The Law Society - Human Rights Symposium: Realising economic, social and cultural rights in the UK

Date: Friday 21 October 2011

Time: From 08:45 to 18:00

Venue: The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London

Speakers: Jamie Burton, Albie Sachs, Lady Justice Arden, Geraldine Van Bueren, Kate Green MP, Francesca Klug OBE, Walmsley, Emeritus Richard Wilkinson

CPD: 12

Dates: 21st - 22nd October 2011 


  • Day 1: Private sector organisations, Government departments and agencies and local authorities (incl. Vat) - £85
  • Day 1: Third sector organisations and academics - £65 (incl. Vat)
  • Day 2: Private sector organisations, Government departments and agencies and local authorities - £65
  • Day 2: Third sector organisations and academics - £50 (incl VAT)
  • Both days: Private sector organisations, Government departments and agencies and local authorities (incl. Vat) - £140
  • Both days: Third sector organisations and academics - £102 (incl. Vat)

There is a pressing need to discuss and develop UK approaches to ESCR because while these rights impose binding legal obligations under international law they are not currently considered part of the political 'mainstream', nor are they applied as principal standards for public policy in the UK.

Moreover, major political and economic changes have recently taken place, including the Emergency June Budget and October Spending Review, which re-evaluate notions of the public good, the welfare state and minimum living standards. However, even before the 'austerity changes' the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in both their 2002 and 2009 Concluding Observations, raised concerns that the UK is failing to adequately secure these rights. Why is it, for instance, that 13 million people in the UK, 3.9 million of whom are children, live in poverty? This poverty has a disastrous impact on the right to obtain the highest attainable standard of living. For example, a child born in the affluent area of Lenzie North in Glasgow has a life expectancy of 82, compared with a child born in the disadvantaged area of Carlton who has a life expectancy of just 54. For many people in the UK, the right to just and fair working conditions is a figment of the imagination. Almost 50 per cent of home workers, for instance, and around 20 per cent of migrant workers, may be paid less than the minimum wage, some earning as little as £1 per hour.

As a result, the Law Society are organising a conference in partnership with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Centre (University of Essex) (HRC) and Just Fair on the topic of 'Fairness, Justice and Human Rights: Realising Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) in the UK'. The conference will take place at the Law Society of England and Wales on the 21st and 22nd of October 2011.


Key speakers include:

  • Justice Albie Sachs (former Justice of the South African Constitutional Court)
  • Lady Justice Arden (Lady Justice of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales)
  • Professor Geraldine Van Bueren (Commissioner, Equality and Human Rights Commission)
  • Kate Green MP (Labour MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty , member of the Work and Pensions Committee)
  • Professor Francesca Klug OBE (Director, Human Rights Futures Project, LSE)
  • Baroness Walmsley (Patron, CRAE, co-Chair Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Policy Committee on - Education, Families and Young People and sponsor of the 2009 ROCK Children's Rights Bill)
  • Professor Emeritus Richard Wilkinson (Director, Equality Trust and author 'The Spirit Level')
  • Jamie Burton, Doughty Street Chambers & justfair
  • David Butterworth, justfair

The conference is split over 2 days:

Day one, on 21 October 2011, is a mix of plenary and breakout sessions. The plenaries include discussions on the effect that budget cuts will have and whether ESC rights can be protected by a bill or rights. This day features keynote speakers such as Professor Francesca Klug OBE, exploring Human Rights and examining whether Civil, Political and ESC rights should be interelated, interdependable or durable. There are also interactive plenary sessions including discussions surrounding budget cuts and the rigthts to adequate housing, healthcare, education and employment. This day ends with an evening drinks reception.

Day two, on 22 October 2011, has more focus on practical working sessions on strategies to protect vulnerable rights and groups. This day includes a keynote from Justice Albie Sachs exploring ESC Rights and a plenary session observing the experiences of ESC rights in other countries.

Both days heralds several workshops covering topics such as ESC Rights Strategies and , Vulnerable Rights, with poetry, film and conversation from the Poverty Truth Commission during lunch.

For a more detailed programme for both days, please download the programme at the bottom of the page.

Who should attend?

The October 2011 conference is designed to enable approximately 250 judges, scholars, policy makers, legal practitioners and community representatives to exchange views and consider the problems and prospects for the effective enjoyment of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) in the UK. It will feature a mixture of keynote addresses, breakout sessions/workshops as well as informal opportunities to exchange ideas and build relationships.

For further details, please see attached associated file.

To Reserve your both please RSVP with your details (confirming which day(s) you wish to attend). Please bring a cheque to the event covering the cost of your place (prices can be found above).


Associated Files

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