Socio-economic rights provide protection for the dignity, freedom and well-being of individuals by guaranteeing state-supported entitlements to education, public health care, housing, a living wage, decent working conditions and other social goods.

International IDEA’s Constitution-Building Primers are designed to assist in-country constitution-building or constitutional-reform processes by helping citizens, political parties, civil society organizations, public officials and members of constituent assemblies make wise constitutional choices. They also provide guidance for staff of intergovernmental organizations and other external actors working to provide well informed, context-relevant support to local decision-makers.

Each Primer is written as an introduction for non-specialist readers, and as a convenient aide-memoire for those with prior knowledge of, or experience with, constitution-building. Arranged thematically around the practical choices faced by constitution-builders, the Primers aim to explain complex constitutional issues in a quick and easy way.

This revised and reformatted edition was published in October 2017.


Publication date
09 August 2014
Dawood Ahmed, Elliot Bulmer
Number of pages
978-91-7671-114-9 (Print)



1. Introduction

2. What is the issue?

3. What are socio-economic rights?

4. Reasons for constitutionalizing socio-economic rights

5. Arguments against recognizing socio-economic rights

6. Design alternatives

7. Additional design considerations

8. Additional contextual considerations

9. Examples

10. Decision-making questions



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Social and Economic Rights

International IDEA Constitution-Building Primer 9
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