n South African Journal on Human Rights - Does Sandra Liebenberg's new book provide a viable approach to adjudicating socio-economic rights?

Volume 27, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



Finding ways to eradicate the dire poverty that afflicts South Africa is perhaps one of the most pressing challenges in the 21st century. Some regard this as a pure matter of policy, upon which economists, social scientists and politicians must decide. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, however, gives an important role to lawyers and judges in dealing with socio-economic deprivation by including justiciable socio-economic rights in the Bill of Rights. Determining the meaning, and appropriate role of the judiciary in their enforcement were matters that were hotly contested during the drafting of the South African Constitution. Those questions have continued to elicit academic and judicial engagement subsequent to the adoption of the final Constitution in 1996. Prof Sandra Liebenberg's 2010 book charts the history of the inclusion of these rights in the South African Bill of Rights. It engages with the key debates surrounding these rights and provides an approach as to how these should be resolved. It is clearly written, lucid and excellently researched. The book thus represents a significant contribution to the literature on socio-economic rights and it indeed demonstrates the accumulated knowledge and understanding gained through the author's impressive body of research in this field.

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