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f_0015501_13581 - The Constitutional Protection of...

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The Constitutional Protection of Socio-Economic Rights in Selected African Countries: A Comparative Evaluation John Cantius Mubangizi ……………. Abstract This article evaluates the extent to which a few selected African countries have incorporated socio-economic rights in their constitutions, the mechanisms through which such rights are realised, the challenges such realisation entails and the approach taken by the courts and other human rights institutions in those countries towards the realisation and enforcement of those rights. The survey examines South Africa, Namibia, Uganda and Ghana. Apart from the logical geographical spread, all these countries enacted their present constitutions around the same time (1990 to 1996) in an attempt to transform themselves into democratic societies. In a sense, these countries can be seen as transitional societies, emerging as they have done, from long periods of apartheid and foreign domination or autocratic dictatorships. The latter is true for Uganda and Ghana while the former refers to South Africa and Namibia. The article concludes that South Africa has not only made the most advanced constitutional provision for socio-economic rights, it has also taken the lead in the judicial enforcement of such rights, an experience from which the other countries in the survey can learn. Professor and Deputy Dean, Faculty of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. Professor Mubangizi specializes in Human Rights Law, Constitutional Law and Environmental Law and teaches these courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Cite as: 2 Afr. J. Legal Stud. 1 (2006) 1-19. ©2006 The Africa Law Institute. All rights reserved. The African Journal of Legal Studies (“AJLS”) is a free peer-reviewed and interdisciplinary journal published by The Africa Law Institute (“ALawI”). ALawI’s mission is to engage in policy-oriented research that promotes human rights, good governance, democracy and the rule of law in Africa. The views expressed in the articles and other contributions to the AJLS are those of the authors only, not of our Editorial or Consultative Boards or ALawI. To download or comment on current articles, sign-up for future issues or submit a manuscript, please visit < http://www.africalawinstitute.org/ajls > or e-mail [email protected] AJLS is also available on CIAO Net, HeinOnline, Lexis-Nexis, ProQuest, Quicklaw and Westlaw.
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2 Afr J Legal Stud 1 (2006) 1-19 I. Introduction There is growing international recognition of the universality, interdependence and indivisibility of human rights. Indeed the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in June 1993 emphasised this recognition by proclaiming that ‘[all] human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated.’ 1 What this means is that all human rights should apply to all persons at all times without distinction. It also means that political, economic, social and cultural differences cannot and should not be used as an excuse for the denial or violation of human rights.
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