ABSTRACT

This chapter examines the role of the judiciary in advancing socio-economic rights in Africa through judicial review and constitutional interpretation. It argues that this ‘least dangerous branch’ is the best guarantee of liberty because of their power to scrutinise the conducts of other branches of government and ensure compliance with the rule of law. The chapter notes that a judicial approach to interpreting socio-economic rights depends, among other contexts, on whether a particular right is directly or indirectly enforceable, and whether a right recognised in a treaty is similarly recognised at the municipal level. It examines these contexts and the interpretive methodologies that could make this class of rights effective. The chapter insists that the development of a dynamic and coherent domestic jurisprudence depends on judicial willingness to depart from outmoded interpretive methodologies. It calls on regional and national courts to interpret and apply human rights instruments purposively and comparatively to assist in addressing the impoverishments that afflict majority of Africans.