The Impact of Economic and Social Human Rights in New Zealand Case Law

Although New Zealand has traditionally relied on “positive realisation” of ESCR through public policy decision-making, recently there has been small number of cases relying on international human rights treaties, including the ICESCR, to support the legal argument. This article reviews the implementation of ICESCR in New Zealand through an analysis of this case law.  The article argues that although there has been an increase in the number of cases relying of ESC rights, the courts have been reluctant to grant a remedy without ESCR being explicitly incorporated into the domestic law.  The article further argues that the attempt to provide a remedy for ESCR through the declaration of inconsistency under the 2001 Human Rights Amendment Act has highlighted the need for the inclusion of ESCR into the NZBORA.  



Margaret Wilson is a Professor of Law at University of Waikato. Judy McGregor is a Professor and Head of School Social Science and Public Policy Auckland University of Technology. Sylvia Bell is a Principal Policy and Legal Analyst. The research undertaken for this article is part of a Law Foundation funded Project on assessing the impact of New Zealand’s ratification and state receptivity of the major international human rights treaties.

Publish Date: 
November, 2015
Publication title: 
AJHR 21-1
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