Date of Submission

Spring 2014

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Political Studies; Human Rights

Project Advisor 1

Peter Rosenblum

Abstract/Artist's Statement

The Constitutional Court of South Africa is perhaps the strongest institution in the country today. It is one of the few places for people to pursue institutional redress. In light of this, this thesis critically examines the reasonableness standard, the depoliticizing rhetoric around poverty the Court uses, as well as the practical obstacles for individuals or groups pursuing public interest litigation through the judiciary. It has found that for the Court to be more effective institution in light of the failings of other bodies conceived of by the Constitution, a number of the Court’s approaches must be altered slightly. The reasonableness standard must function more effectively as a programmatic guide for the government by substantively articulating a minimum core, one which will give government programs a goal to pursue and halt the vicious cycle of programs that don’t know what they are aspiring to. The Court also needs to better recognize the cost of the depoliticizing rhetoric it uses in its judgments, rhetoric that closes down political spaces for contesting poverty. Finally there are technical and practical obstacles including costs, direct access, and individual benefits that poor claimants face when trying to bring socioeconomic issues before the Court. All of these are problems that must be addressed for the Court, as potentially the only institutional actor left to fight for socioeconomic rights, to provide better redress to citizens whose rights have been violated.

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Open Access

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