A Second Look at the South African Human Rights Commission, Access to Information, and the Promotion of Socioeconomic Rights

Publication Type:

Journal Article

Source:

Human Rights Quarterly, Volume 27, p.539–561 (2005)

URL:

http://www.jstor.org/stable/20069796

Abstract:

This article takes a "second look" at the place of the South African Human Rights Commission and its role in the promotion of socioeconomic rights through monitoring. It argues that a "first look" at understanding drew heavily on international concepts of monitoring, including those of violations and progressive realization. These concepts have proven to be of limited usefulness in a national context where the justiciability of socioeconomic rights has been achieved. This "second look" proposes an alternative model of national monitoring of socioeconomic rights, based on greater participation, transparency, and a constitutional right of access to information.

Law and personhood

The assembling of a new set of South African and global citizenships has taken on new urgency and a new plurality twenty years after the supposed advent of freedom. Categories make persons and persons make categories, as Jones and Dlamini have recently pointed out. In the South African constitutional text – where the phrase ‘categories of persons’ is written – race is but one of sixteen categories on the formal list. Indeed, the effort of desegregating publics now takes place without the freshness of new symbols and with potentially merely symbolic institutions. In the public sphere, some responses harken back to earlier times – either to times of forward-thinking, to times of social-making, or even to times of separating. Other responses rest in a consumptive present or appear as mere promised rhetorical bridges into the future. In this project WISER will examine the new questions that scholars in the law and the humanities are posing themselves. What are the complex fashions in which bounded enclaves and social categories are fraying and unravelling or reforming? How, if at all, are persons remaking themselves as citizens? At the same time that these questions pose themselves, new fields of play are emerging with the changing audiences of the fashion shops and the sports terrains as well as the changing forms and formats of affluence and the new middle class. The very concept of a person as well as their categorical boundaries may shift with the movement of blood, organs, and self-awareness.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.