n South African Law Journal - Poverty and Fundamental Rights : The Justification and Enforcement of Socio-Economic Rights, David Bilchitz : book review

Volume 124, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



This elegantly structured and lucidly written book combines rigorous philosophical research and reasoning with a thorough exploration of the practical implications for South Africa's jurisprudence on socio-economic rights.

Its major contribution is that it compels engagement with the ethical justifications for socio-economic rights. Too much of the burgeoning legal scholarship on socio-economic rights is focused on an analysis and critique of the relevant jurisprudence without seeking to develop a theoretical understanding of the values and purposes underpinning the rights. This is particularly unfortunate given that the Constitution (Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996) expressly endorses a value-based approachto the interpretation of the Bill of Rights (s 39(1)). This book offers a number of important theoretical and practical insights to the challenges posed by the judicial enforcement of socio-economic rights, both in South Africa and in other jurisdictions.
In this review I will briefly sketch the contours of the argument developed by Bilchitz's book before proceeding to consider certain questions and critiques which his argument raises.

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