Eastern Cape communities, legal NGOs and the courts have played - and continue to play - a leading role in expanding the frontiers of legal procedures to enforce socio-economic rights. These innovations have influenced public interest litigation throughout South Africa, and have contributed significantly to international interest in the role of socio-economic rights litigation in challenging poverty. Prof Sandra Liebenberg will address the ways in which litigation has vindicated the rights of many, illustrating how the Eastern Cape has been a leader in litigation cases.
“South Africa’s constitution is fairly ground-breaking internationally because we have economic and social rights, like housing, healthcare and education as enforceable rights in the constitution. It’s not completely unique but it’s really one of the new frontiers of constitutionalism. And then one of the big challenges is how to make these rights real for people and there’s enormous interest internationally, in economic and social rights, and how to enforce them and how they can lead to real tangible changes in people’s lives, through advocacy and public interest litigation,” says Liebenberg.
Liebenberg is the H.F. Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law at the University of Stellenbosch and she is a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Law at Rhodes. She will be presenting on the pioneering work that has been done in the Eastern Cape, in terms of economic and social rights and how people use the law to improve their circumstances through mechanisms such as class actions.
“The law and processes of social change are very interconnected and it’s about building organisations and building people’s awareness of their human rights and being able to assert that, so I look at some key cases in the Eastern Cape in the areas of social security, mainly education rights and the impact that has had in South Africa generally,” adds Liebenberg.
The public lecture titled, "Forging new tools for vindicating the rights of the poor in the crucible of the Eastern Cape" will take place on Monday 28 July at 18:00 in Eden Grove Blue Lecture Theatre. Refreshments will be served following the lecture.