This paper is about the role that may be envisioned for the courts in Angola with respect to the poor. Looking at the period from 1992 - 2004, it analyses the factors that are necessary for getting social rights litigation successfully through the courts - and what kind of impediments that exist. In spite of rather wide constitutional guarantees of a large number of social, economic and cultural rights, Angola is a highly unequal society where discrimination has been rampant in many spheres of social, political and economic life. Yet, the state has not been challenged with upholding these constitutional guarantees. This paper tries to identify some of the conditions necessary for such cases to be introduced to courts and to be effectively ruled upon by judges. What obstacles would a poor litigant, whose rights had not been respected, be faced with? Would the case be likely to be brought to court - and if it were, would it be favourably received? The paper's tentative conclusion is that the failure to implement social and economic rights in Angola is not primarily due to constitutional limitations, but rather due to the lack of resources among the poor as well as to lack of human and technical resources within the justice system itself.

Elin Skaar

Senior Researcher, Coordinator: Rights and Legal Institutions