New book on law and poverty
The ability of the law to respond effectively to systemic poverty and inequality in society is dealt with comprehensively in a new book edited by Professors Sandra Liebenberg and Geo Quinot of Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Law Faculty. (Click here for a video).
Titled Law and Poverty: Perspectives from South Africa and Beyond (Juta & Co), the book contains essays by leading South African and international experts together with emerging young scholars. These were first presented at a colloquium hosted by the Faculty in May 2011 under the banner of SU’s HOPE Project, a campus-wide programme through which the institution is tackling major societal challenges.
“This book offers academic perspectives on the relationship between law and social justice across a range of themes of central concern to South Africa at its current political and developmental juncture,” said Liebenberg, who occupies the HF Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law at SU.
Topics covered in the book include gender transformation, socio-economic rights and administrative justice, property law, land reform and security of tenure, housing, unemployment and the right to work, access to water, and customary law.
In his contribution, former Chief Justice Pius Langa argues that the elimination of poverty “is critical to democracy, development and the stability of our constitutional state.”
Prof Karl Klare of Northeastern University in Boston points out that “in their scholarship and activism” the local contributors to the book “fight to eradicate poverty both because poverty is wrong and because it is prima facie illegal” – based on the fact that poverty-eradication is a constitutional imperative in South Africa.
Other international contributors include Professors Nancy Fraser of The New School for Social Research in New York, Lucy Williams, also of Northeastern University, Emilios Christodoulidis of the University of Glasgow, Sandra Fredman of Exeter College at Oxford University, and Frank Michelman of Harvard University.
Local contributors include High Court Judge Dennis Davis, Prof Cathi Albertyn, Dr Lilian Chenwi and Mr Sanele Sibanda of the University of the Witwatersrand, Professors Avinash Govindjee of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Danie Brand of the University of Pretoria, Dr Jackie Dugard and Adv Stuart Wilson of the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa, Dr Sindiso Mnisi Weeks and Ms Aninka Claasens of the University of Cape Town’s Law, Race and Gender Project, Dr Gustav Muller of Rhodes University, and Stellenbosch University Professors Henk Botha, Ockert Dupper and Juanita Pienaar.
Quinot, who teaches Administrative and Constitutional law at SU and is editor of the Stellenbosch Law Review, says that the book takes the debate in South Africa about law and poverty forward.
“There is much talk at the moment about a so-called ‘second transition’ in South Africa, which is a response to the perception that we have not made sufficient progress in addressing the dire social and economic realities of most of our population. It is imperative for us to understand what role law has played in this failure, as well as what contribution law can make towards such a second transition,” he said.