Postdoctoral Fellows and Postgraduate Students
The following fellows and students are funded by or aligned with the work of the Chair.
Co-registered with Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, The Hague.
Working Title: “A socio-legal approach to exploring the transformative potential of the constitutional right to social security to address structural inequalities in South Africa”
In 2018, the World Bank declared South Africa one of the most unequal countries in the world, with inequality increasing since the end of apartheid. This increase in structural inequality has occurred despite the establishment of a constitutional democracy in 1994, founded on principles of dignity, equality and social justice, and the recognition of constitutionally protected civil, political and socio-economic rights. At the same time, the World Bank has celebrated the country’s social protection system, attributing its success to a combination of leadership, the South African Constitution, technical soundness, and active engagement with civil society actors. This research explores the transformative potential of the human and constitutional right to social security, and the implementation of related laws and policies, as normative mechanisms to address the structural inequalities of race, gender, class and age and advance substantive equality in South Africa. The research focuses on the manner in which the executive and legislative branches of the state interpret their domestic constitutional obligations, coupled with their international human rights and development commitments, to realise the constitutional right to social security and advance substantive equality. In particular, it will focus on how national and international laws and policies aimed at expanding social security have addressed the inequalities experienced by black African women aged 18-34 who are living in poverty. This demographic of women constitutes a significant proportion of the country’s population living in poverty and of those who are formally unemployed. By adopting an interdisciplinary analytical framework that draws on human rights-based approaches to development and critical legal theories of constitutionalism, together with socio-legal approaches of legal consciousness and intersectionality, the research will unpack how power manifests through laws and policies, and how the intersection of various forms of legal, political, economic and social power perpetuate the structural exclusion of black African women from post-1994 South African society.
“Duties of Private Persons and the Right to Equality in South Africa”
Meghan's project aims to explore the extent to which private persons bear duties in respect of the right to equality (including specific anti-discrimination duties, as well as positive and socio-economic duties) in South African law. The project will also examine the legal and philosophical justifications for these duties. In answering these principal questions, the project will consider questions of horizontal application of rights; whether constitutional conceptions of equality differ when a private person, rather than the state, is the duty bearer; and how courts should strike the balance between competing rights
Working title: Gender equality and mining
The exclusion of women from economic ownership and participation has not only disadvantaged individual women, but has created and reproduced a wide inequality gap in our society. This research focusses on the gendered implications of ownership, control and employment in the mining sector, with a particular emphasis on evaluating the nature, scope and effects of various laws, policies and charters put in place to advance gender equality in this sector.
“The role of local government in achieving spatial equity through the realisation of the right to housing”
South Africa is a very unequal society and this inequality also manifests itself spacially, especially in cities and towns, where segregation and inequalities in living standards, access to housing and essential services etc. abounds. In addition, cities still bear the deeply entrenched scars of apartheid spatial planning that are marked by settlement distortions, skewed urban economic logic and infrastructure backlog. Due to its close proximity to the people, local government is customarily responsible for the provision of basic services, and constitutionally, it has equally been assigned a service delivery mandate and developmental duties. This thesis therefore looks at the role of the local government in promoting the achievement of spatial equality through its involvement in the progressive realisation of the right of access to adequate housing.
Working Title: Justice in The Zambian Power Sector: Maximizing Local Participation
Due to a current energy crisis and growing demand, Zambia will require massive investments in its electricity infrastructure over the next two decades. Considering the scale of investment required, private sector participation and foreign direct investment (FDI) are inevitable; and thus, over the 5-year period from 2015, the share of private ownership of generation assets has tripled to approximately 24%. However, local participation in the new projects seems to be unjustly low. This reveals the risk that if local participation in the power sector is not emphasized now, then the people of Zambia may look back on this period as a missed generational opportunity. This research seeks to theoretically justify the maximization of local participation in Zambian power projects and to provide a basis for legal reform
Working title: Beyond the binary: Developing an inclusive gender marking legal framework in South Africa
Transgender and intersex movements have existed in the civil society space for years, working towards ensuring the recognition and protection of the rights of transgender and intersex people. One of the conversations brought to the fold by this fight for recognition, is the cross-disciplinary break from traditional gender marking systems that exclude non-gender binary people and how these systems have the potential to alienate, exclude, discriminate and disadvantage intersex and transgender people. The legal gender marker has great implications for an individuals lived experience. South Africa’s legal framework provides for the amendment of the gender marker in certain circumstances. This research identifies and explores the limitations within this legal framework for gender identity by assessing the binary nature of legal identity in South Africa and the implications thereof on gender-non conforming people. By reviewing the existing legal framework and by investigating alternative ones that are more inclusive of all gender identities, this research aim to develop a human rights framework that protects gender non-conformists and structures legislation that is inclusive and understanding of the different genders and processes of self-identification.
LLM (dissertation) students
Working Title: Preaching Forgiveness or Regulating the Unforgivable: Benefits and Shortcomings of Proposed Regulatory Mechanisms for Religious Leaders in South Africa.
Reports of harmful practices, sexual and other forms of abuse and discriminatory practices by religious leaders point to the need to develop effective legal solutions to combat such practices. While there appears to be a variety of internal and external regulatory mechanisms that address religious malpractice within South African religious and legal frameworks, it is not clear that these are effective in achieving their desired outcome. This research seeks to examine the current regulatory framework, as well as proposals for new regulatory approaches, to understand the different models that might exist and which would best suit the South African constitutional, legal and religious setting.
Working Title: A Normative Framework for the Evaluation of the Duty to Reasonably Accommodate Disabled Persons in the South African Workplace
Working Title: An Investigation into Menstruation and the Right to Education: The Specific Challenges of Puberty for Adolescent Girls
When looking at the lived experience of adolescent girls in the developing world, information about sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy, and gender-based violence abound. Under researched however, are the specific challenges faced by girls at the onset of menses and how this interrelates with the education system. The social stigma associated with menstruation, as well as a lack of access to menstrual products may be having a negative effect on young women’s education, and this in turn may be affecting their ability to self-actualise their futures. This research investigates these issues, and considers how rights-based arguments might assist in improving young women’s life-chances.
LLM (Research Report) students
'Gender justice, reconciliation and the South African Constitution’ (2019)
‘Profit over human rights? Socio-economic rights and the obligations of private sector actors’ (2019)
‘Race and gender disadvantage in affirmative action and black economic empowerment in South Africa’ (2019)
'A tale of matriarchy. Transformation and substantive equality in customary law’ (2019)
‘Slapping down Slapp Suits in South Africa: The Role of Advocacy and Activism’ (2020)
‘The decriminalisation of sex work, human rights and Covid-19’ (2020)
‘Access to Education for Undocumented children in South Africa’ (2020)
‘Rights-based litigation techniques and the judiciary in post-1994 South African Socio-economic rights jurisprudence’ (2020)