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Article 22

Experts urge for a new law to protect economic and social rights

Published on: 6 June 2019

Academics at Newcastle University are working collaboratively with others to build an Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Bill.

To ensure citizens’ rights to health, Newcastle University researchers have established an initiative called Article 22.

This project aims to identify the law and policy changes needed to secure similar economic, social, and cultural rights as human rights in the UK.

Protecting economic, social and cultural rights

The research team has drafted a proposed Bill, which includes rights to adequate housing, education, health, food, decent work, social security, a good standard of living, and participation in cultural life.

Professor Allyson Pollock, Director of the Institute of Health and Society, said: “The UK has no written constitution and there is no legal framework protecting economic, social and cultural rights, unlike civil and political rights.

“As a result colleagues at the Institute of Health and Society, along with other academics and practitioners, have set about drafting a Bill of social rights which they are now consulting on under our Article 22 project.”

The UK has subscribed to a number of international treaties which say that everyone living in the country is entitled to the right to adequate housing, the right to health, the right to social security and other socio-economic rights.

But, unlike many countries, these rights have not been incorporated in domestic law, which means that people living in the UK do not have an effective legal way to claim their rights and the UK is an outlier.

Enhancing the status of economic and social rights would lead to significant improvements. For example, if taken seriously the government would have to analyse the cumulative impact of tax, social security and public spending reforms and restore the link between social security and the costs of living.

Dr Koldo Casla, Research Associate, and Peter Roderick, Principal Research Associate, at Newcastle University’s Institute of Health and Society, are running the Article 22 project.  

Dr Casla said: “An Economic and Social Rights Act is needed more than ever to waterproof people’s rights and social protection from the effects of austerity.”

Austerity across the UK

Last month, Newcastle University hosted a two day conference where experts from around the country came together to discuss the proposed Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Bill.

Professor Pollock said: “The conference was organised following a visit to the UK at the end of last year by the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Professor Philip Alston.

“Professor Alston’s visit highlighted the impact of austerity across the country, and drew attention to the effect of poverty in the North East of England.”

For more information about the Article 22 project and the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Bill, visit


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