A Brief of the Preservation of Human Dignity and Enforcement of Economic and Social Rights

Social and economic rights are protected under Article 43 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. They include the right;

  1. to the highest attainable standard of health;
  2. to adequate and accessible housing and to reasonable standards of sanitation;
  3. to be free from hunger, and to have adequate food of acceptable quality;
  4. to clean and safe water in adequate quantities;
  5. to social security; and
  6. to education.

The main object of the Bill is to create a framework for the preservation of human dignity, realization of socio-economic rights and for standards to be adhered by the national and county governments in realizing socio-economic rights. Its guiding principles are sustainable development, non-discrimination, promotion of good governance, empowerment and capacity building and transparency.

There is an obligation on the national and county governments to formulate policies and legislation that will promote realization of socio-economic rights. Among other duties, they are to ensure availability, accessibility, adaptability and acceptability of services that would facilitate realization of socio-economic rights.

The main body mandated with responsibility for the enforcement of the Act is the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. It has the duty to monitor performance of the national and county governments, make recommendations on the realization of these rights, investigate complaints and evaluate existing policies periodically.

The county government has an obligation to prepare a county strategic plan for the realization of social and economic rights. Moreover, in order to oversee implementation of the Act, the national and each county government have to submit reports to both the Commission and the Senate before the 30th of September.

If this Bill passes, it would be interesting to see the application of such a framework considering the government raises the issue of resources whenever confronted with matters of realization of social and economic rights. The courts have allowed this argument but have noted that it will reach a point where the government will have to realize these rights.


This article was written by
Sylvia Katua of Mzalendo Trust .
It was published on Oct. 26, 2018.


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