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Presentation in Public Interest Clinic, University of Alicante

Carlota Ucin was kindly invited to give a presentation at the Public Interest Clinic at the University of Alicante in Spain. She presented there the shapes that Public Interest Litigation can adopt and the way this can serve access to justice of human rights. This is related to the topic of her recent book: Juicio a la desigualdad, (Inequality on trials, Marcial Pons, 2021).

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Published: September 23, 2021

Carlota Ucín has recently published this book, that is part of her PhD thesis. As she refers, Human Rights represent —today more than ever— a shared morality that guides us towards subsistence as cohesive communities. From this perspective, Public Interest Litigation becomes fundamental as a way of achieving the enforcement of these rights and to some extent, social change. This practice took shape in most of the countries of the so-called Global South after the latest constitutional reforms. It then emerged there as a body of lawsuits oriented by the Public Interest and tending to give effect to the social rights promised in the Constitutions but violated in practice. However, the phenomenon is not exclusive to these countries, and we are beginning to see signs of this in the so-called climate change crisis litigation.

The first debates in the legal theory field were linked to the possibility of ensuring the judicial enforceability of these rights and to the role of the courts in this new scenario. The dialectic was oriented, centrally, towards the demonstration of the analogies that exist between civil and political rights, on the one hand, and social rights on the other. In practice, the lack of specific regulations replicated —at its turn— the existence of social inequalities. First because of the limited access to justice and then because of the overuse of the procedural instruments specific to individual rights.

JUICIO A LA DESIGUALDAD suggests an alternative view, which at the same time serves as a guide for the new forms of litigation emerging. For this, the author analyses the theoretical and institutional difficulties derived from social rights and suggests the elaboration of categories according to their speciality. She develops her argument in two parts, the first specifies the reasons why social rights should not be totally equated with civil and political rights, showing, instead, the convenience of a specific theoretical and procedural treatment. The second part is based on the experience of Public Interest Litigation and sets out the guidelines that will serve for the development of a collective procedural paradigm —with participatory and deliberative bases— that allows ensuring the effective protection of these rights.