Socio‐economic Rights and Essential Services: A New Challenge for the Regulatory State

Cosmo Graham

in The Regulatory State

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199593170
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595660 | DOI:
Socio‐economic Rights and Essential Services: A New Challenge for the Regulatory State

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  • Constitutional and Administrative Law


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Written constitutions generally provide a list of individual rights for citizens of the state. Historically, these have concentrated on civil and political rights, such as freedom of expression, religious freedom, etc. However, in modern industrialized societies, and more generally, there has come to be increasing recognition of the importance of so-called second generation social and economic rights, such as rights to education, housing and water, and for the ability of citizens to participate effectively in society. At the same time, there has been a move towards using competitive markets or market mechanisms to provide essential services in a number of areas, such as energy, water, and communications. There is an inherent tension between seeing access to these services as some form of right or entitlement and delivering them through competitive markets that do not take account of distributional concerns. This chapter explores this tension and the way that it has been mediated in the context of the UK, and the provision of essential services in the energy, water, and communications sectors. As a point of comparison, it looks at how the question of access to water has been treated in South Africa.

Keywords: regulation; UK; South Africa; social rights; economic rights; water access; essential services

Chapter.  10957 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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