Constitutionalism, the Global South, and economic justice

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8 Citations (Scopus)


CONSTITUTIONS STRADDLE THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE ideal and the real. As the foundational legal text of a society, they give us an indication of the values that lie at a society's heart. At the same time, they often include large sections that deal with the mechanisms and contours of governance, the structural mediating apparatus that is meant to give concrete effect to these ideals. The Constitution is also importantly a legal text: It enables the legitimate exercise of power within a polity and places constraints on what may be done. Given its foundational legal position, its character and content can condition the way in which a particular society develops. This chapter focuses on the relationship between constitutionalism and distributive justice. In particular, it focuses on three countries – namely India, Colombia, and South Africa – where the Constitutions have included socioeconomic rights and thus placed questions surrounding the distribution of resources at the heart of the constitutional enterprise. These are all countries in what has been termed the “Global South.” These words are placed within quotation marks because the very notion of a Global South is a construct that traverses large differences and has been used to refer to countries as diverse as those in Latin and Central America, Africa, and Asia (which notably is not even in the geographical South). A key focus of this chapter lies in understanding whether there is an emergence of a distinctive type of constitutionalism that characterizes the “Global South,” and, if so, what this looks like. The chapter does not, however, seek only to be descriptive but also to outline normatively what the desirable characteristics of such a “new” constitutionalism would be.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConstitutionalism of the Global South
Subtitle of host publicationThe Activist Tribunals of India, South Africa, and Colombia
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages54
ISBN (Electronic)9781139567114
ISBN (Print)9781107036215
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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