The University of Johannesburg with host an IACL Roundtable on 28-29th May 2015 on the theme Separation of Powers in the Global South. Professor David Bilchitz. the Director of SAIFAC and Professor at University of Johannesburg and co-convenor of the Roundtable (with Professor David Landau of Florida State University) explains the central themes of the Roundtable.
The role of the courts in upholding fundamental rights and striking down legislation and government action has been controversial in South Africa. From comments by the President to academics, questions have been raised about whether courts now have too much power to interfere with elected branches of government. Those questions themselves raise pertinently the famous separation of powers doctrine: the power of the state is not to be concentrated in any one place but diffused across several branches which usually include the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.
Yet, this doctrine has not remained static and has changed even in France and the United States, where it originated. In the modern constitutions of the Global South, there have even been more far-reaching transformations with institutions (such as public protectors and human rights commissions) being created which do not fit neatly into the traditional division of powers and courts being accorded greater responsibilities to protect democracy and the basic socio-economic rights of individuals.
Despite these changes, in many places, judges and academics still invoke the traditional doctrine without adequately grappling with the manner in which it has shifted. The South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (a Centre of the University of Johannesburg) together with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung is proud to be hosting a conference that will seek to engage with how the separation of powers should be conceived in the 21st Century, with a particular emphasis on the Global South.
The Roundtable aims to advance legal scholarship and understanding of the separation of powers. The Roundtable has attracted a truly global array of academics and judges including: Prof Vicki Jackson (Harvard University), Prof Manuel Cepeda (University De Los Andes and formerly Constitutional Court of Colombia), Prof Adrienne Stone (University of Melbourne), Prof Mahendra Singh (National Law University, Delhi), Prof Virgilio Alfonso Da Silva (University of Sao Paolo), Judge Redson Kapindu (High Court, Malawi), Prof Charles Fombad (University of Pretoria), Prof Rainer Arnold (University of Regensburg), Prof Selin Esen (Ankara University, Turkey), and Prof Xavier Philippe (University of Aix-en-Provence, France).
Given the key nature of the Constitutional Court to the separation of powers in South Africa, the first day of the conference (28 May 2015) will take place at the Constitutional Court Auditorium. The opening address will be delivered by the Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. The second day of the conference (29 May 2015) will take place at the new Madibeng building of the University of Johannesburg Auckland Park Campus. The Executive Committee of the IACL will hold its meeting on the afternoon following the conference.
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