Needs, rights and transformation: adjudicating social rights

Liebenberg, Sandra (2006-01)

CITATION: Liebenberg, S. 2006. Needs, rights and transformation : adjudicating social rights. Stellenbosch Law Review = Stellenbosch Regstydskrif 17(1):5-36.

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INTRODUCTION: One of the most contested issues in South Africa’s burgeoning jurisprudence on social rights relates to how the courts should enforce the duties imposed by these rights. Debate has focused in particular on the extent to which the courts should affirm an enforceable right to the provision of basic needs by those who lack access to these needs. In the South African context, this is a plight affecting a substantial portion of our population, and must also be contextualised within the high degree of inequality existing in our society.1 This article explores the relationship between a jurisprudence of basic needs and the transformative goals of the Constitution. The question that interests me is whether a jurisprudence relating to the fulfilment of social and economic needs can have transformative potential, and if so, under what conditions. My aim is to examine how such a perspective can inform the development of our socio-economic rights jurisprudence in a way that supports a project of social transformation consistent with constitutional values and rights.

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