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What Should a Re-constituted Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal Be Mindful of to Succeed?

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The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is a sub-regional international organisation comprised of 15 transitional States that have embraced the principle of the rule of law as a basic norm of their constitutional arrangements. Their biggest challenge presently is to undo the provocative and salient legacy of social, economic and psychological apartheid on their territories for almost a century, without disrupting their developmental endeavours. This article examines the question of what role if any the SADC Tribunal envisaged under Article 9 of the constitutive SADC Treaty might play to facilitate successful transitions from apartheid to egalitarian rule. It shows that a multiplicity of dialectics abound that do not allow for easy answers, much to the frustration of both the cultural relativists and their rivals, the universalists, regarding human rights protection. The article recommends meaningful pedagogical engagement of the challenges confronting the SADC sub-region as a direct consequence of almost a century of apartheid - the worst form of governance known to man in recent times. This should inform national, sub-regional and regional dynamics in the pursuit of SADC goals and aspirations. SADC Human Rights Courts and Tribunals are encouraged to develop a “due-account jurisprudence” that is congruous with the transitional requirements of their societies just as the German Federal Constitutional Court had done in the aftermath of the fall of the Reich, and also after the re-unification of Germany.


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Affiliations: 1: Professor of law, Brunel University, London, UK, URL:


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