How would international human rights law deal with a potentially automized future?Posted: 20 July, 2021 Filed under: Eduardo Kapapelo | Tags: algorithms, artificial intelligence technologies, autonomous weapons systems, aws, ‘self-aware’ autonomous weapons, Christof Heyns, Future Combat System Project, human rights, Human Rights Council, humanitarian law, law, legal, LGBTI, self-aware, targeted surveillance, Terminator 3 1 Comment
Author: Eduardo Kapapelo
Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
In a scene from Jonathan Mostow’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the ‘Terminator’ played by Arnold Schwarzenegger says, ‘Cybernet has become self-aware’. While the context of such words are within a scripted science fiction world, they nevertheless seem to be echoes of a futures we seem to be writing – whether willingly or not.
While Mostow’s ‘killer robots’ or ‘terminators’ – are essentially autonomous weapons systems sent through time to kill a person seems farfetched and squarely within the realm of science fiction, perhaps it is not life imitating art, but art imitating life. The United States Future Combat System Project which aimed to manufacture a ‘robot army’ seems to have hinted that the future might not be as fictitious as we think.
Academics and pandemics: A student’s perspective during the lockdownPosted: 26 May, 2020 Filed under: Ross Booth | Tags: academia, anxiety, contact learning, COVID-19, data bundles, demoralising, law, law student, LLB, lockdown, online learning, pandemic, stressful time, student, student life, students, UKZN, unemployment, work ethic, zoom calls Leave a comment
Author: Ross Booth
Third year LLB student, University of KwaZulu-Natal
For a lot of people (including myself) the 1st of January 2020 felt like a day that couldn’t come sooner. 2019 had been an especially difficult study year with the leap from first to second year comparable to an Olympic long jump. However, what I didn’t anticipate is that 2020 would spiral into disaster, almost from the get go.
UKZN students began the year in the usual fashion – one or two introductory lectures followed by an extra two weeks of holiday as our colleagues vented their frustration at the University and NSFAS respectively. However, the SRC and relevant university officials managed to quash the unrest relatively early on and lectures slowly began to commence accordingly. In conversation with a classmate shortly thereafter, I recall uttering the phrase “the worst is over” regarding the likelihood that the strikes would continue. As is always the case, good old Murphy was eavesdropping around a corner, holding his satchel of bad luck – preparing the unthinkable. And like clockwork, a virus initially described as a strong case of the sniffles managed to globetrot its way from Wuhan to sunny Durban – taking a few pit stops on the way. With that, the university was once again closed and lectures ground to a halt.
Rethinking the North-South divide in international criminal justice: Reflections from an African viewpointPosted: 25 October, 2016 Filed under: Francis Dusabe | Tags: accountability, Africa, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, African Union, AU, collaboration, courts, Hissène Habré, ICC, International Criminal Court, international criminal justice, International Criminal law, law, regional mechanisms, Rome Statute 2 Comments
Author: Francis Dusabe
‘Whatever you do for me but without me, you do against me’– Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948
More than ever before, Africa is at both sides of the coin; it is the subject of international criminal law because African states have steadfastly stood for the creation of the International Criminal Court and an object of international criminal law because of the unfortunate participation of Africans in atrocities that ravages their continent.
Unlike what many think, Africa has a lot to offer in the development of international criminal law, be it at domestic, regional and international level. Domestically, Africa leads other continents in the nationalisation of international criminal law either through domestication of the Rome Statute or the incorporation of main principles of international criminal law as enshrined in major conventions and treaties in national law.
Constitutional jurisdiction and the right to happinessPosted: 1 April, 2016 Filed under: Saul Leal | Tags: Centre on Housing Rights and Eviction, Community Law Centre, constitution, Constitutional Court, Council of Censors, Delft, fundamental right, Greatest Happiness principle, Hans Kelsen, happiness, individualism, Joshua Greene, judiciary, Langa, law, normative acts, right to dignity, right to happiness, utilitarian doctrine 7 Comments
Author: Saul Leal
Vice-Chancellor Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA)
Should it be a role of the Judiciary to assure happiness for the people? Is it appropriate for a Constitutional Court to consider happiness to be a right? Does the establishment of fundamental rights expand the collective happiness? To answer these questions, it is essential to examine the root of Constitutional jurisdiction.
Karl Loewenstein questioned whether the Constitution would be “instrumental for the pursuit of happiness of the people”, based on his intrigue into the purpose and meaning of a Constitution. He is accompanied by Hans Kelsen, for whom “the longing for justice is man’s eternal longing for happiness”.
The answer to the aforementioned questions lies within the examination of the Constitution of the State of Pennsylvania, in the United States, in 1776, in order to address the power given to the courts to assess the constitutionality of the laws and of normative acts.
Of stereotypes and the ‘unsound mind’ clausesPosted: 2 October, 2015 Filed under: Patricia Mwanyisa | Tags: Australian Law Reform Commission, Commonwealth Electoral Act, CRPD, disability rights, discrimination, eliminate discrimination, gender perspective, ignorance, inequality, law, mental health, mental illness, prejudice, promote equality, psychological, stereotype, stigma, tolerance, UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, unsound mind Leave a comment
Author: Patricia Mwanyisa
Human Rights, Justice and Rule of Law Programme Officer, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)
Recently, during my studies I delved into the concept of stereotypes and their effects, albeit from a gender perspective. This academic encounter has become an important one to both my personal and professional frames of reference. I have discovered that my prior use and appreciation of the term stereotype was presumptuous, without depth and assumed familiarity. I had nonchalantly used the term often, in writing and conversation without fully appreciating the intricacies of this concept.
