About SERAJ

Chapter 2: Bill of Rights
Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Administrative Justice Research Project is situated within the Faculty of Law at Stellenbosch University and is aimed at promoting the role of law in facilitating access to administrative justice and socio-economic rights. SERAJ is a sub-project of the Faculty of Law’s Ciucci Centre for Law and Social Development. The overarching objective of the project is to enhance the responsiveness of the legal system to the problems of poverty, administrative injustice and socio-economic vulnerability at both academic and practical levels. The various research and study projects within SERAJ focus on issues associated with the role of constitutional rights and institutions in eradicating processes of inequality and impoverishment; increasing access to constitutionally enshrined socio-economic rights by disadvantaged groups; and the formulation of focused public programmes and implementation strategies aimed at effective public service delivery in order to translate socio-economic commitments in the Constitution to actual poverty alleviation.

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The Research Project is co-directed by Professor Sandra Liebenberg, H.F. Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law and Fellow of the Ciucci Centre for Law and Social Development, and Professor Geo Quinot, Director of the African Public Procurement Regulation Research Unit and Fellow of the Ciucci Centre for Law and Social Development.

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RESEARCH FOCUS OF SERAJ

The core focus of the SERAJ Research Project is on the legal basis of translating the normative goals set out in the Constitution, legislation and government policies into practice. The project aims to understand what role law can play in facilitating or hampering the realisation of democratic ideals, especially those of a substantive nature. The post-graduate research, training, mentoring and supervision initiatives within the SERAJ research project are structured around two substantive themes: facilitating access to socio-economic rights and the role of administrative justice in guiding state-driven social change.

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The CL Marais was the first library building erected on Stellenbosch University’s campus thanks to a generous donation from a benefactor, Mr CL Marais. Construction on the library started in 1900 and was completed in 1901.

Facilitating access to socio-economic rights

Lead researcher: Professor Sandra Liebenberg – H.F. Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law and Fellow of the Ciucci Centre for Law and Social Development

This component of the SERAJ Research Project focuses on the role of constitutional rights and institutions in eradicating processes of inequality and impoverishment and increasing access to constitutionally enshrined socio-economic rights by disadvantaged groups.

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KEY RESEARCH FOCUS AREAS

  • Developing the substantive content of the various socio-economic rights in the Constitution in order to guide courts and policymakers in giving effect to them, as well as civil society in holding the relevant public and private actors accountable for their realisation.

  • Analysing and evaluating the interpretation of socio-economic rights by courts and through legislation, policy and programmes.

  • Exploring innovative processes and mechanisms for the more effective implementation of socio-economic rights, including remedial mechanisms.

  • Researching and developing improved rules and mechanisms of accountability in respect of private actors and their potential to impact on socio-economic rights.

  • Exploring the linkages between socio-economic rights and democratic participation and deliberation in social policy and service delivery.

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The role of administrative justice in guiding state driven social change

Lead researcher: Professor Geo Quinot – Director of the African Public Procurement Regulation Research Unit and Fellow of the Ciucci Centre for Law and Social Development

In order to translate socio-economic commitments in the Constitution to actual poverty alleviation and socio-economic redress calls for the formulation of focused public programmes and accompanying implementation strategies aimed at effective public service delivery. These governmental activities, which constitute the primary legal means of achieving socio-economic objectives, are largely grounded in administrative law. It follows that research on the interaction between principles of administrative law and socio-economic rights is important to develop an understanding of legal processes aimed at combating poverty, homelessness and socio-economic vulnerability. An administrative law perspective on such processes furthermore highlights the close link between commitments to socio-economic advancement and institutional democracy. It shows the importance of process in achieving particular socio-economic outcomes.

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KEY RESEARCH FOCUS AREAS

  • The role of law in facilitating public administration that is aligned in nature and purpose to the constitutional vision of a socially transformed South African society.

  • The achievement of regulatory coherence amongst a large and diverse array of government interventions/participation in social practices.

  • The way in which the process adopted in pursuing particular transformative objectives  can contribute to or reduce socio-economic vulnerability.

  • The way in which substantive benefits can be transferred to disadvantaged individuals or groups of individuals without undermining the central theme of dignified participation inherent in South African democracy.

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PROJECTED IMPACT AND OUTPUTS OF SERAJ

Research

  • Intensify and expand research activities and outputs that contribute to more effective responses to poverty through administrative justice and socio-economic rights and the various institutions associated with their enforcement, monitoring and implementation.

  • Improve regional and international linkages with researchers working in the fields of administrative justice and socio-economic rights.

  • Increase public awareness and deliberation on key questions relating to socio-economic rights and administrative justice through disseminating our research through seminars, workshops and articles in popular media.

  • Collaborate with other research institutions, NGOs, governmental bodies regarding the development of policy and public interest litigation pertaining to administrative justice and socio-economic rights insofar as this falls within the research focus of the lead researchers.

Post-graduate students

  • Increase the number of post-graduate students working in the field of administrative justice and socio-economic rights.

  • Increase the number of qualified researchers with advanced research experience and degrees working in the field of administrative justice and socio-economic rights.

  • Provide intensive and specialised training to the post-graduate students.

  • Provide exposure to the post-graduate students in respect of government, NGO and academic liaison and involve them in public interest advocacy and litigation to the extent that it complements and does not detract from their primary post-graduate study projects.

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