San Diego International Law Journal

Document Type



This Article considers what the role of the courts could and should be in implementing ESR in China. Part II surveys recent global developments giving greater bite to economic and social rights, as well as some of the main controversies, debates, and approaches to promoting, protecting, and fulfilling ESR, with particular attention to the role of the courts. Part III provides a general introduction to the social, legal, political, and economic context in China, and contrasts the situation in China with South Africa?one of the global leaders in judicial implementation of ESR. The overall environment in China is, if not hostile, at least not promising for a robust role for the courts in protecting ESR. Nevertheless, there is still some room for the courts to play a positive role in implementing ESR. Part IV provides some suggestions regarding the way forward, suggesting that what is needed is an approach that considers all factors: (1) absolute minimums and core rights; (2) the level of development nationally, regionally and locally; (3) community consensus and popular opinions; (4) institutional constraints; and (5) the role of courts within the Chinese constitutional structure and polity. Part V concludes.