This fall, there will be a new Byse Workshop titled “Property Rights and Socioeconomic Rights in Tension: A Constitutional and Comparative Analysis”. The workshop will be held on Thursday afternoons from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. in Wasserstein Room Number 4059. The first session of the workshop will be held on Thursday, October 4th. The topic for the first session is “Theories of Private Property and Property Rights: Locke, Hume and Blackstone”.
The format of the workshop is informal and in the form of a reading group. The workshop will explore the perceived tension in constitutional and human rights discourse between the right to property, regarded as a classic civil and political right and socioeconomic rights such as the rights to food, housing, health and education. Historically, civil and political rights have been constitutionalised and made justiciable or judicially enforceable. In contrast, socioeconomic rights were, until recently, not recognised as constitutional rights or were constitutionalised but not made justiciable. Constitutional law scholars and human rights practitioners have argued that the tension between property rights and socioeconomic rights arises because the enforcement of property rights, through judicial review, imposes severe restrictions on the fulfillment of socioeconomic needs of the poor. Those who lack property or face deprivation of property entitlements are often unable to provide
for their basic needs. Moreover, social redistribution programme that seek to improve access to resources amongst the beneficiaries necessarily involve alteration of existing property arrangements, which might be seen as violating justiciable constitutional property rights.
In this workshop, we will examine these theoretical debates regarding the constitutionalisation and justiciability of property and socioeconomic rights through a review of the constitutional law of three countries that have guaranteed property and/or socioeconomic rights, namely, the United States, India and South Africa. Further, we will discuss the practical implications of having justiciable property and socioeconomic rights on the fulfillment of the socioeconomic needs of the poor. We will also examine legal realist and Critical Legal Studies’ critiques of rights to see what value, if any, is achieved by the constitutionalisation of a particular interest as a “right” and its enforcement by courts.
For an overview of the structure of the workshop, please refer to the schedule of topics of future sessions at the end of this email. The readings for the first session will be available in the Copy Centre on Monday, October 1st.
No sign-ups or registration needed. Just show up! Light refreshments and beverages will be served.
Please feel free to email nwahi at sjd.law.harvard.edu in case you have any questions.