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By contrast, South Africa’s fifth and current Constitution is regarded by some as “activist” and is one of the most prominent English-language charters to promote “positive” socioeconomic rights, including rights to healthcare, housing and education.University of Cape Town professor Christina Murray, a senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace and one of the drafters of both the South African and the Kenyan constitutions, recently visited Tunisia and Libya and held informal discussions with her legal counterparts on constitutional options.Perhaps [she admires] how it explicitly recognises diverse groups and languages and how a single limiting clause controls that Bill of Rights,” Murray said.Kenya’s recently promulgated Constitution, besides drawing on the Ghanaian effort, had “essentially copied” from South Africa on the structure of rights.The study examined hundreds of documents and found that, on average, countries replaced their governing law every 19 years.Brown said the American Constitution was “skeletal” on both rights and their enforcement and that “no one has seriously sought to copy it in 100 years”.David Law, co-author of the Washington University study, said evidence suggested that South Africa’s growing reputation as a “constitutional power” was overblown, adding that it also shared a highly influential status with its Canadian counterpart.“Between 19, the South African Constitutional Court cited Canadian Supreme Court decisions on a collective total of 850 occasions.

South Africa’s unusual provision of rights for citizens, binding them to principles such as non-discrimination in the workplace, was one example of a specific feature that new democracies might consider, said Murray.Another was the provision for public participation and consultation in Parliament.But, she said, “in their position I would hesitate before adopting the kind of second chamber of Parliament we have in South Africa and Kenya, which is very complex”.This week, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, referring to South Africa’s liberal provisions, said human rights were conferred by God rather than governments.The US’s surprisingly brief charter of 1787 is regarded as a limited government, hands-off style document and its provision for a separation of powers has been widely emulated.Tarek Masoud, an Egyptian professor of political science at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, said that, ironically, Egypt’s 1971 Constitution, “but for a few amendments, would have been a very serviceable document”.

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