Social Rights and the Constitutional Moment Learning from Chile and International Experiences

In the 1990s, Bruce Ackerman defined ‘constitutional moments’ as historic milestones of intense deliberation and change in a country’s politics, change that reflects in the country’s constitutional settlement.

Since October 2019, Chile is going through its own constitutional moment, a moment that began with popular resistance against rising public transport fees in the capital Santiago.

Social Rights and the Constitutional Moment seizes the opportunity of this unique moment to unpack the context, difficulties, opportunities, and merits to enhance the status of environmental and social rights (health, housing, education, and social security) in a country’s constitution.

Social Rights and the Constitutional Moment (Hart 2022): please see below contents and links to chapter summaries

This edited volume arose from a collaboration between the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Human Rights Centre of the University of Essex in the UK, and the University of Concepción in Chile.

In 2020-2021, this partnership brought together practitioners and academics from Chile and other countries (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States) to share and learn from international and comparative practice with the goal of informing the ongoing process of constitutional reform in Chile.

More than thirty contributions were compiled and submitted to members of the constitutional convention and other public authorities in the country in September 2021. This new book presents an extended version of a selection of those essays.

Still today, with laudable exceptions (such as this, this, this, this and this), the majority of comparative constitutional studies in the English language tend to focus on the United States and Europe, and the analysis of peripheral legal systems, when it exists, can only be found on the sidelines as a more or less blatant afterthought. Unlike common practice in comparative constitutional law, this book is anchored in Latin America, building from Chile.

Drawing on the analysis of both academics and practitioners, the book provides rigorous answers to the fundamental questions raised by the construction of a new constitutional bill of rights that embraces climate and social justice.

With an international and comparative perspective, chapters look at political economy, the judicial enforceability of social rights, implications of the privatisation of public services, and the importance of active participation of most vulnerable groups in a constitutional drafting process.

Ahead of the referendum on a new constitution for Chile in the second half of 2022, this collection is timely and relevant and will have a direct impact on how best to legislate effectively for social rights in Chile and beyond.


Full book citation:

Koldo Casla, Magdalena Sepúlveda, Vicente Silva and Valentina Contreras (eds), Social Rights and the Constitutional Moment Learning from Chile and International Experiences (Hart 2022).

Contents and links to chapter summaries:

Chapter 1. Introduction: Social Rights and the Constitutional Moment by Koldo Casla, Magdalena Sepúlveda, Vicente Silva and Valentina Contreras

Chapter 2. Yesterday’s Accomplices, Beneficiaries of Today: The Knots of Inequality Tied by the Dictatorship by Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, Karinna Fernández and Sebastián Smart

Chapter 3. An Open Constitution to Reverse Chile’s Neoliberal Trajectory by Francisca Moya and Constanza Salgado

Chapter 4. Advancing Equal Rights in Constitutions: Insights from 193 Countries by Aleta Sprague, Pam Stek, Amy Raub and Jody Heymann

Chapter 5. Socio-Economic Rights in South Africa’s Constitution: Aspirations, Achievements, Disappointments and Lessons by Sandra Liebenberg

Chapter 6. Publicity and the Rule of Law: Access to Public Information in the Political Constitution of Colombia by Vivian Newman

Chapter 7. The Path of the Inter-American Court Towards Direct Justiciability of Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights: Impact on Domestic Legal Systems by Julieta Rossi

Chapter 8. Constitutional Provisions on Disability Rights: National Approaches and International Context by Gonzalo Moreno, Michael Ashley Stein and Jody Heymann

Chapter 9. Persons with Disabilities in the Chilean Constitution-Making Process by Pablo Marshall, Viviana Ponce De León and Eduardo Marchant

Chapter 10. The Right to Education in Chile: Evolution, Critical Issues and Perspectives of Change by Alfonso Henriquez R

Chapter 11. Integrating the Abidjan Principles on the Right to Education into the Constitution: Keys for the Chilean Process by Valentina Contreras, Vicente Silva and Delphine Dorsi

Chapter 12. Taking the Right to Adequate Housing Seriously in Chile’s Next Constitution: Building from Scratch by Koldo Casla and Verónica Valenzuela

Chapter 13. Health Rights in the New Chilean Constitution by Alejandra Zúñiga-Fajuri

Chapter 14. The Right to Social Security in Chile’s Constitution: Considerations and Opportunities by Alexandra Barrantes

Chapter 15. Environmental Issues in a New Constitution by Verónica Delgado and Dominique Hervé

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