A life that achieves the full promise of human dignity requires, among other things, escape from premature death, the resources to withstand debilitating disease, the ability to read and write, and, in general, opportunities and freedoms unavailable in the midst of extreme poverty and deprivation. Over the past few decades, many have adopted the view that commanding some minimal level of social and economic resources not only is constitutive of dignity, but is a basic human right to which someone must respond. Yet, one billion people on earth remain extremely poor, and billions of others lack necessities and essential services. The scale of global poverty makes it obvious that no one has assumed the responsibility to respond or that those who have undertaken that responsibility are failing. From the perspective of many human rights activists, then, the challenges become how best to identify those who ought to respond, how best to evaluate those who have attempted a response, and, more generally, how best to assign duties and then hold accountable those who might provide an effective response. And, many believe, it is entirely appropriate to use courts to enforce these rights. Courts are, after all, the paradigmatic institutions for identifying legal duties and responding to claims that rights have been violated.
In many countries, this process is well under way. To begin with, during and since the third wave of democratization around the world, more and more substantive rights have been enshrined in constitutions around the world:
A review conducted for this paper assessed constitutional rights to education and health care in 187 countries.[…]