Full Length Research Paper

Recognition and Protection of Social and Welfare Rights: A Comparative Analysis

Ana María Zorrilla Noriega


This article presents a comparative analysis of how different constitutions and courts have recognized and protected social and welfare rights. The first section includes a definition of social and welfare rights; a description of the obligation of governments to progressively realize these rights; a note on the different ways in which a constitution may recognize them; and a comment on the debate about the judicial enforcement of social and welfare rights. The next three sections address the South African, German, and American models. Each of these parts comprises a comment on how does the country’s constitution recognizes social and welfare rights, as well as the analysis of significant decisions issued by their constitutional courts. The last section includes some concluding remarks. This paper reflects not only the institutional function of the courts but also the role they play in the historical and political background of South Africa, Germany, and the United States. With regard to the social and welfare rights, it is shown the level of recognition they have in the constitutions, as well as the degree to which the legislature has the duty to ensure their realization.

Key words: social and welfare rights, comparative law, constitutional law, public policy, welfare services, South Africa, Germany, United States.

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