The function of constitutional judges and judicial philosophy in Africa: Introduction to the special issuePosted: 17 December, 2021
Author: Trésor Makunya Muhindo
Postdoctoral Fellow and Publications Coordinator, Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria
This special issue is devoted to the function of constitutional judges and judicial philosophy in Africa through the lens of Justice Albie Sachs’ judicial philosophy. It emerges from presentations made by speakers at the virtual book launch of the French translation of Albie Sachs’ book ‘The strange alchemy of life and law’ (2021) organised on 19 November 2021 by the Pretoria University Law Press.
This issue is divided into three main parts. In the first part, Judge Albie Sachs and Emmanuel De Groof provide the background to the translation of the book. The book aims at bridging the divide between the common law and civil law legal traditions that African legal systems inherited through colonialism. The divide between the two legal traditions is so great that it seems African lawyers and judges based in the common law tradition and those from the civil law tradition operate in a completely different world.
One of the positive impacts of economic globalization is the shift of most, although not all, international trade relations into a rule-based, secure and institutionalized system instead of an arbitrary one. WTO and modern-time RTAs are the results of a long-term process since the 1940s which can be taken as a major step for the systematic regulation of international trade as a continuation of the structure from GATT 1947.
Eight rounds of negotiations took place during the GATT 1947 regime during which the economic interests of most developing and least developed countries were underrepresented or totally ignored as the major parties to the negotiations were developed nations. Hence, developing and LDCs are left with the only choice of complying with the already established rules if they wish to be integrated into the multilateral system.
The role of African governments in the implementation of the Revised Declaration on freedom of expression online in AfricaPosted: 24 November, 2021
Authors: Imani Henrick, Bitebo Gogo, Ogah Peter Ejegwoya & Ayowole Olotupa-Adetona
The rights to freedom of expression, access to information and opinion are three distinct yet interconnected rights. The right to freedom of expression includes overt or covert communication through any medium including the Internet while access to information is being able to get information through any means. Both rights can be limited under international human rights standards. However, the right to opinion which is broader than both rights cannot be limited under international human rights standards.
This article identifies the role of African governments in implementing freedom of expression online. In doing so, it focuses on the provisions of the recent Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (Revised Declaration) 2019.
Parallel Rules: Overlap of Jurisdiction of Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) with World Trade Organisation (WTO)Posted: 16 November, 2021
It is very interesting how RTAs have increased in number and scope in recent years as manifestation of the new tendency towards regionalism at the expense of WTO’s multilateral arrangement. As of 15 October 2021, the WTO received 568 notifications of RTAs from its members and currently 350 RTAs are in force. RTAs and their reciprocal preferential trade rules are in principle against WTO’s non-discrimination principles but they constitute one of the authorised exemptions under WTO.
The fact that the Doha Development Round as a major multilateral trade negotiation under WTO has deadlocked for more than a decade gave RTAs the opportunity to be taken as important alternatives. RTAs have proliferated not only in number but in the regions they cover and in the sectors of trade they apply to as well. The rapid growth in the number of RTAs in recent years created two phenomena: (i) it undermines WTO’s non-discrimination principle as RTAs establish preferential rules among member states and hence generate the ‘spaghetti bowl’; and (ii) RTAs often institutionalise their dispute settlement mechanisms to address disputes arising with regard to the applications of these agreements. The possibility of potential conflicts of jurisdiction between the respective dispute settlement mechanisms might arise as RTAs include separate dispute settlement rules to deal with obligations of parties under these RTAs that are parallel or even similar to their obligations under the WTO covered agreements.
Author: Menelik Solomon Mamo
Consultant and attorney, Ethiopia
Access to Justice, as a component of the rule of law, is comprised of a number of elements that at its core means that individuals and communities with legal needs know where to go for help, obtain the help they need, and move through a system that offers procedural, substantive, and expeditious justice. According to the World Justice Project’s (WJP) report, Measuring the Justice Gap, 5.1 billion people or approximately two-thirds of the world’s population are faced with at least one justice issue. It is evident that the majority of these justiciable matters that individuals face fall within the ambit of civil justice. The fact that individuals, especially those from developing countries, are surrounded by these problems while lacking access to justice to deal with them, form part of the dynamics that create and perpetuate poverty and inequality.
The right to food and housing for Internally Displaced Persons in Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): geographical distance does not forcibly mean different situationsPosted: 2 November, 2021
Author: Cristiano d’Orsi
Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer at the South African Research Chair in International Law (SARCIL), University of Johannesburg
Author: Juan Pablo Serrano Frattali
Member of research group Social Anthropology of Motricity of the University of Granada
Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are the countries with the largest population of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in South America and Africa, respectively, the third, and the second in the world (Syria heads the world ranking). Internal displacement in Colombia constitutes a widely recognized phenomenon, having become an essential reference point for internal migration studies. At the end of 2020, Colombia counted the highest number of IPDs in South America because of conflict and violence (4.9 million). In 2020, however, while Colombia counted 170,000 new IDPs, 106,000 of whom resulted from conflict and violence, Brazil counted 380,000 new IDPs, all due to natural disasters. Violence continued in Colombia notwithstanding Covid-19 restrictions. Many combatants with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) disbanded and reintegrated into society after the 2016 peace deal, but dissident factions have since emerged, and paramilitary groups continue to exercise significant territorial control. The department of Nariño, close to Ecuador, has been historically a hotspot of conflict and displacement given its strategic location on drug-trafficking routes.
The transitional national legislature is to be transformed into a constituent assembly to adopt the ‘permanent’ constitution of South Sudan, but what does this mean?Posted: 25 October, 2021
Author: Joseph Geng Akech
South Sudanese human rights lawyer and LLD candidate, University of Pretoria, South Africa
The Republic of South Sudan embarked on its ‘permanent’ constitution building process which is a critical part of the peace process. The Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) puts forward mechanisms and institutions for achieving such ambition. These institutions include the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC), National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC), Preparatory Sub-Committee, National Constitutional Conference (NCC) and the reconstituted transitional national legislature (Council of States and Transitional National Legislative Assembly) acting as a constituent assembly. The R-ARCSS establishes the above institutions with varying powers and degree of influence on the constitution building process.
This article focuses on the role of the reconstituted national legislature – bicameral chambers composed of Council of States and Transitional National Legislative Assembly. According to the R-ARCSS, these two houses of parliament are to be transformed into a Constituent Assembly to adopt, in a joint session, the Draft Constitutional Text passed by the National Constitutional Conference.