For perhaps too long, the conventional wisdom has been that the best can come only from abroad; meaning Europe and America. From the perspective of constitutional law, the South African Constitution did more than just provide a clean break with the past. It provided a modern constitution which successfully borrowed and adapted many of the best principles from some of the major modern European constitutional models to fit with the realities of the country. Whilst not perfect, and there shall never be a perfect constitution, it shows how Africans can creatively find solutions to their problems.But it is perhaps the South African Constitutional Court, through the voluminous amount of jurisprudence that it has produced since 1995,that has attracted the most attention from constitutional experts all over the world and given rise to the feeling that the centre of modern constitutionalism might well be moving to Africa. For a continent that has been obsessed with blindly copying from the former colonial powers, there are many reasons to start looking at itself.Even the 1990s constitutional reforms in other African countries were still influenced by the inherited colonial constitutional models.
Author: Prof Christof Heyns
Professor of Human Rights Law; Co-director, Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa at the University of Pretoria; United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
Many lives have recently been lost in Africa, as in other parts of the world, when demonstrations have turned fatally violent. This has been clearly seen inthe countries of the so-called Arab Spring, but numerous Sub-Saharan countries – Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Malawi and South Africa come to mind – have also experienced violent and indeed deadly marches.
These demonstrations reveal the need to bring the legal and policy regimes that govern such expressions of popular opinion into line with human rights standards.
AfricLaw, launched in April 2012, is a blog which provides a platform for discussion for those interested in the rule and role of law in Africa. All areas of law applicable to Africa are covered, both international (global and continental) and national. Legal academics and students, researchers, international and national civil servants, legislators and politicians, legal practitioners and judges, as well as those who are not lawyers but have an interest in law are among those who are welcome to participate in the discussions. AfricLaw provides a space for the discussion of issues of substance, forming of opinions and information sharing among people living on the continent, those from Africa who are in the diaspora, and anyone else who is interested in participating. AfricLaw will also serve as a vehicle for comments from Africa on legal developments in the rest of the world.
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