FACULTY OF LAW
Director Research Unit: Research Unit for Law, Justice and Sustainability
Prof Willemien du Plessis, 018 2991969; Willemien.duPlessis@nwu.ac.za
Research Unit projects and sub-projects
ENVIRONMENTAL LAW: DEVELOPMENT, CHANGE AND GOVERNANCE- Prof Louis Kotze
This project critically interrogates various aspects of South African environmental law in relation to development, change and governance. It specifically focuses on law, governance, change and development in Southern Africa and the extent to which the environmental law framework responds to challenges arising from the foregoing.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ENVIRONMENT LAW AND GOVERNANCE - Prof Anel du Plessis
This project critically explores the various dimensions and complexities of the interrelationship between local government and environmental law in South Africa. The project has a strong rights-based and constitutional law focus in further exploring the realisation of environmental rights (both substantive and procedural) within the local sphere of government. There is room for comparative study in this project to the extent that municipalities in Africa and elsewhere in the world, are often confronted with similar problems than South Africa as far as it concerns the making, implementation and enforcement of environmental law. This project has been running for the past eight years and continue to result in scholarly articles, book chapters, LLM dissertations and LLD theses. The project has scope also for post-doctoral studies. Project participants regularly participate in workshops as well as national and international conferences. The research for and output of this project are further used to make a contribution in the community by means of training and collaboration with municipalities.
DEVELOPING AND UTILISING LABOUR LAW TO PROMOTE DECENT WORK IN SOUTH AFRICA AND THE SADC REGION PROJECT: LOCAL - Prof Nicola Smit
The International Labour Organisation has adopted the aim of promoting the development of “decent work” in its member states. South Africa, as a member state, also has an obligation to strive towards achieving this aim. Workers (and their families) may utilise various legal avenues to develop economically and socio-economically and to realise their potential. One of these instruments is the optimal development and application of Labour and Social Security Law.
The object of this project is to reconsider and develop the nature, role and application of Labour and Social Security Law in order to promote and possibly realise:
a) increased security in labour opportunities in the formal and informal economy;
b) the effective organisation and representation of workers in social institutions and processes;
c) the protection of workers’ rights to freedom of association, collective bargaining and equality; and
d) social protection that includes social insurance against diverse risks, inter alia unemployment, occupational injuries, retirement, illnesses and death.
POSTHUMANISM AND LAW - Prof Linda Stewart
POSTHUMANISM AND LAW focuses on analysing and creatively engaging with human rights in the constitutional state with particular reference to the radical philosophy of immanence of Deleuze and Guattari. Instead of perceiving philosophy historically, Deleuze and Guattari (1994 2, 108), describe philosophy as the creation of new concepts, where these concepts ‘in itself calls for a future form, for a new earth and people that do not yet exist’. The creation of new concepts aims to open up/unwraps/liberate questions whether a particular concept works, and whether it unlocks the series of possibilities in a given situation. Philosophical concepts therefore have a transformative power, when inserted into actual fields or assemblages, to produce change that goes beyond representational thought and/or dialectical/binary thinking. While Deleuze views philosophy as the creation of new concepts, he regards jurisprudence (legal philosophy and not case law) as the creation of a system of rights that proceeds by singularities, by working out from singularities. Deleuze (On Human Rights http://www.generation-online.org/p/fpdeleuze10.htm) remarks that human rights are meaningless, empty and pure abstractions. He extends his ‘criticism of representational thought as a limitation on possibility and experimentation’ to the idea of human rights which are based on a fixed and closed concept of the human (Lefebvre 2012, p. 51). Along with Guattari he argues that universal rights presuppose an abstract subject of rights that cannot be reduced to any singular, existent figures. These rights belong to everyone but to no one in particular. Therefore, these rights ‘say nothing about the immanent modes of existence of people provided with rights’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1994, p. 107). Deleuze and Guattari favours materialism which presuppose an objective world where suffering and exploitation exists and which can be changed by objective interventions. Deleuze thus rejects the idea of a defined and a-historical list of invented human rights and the traditions that advance human rights. He criticises human rights as unresponsiveness to move beyond the formal legal construct of a subject/image in thought. This project draws on the work of Deleuze and Guattari and explores the concepts created by them to creatively engage with the law and human rights in terms of the constitutional state. For more information see the blog, entitled fuZZy face (http://fuzzyfacial.wordpress.com).
MODERN DAY IMPACT OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN SOUTH AFRICA - Prof Christa Rautenbach
The project’s research focuses on an analysis of cultural diversity issues in a legal context. Contemporary issues include the meaning and scope of culture in a legal context, cultural governance, cultural sustainability and cultural (and religious) legal systems in a legal pluralistic context.
TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT - Prof Leonie Stander
The purpose of this project is to research the promotion of trade in the developing world through public procurement, the effective development and management of trade through insurance and the promotion of trade through the effective development of the cross-border insolvency law. In the first sub-programme the promotion of trade through public procurement and important aspects relevant to public procurement will be studied. In the second sub-programme the focus is on aspects of insurance law in support of effective management and development of trade within the context of import and export matters. The project links to the trade and environment project. In the third sub-programme the focus is on the development of the insolvency law, especially the principles regarding cross border insolvency law, in order to promote trade through import and export. This project also links to the trade and environment project.
ADR IN THE CONTEMPORARY SOUTH AFRICA - Ms Michelle Schoeman
RETHINKING AND DEVELOPING PROPERTY AND LAND REFORM IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL STATE - Prof Anél Gildenhuys
The aim of the project is to rethink and develop property (in its wider sense) and land reform. “Property defined in its wider sense” refers, for example, to research on: a) the reform of the basic concepts of property law; b) law of neighbours and public nuisance; c) virtual property and virtual property law and d) constitutional property law. Land reform research includes research on: a) rural development; b) communal land c) registration of land tenure rights; d) corporate social responsibility and land reform ; e) food security and land reform ; f) communal property institutions and g) interpretation of constitutional provisions, namely sections 25-27 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.
VIRTUAL WORLDS, INTERNET AND THE LAW - Prof Wian Erlank
Social interaction, trade, property and the law are inextricably linked together in the daily functioning of virtual worlds and more broadly speaking the internet, social and electronic media. As such, this project investigates the legal aspects of interaction between real and virtual worlds as well as the effect that the increasing use of such virtual worlds has on law in the real world and to which extent we can learn from the developments in this field. Further investigation is also undertaken into new legal problems that are caused by the use of the internet and similar new technologies.
Justice in Practice
THE INFLUENCE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOUTH AFRICAN MUNICIPAL LAW - Dr Hein Lubbe
The relationship between international law and municipal law is an important international law issue. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 contains various provisions with regards to the position of international law in the South African legal order. The interpretation of these provisions, however, brings about uncertainty. The primary aim of this project is to investigate the relationship between international law and municipal law, with specific reference to the South African legal order.
Aims of the project: The project aims, from the angle of different legal scientific disciplines and from an interdisciplinary approach, to identify deficiencies in the South African legal theory and practice; to propose possible solutions thereto; and to critically evaluate new developments in South African law.
NEW THINKING IN LAW - Dr Michelle Barnard
The law does not function in a vacuum. For the legal scientific activities to be relevant, effective and accessible, modern social realities must be considered by taking cognisance of developments in other scientific domains. Interdisciplinary research becomes increasingly necessary.
Aims of the project: The project aims from the angle of different legal scientific disciplines and from an interdisciplinary approach to identify deficiencies in the South African legal theory and practice and propose possible solutions thereto and critically evaluate new developments in South African law.