Litigating the South African Bill of Rights


Course convener(s): Associate Professor Richard Calland

Course outline:
South Africa’s experiment in Constitutional Democracy represents a rich case for the study of modern human rights. The socio-economic and political backdrop against which the Bill of Rights operates provides a complex and challenging context for the laboratory in rights and governance that the 1996 Constitution – and the political settlement that lies behind it – creates. Since the Constitution enjoins the courts to take into account international law when applying and interpreting the rights contained in the Bill of Rights, the course will, therefore, root the South African human rights law trajectory in an international framework and, where appropriate, provide a comparative perspective. Thus, the course tracks the jurisprudence of the South African courts and, in particular, the Constitutional Court since its inception, through the study of specific human rights topics, broadly categorised as:

  • Civil and political rights – such as the right to freedom of expression and free media speech, the right to equality and religious/cultural freedom, etc;
  • Socio-economic rights – such as the right to access to adequate housing, the right to a clean environment, the right to quality basic education, the right to health care, etc;
  • Programmatic rights – such as the right to access to justice and the ‘right’ to participate in public policy-making

The course will also consist of several sessions dealing with the conceptual and practical aspects of litigating constitutional cases.

DP requirements: Satisfactory attendance at and participation in lectures and completion of written and other assignments.

Assessment: Coursework 40%, Exam 60%.