Quite worrying one might say, coming from a professional working on human rights, justice and equality issues – but I believe that my nonchalance is common among many of us. We tend to have a general over familiarisation with issues that form part of the realm in which we work and operate without necessarily appreciating the rudimentary theories underpinning particular terms or concepts.
So I think I deserve some credit for acknowledging my deficiency, and urge that we do not rush to deem as catastrophic such inadequacies in all circumstances because it is impossible to know everything about everything, even in your most familiar of territory. To be expected to know and fully understand each and every detail about a subject is a naïve expectation on the part of peers and an arrogant unintelligent assertion on the part of any such declarants. The universally renowned great mind Michelangelo, is remembered for his famous quote “ancora imparo” reportedly made at the age of 87 which means ‘I am still learning’ – well, so am I. So I ask for your indulgence as I share some of my learning on how stereotypes perpetuate inequality and marginalisation – you might just also learn that we all are still learning and need to keep learning.
I have learnt that stereotypes are a component of stigma. They assign negative attributes to socially salient differences forming what social identity theorists call in-group and out-group categorisation. People tend to stereotype as a means of screening people into either the in-group (us) or out-group (them) which in eventuality determines whether a group is accepted or rejected.
This categorisation (stereotyping) of other(s), provides people with a feeling of comfort and confidence based on what they are accustomed to, for predictability and personal security’s sake. Whilst it may be argued in some quarters that categorisation is useful in, for example, target marketing or planning of community and development projects among other mass planning purposes; unfortunately the cumulative effects of general categorisation and consequent stereotyping in most circumstances reinforce and perpetuate inequality.
Drawing lessons from the protection of taxpayers’ rights in EuropePosted: 13 November, 2013 Filed under: Eric Ntini Kasoko | Tags: Africa, African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, citizens, Court of Justice, Economic Community of West African, Europe, European Court of Justice, European Court on Human Rights, fundamental rights and freedoms, human rights, international human rights law, investments, law, right to property, rule of law, tax, tax legislation, taxpayers, The National Co-ordinating Group of Departmental Representatives of the Cocoa-Coffee Sector v Côte d’Ivoire Leave a comment
Author: Eric Ntini Kasoko
PhD candidate, University of Liege (Belgium)
“You can have a Lord, you can have a King, but the man to fear is the tax collector”- Sumerian proverb.
Today, fearing the tax man does not seem to hold true when it comes to the protection of taxpayers’ rights in most European countries. Indeed, for several decades now, taxpayers’ rights in Europe have been benefiting from internationalisation of human rights process. Under the impulse of case law from the European Court on Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ), human rights have become a fundamental part of taxation. While Africa is running the marathon of attracting and boosting private investments, it may be vital to stimulate the interaction of these two areas of law as a means to strengthen the rule of law on the continent.
In Africa, tax is primarily regarded as a civic duty. Article 29 (6) of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights (hereinafter referred to as “the Charter”) states that “the individual shall also have the duty (…) to pay taxes imposed by law in the interest of the society”. It follows in particular that the state has the right to levy taxes on its citizens, whether individual or corporate. In contrast, citizens are entitled to enjoy property rights in respect of Article 14 of the Charter or any other pertinent instrument relating to international human rights law. Since the state and its citizens have opposing interests, a balance is obviously required between the individual’s right to property and the state’s right of establishing taxes. In others words, in case of a dispute regarding taxation, the judge should be able to censure any excessively high tax burden on citizens.
The politics of the Ethiopian Justice Sector Reform Program: Justice “reform” or “deform”?Posted: 21 May, 2013 Filed under: Henok G. Gabisa | Tags: development, Ethiopia, freedom, human rights, human rights violations, judges, judicial independence, judicial reform, Judicial Reform Program, judiciary, justice, Justice System Reform Program, law, legislative, rule of law, supremacy 5 Comments
Author: Henok G. Gabisa
International Law Fellow, Washington and Lee School of Law, VA, USA
The African post-colonial period marked a new paradigm of triangular discourse amongst law, justice and development in the international playground. The intellectual metamorphoses of this discourse quickly gained momentum in the mid-60s and was patented the “Movement of Law and Development”. Highly alluring to professors and intellectuals from American law schools, this intellectual movement regarded “law” as an instrument to reform the society and ‘lawyers and judges” as social engineers. With this movement, the narrative was that law is central to the development processes. Then in the early 90s, the movement gave birth to the idea of the “Justice System Reform Program”, also referred to as the “Judicial Reform Program”. The emergence of this idea immediately became a serious agenda in the strategic themes of international financial institutions and bilateral states cooperation structures under the wrestling juxtaposition of “rule of law” and “poverty eradication”. The geographical focus of this idea was only limited to the developing nations of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and some Latin American countries.
There are two main rationales behind the theoretical innovation of ‘judicial reform’: a well-established and effective justice system is not only robust enough to confront corruption and violation of rights (with the assumption that courts as custodies of human rights), it can also be relied on to protect the property rights of foreign investors (the concept of development has always been viewed as capitals flowing from north to south-until very recently that the newly rising economies of BRICS- an acronym for the multi-dimensional partnership between Brazil, Russia, Indian, China and South Africa- proved otherwise that capital can also flow from south to south). The ambition of reforming judiciaries in developing countries beseeches building the practical meaning of judicial independence and professional competence that can help build an unwavering system of justice delivery. However, this initiative seems to have totally been lost in translation and taken advantage of for political purposes by the Ethiopian government.