Our Invitation

• From local to international •

‘What the Constitution expressly aspires to do is to provide a transition from grossly unacceptable features of the past to a conspicuously contrasting “future founded on the recognition of human rights, democracy and peaceful co-existence.”’

- S. v. Makwanyane

In these powerful words, Justice Mahomed captured the mission of the South African Constitution: to transform South African society from a deeply unjust past to a future that would instantiate the highest universal ideals.

The ambition was vast, namely, through legal means, effectively to bring about fundamental change in the society. The tools were an entrenched bill of rights, and a range of new institutional structures including a Constitutional Court, Human Rights Commission and Ombudsperson.

It gives me great pleasure to invite constitutional scholars from across the world to come and experience South Africa and draw your own conclusions.

The World Congress of Constitutional Law, for the first time, will be held on the African continent in Johannesburg, seat of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

Johannesburg is a city where both the achievements and challenges of constitutionalism are in evidence. It is a city where economic opportunities draw not only the diverse tapestry of cultures that make up South Africa but also a large migrant community from across the rest of the African continent.

COULD SUCH A MAJOR EXPERIMENT SUCCEED?

It is a place of innovation where the pulse of new neighbourhoods is in evidence as is a rich cultural life. It too is sadly a place where the massive disparity between rich and poor is visible and the difficulties of achieving wide-scale economic upliftment are in evidence.

This rich societal context is the backdrop against which the most exciting and stimulating event in the world of Constitutional Law will be held. The South African experience provides a rich context against which to reflect on the shared challenges across the world relating to fundamental rights and governance.

Professor, Fundamental Rights and Constitutional Law, University of Johannesburg

Director, South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (a Centre of the University of Johannesburg)

Professor, University of Reading

Vice-President, International Association of Constitutional Law

Chair: Local Organising Committee for World Congress of Constitutional Law