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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 May 2020
What lessons can we learn from the way in which the South African experience of transformative constitutionalism was invoked in Sri Lanka's recent constitutional reform experience? What conditions allow experiences of transformative constitutionalism to travel? In this article, I respond to these two questions, using Frankenberg's idea of a ‘layered approach’ in comparative constitutional law. My analysis affirms that in the comparative enterprise, a thick explanation that allows each experience to ‘speak for itself’ heightens the value of a comparative example. In the case of South Africa, I demonstrate that transformative constitutionalism is in fact a specific genre of constitutionalism. It demands attention not only to substantive constitutional guarantees and institutional design, but also to the process of constitutional reform. Moreover, effective measures for transitional justice are an essential component of transformative constitutionalism. A closer reading of the South African experience that paid attention to these factors would have led to better use of this experience in Sri Lanka's post-war constitutional governance.
LLB (Hons)(Colombo), LLM (Harvard), PhD (Colombo), Attorney-at-Law (Sri Lanka). Postdoctoral Fellow, ARC Laureate Program in Comparative Constitutional Law, Melbourne Law School; concurrently Senior Lecturer, Department of Public & International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Colombo. A draft of this paper was presented at the ‘Public Law in Four Nations’ conference convened by the Faculty of Law, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa on 2–5 July 2019. I thank Toerien Van Wyk, PhD candidate, Melbourne Law School, for her comments on this paper, and the Academic Research Service at the Melbourne Law School for their research support. Research for this paper was undertaken from April 2019 to August 2019 and was fully funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Program ‘Balancing Diversity and Social Cohesion in Democratic Constitutions’.
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52. Notable among these reforms are the Right to Information Act (Act No 12 of 2016), the Office of the Missing Persons Act (Act No 14 of 2016), and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance Act (Act No 5 of 2018).
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56. This Committee was appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers on 22 December 2015.
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86. For an assessment of public perception, among others, of constitutional reform, see ‘Opinion Poll on Constitutional Reform: Top Line Report’ (Social Indicator, Centre for Policy Alternatives, March 2017) <https://www.cpalanka.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Rapid-survey_final-report_March-2017.pdf> accessed 31 Mar 2020.
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105. Ebrahim & Miller (n 101).
108. ibid 159. See also generally South Africa History Online, ‘Chapter 13 – The public participation process’ (1 September 2019) <https://www.sahistory.org.za/archive/chapter-13-public-participation-process> accessed 31 Mar 2020.
109. Ebrahim & Miller (n 101) 111.
110. For a discussion of this initiative, see ibid 91 ff.
113. See eg Alexander Edward Hudson, The Impact of Public Participation in Constitution Making (PhD dissertation, University of Texas at Austin 2018) 46 ff.
114. The themes were: nature of the state, form of government, basic structure of the constitution, fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy, legislature, supremacy of constitution or parliament, separation of powers, independence of the judiciary and the court structure, constitutional court, devolution and local government, sharing of power at the centre, constitutional council and independent commissions, public service, electoral reforms, judicial review of legislation, powers of president under parliamentary system, election of president under parliamentary system, public security, finance, and any other issues. See Report on Public Representations on Constitutional Reform (n 69) 211.
115. Report on Public Representations on Constitutional Reform (n 69) iii.
117. For a detailed analysis of these proposals, see Mario Gomez et al, ‘Constitutionalising Economic and Social Rights in Sri Lanka’ (CPA Working Papers on Constitutional Reform No 7, September 2016) <https://www.cpalanka.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Working-Paper-7.pdf> accessed 31 Mar 2020; Tom G Daly, ‘A Constitutional Court for Sri Lanka? Perceptions, Potential and Pitfalls’ (CPA Working Papers on Constitutional Reform No 15, April 2017) <http://constitutionalreforms.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CPA_WP_CR_No_15_Final-TDrevno-tracks.pdf> accessed 31 Mar 2020.
118. See eg ‘Introduction’, in Report of the Sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights (Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly of Sri Lanka, November 2016) <https://www.colombotelegraph.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/01-Fundamental-Rights-ste-1.pdf> accessed 31 Mar 2020.
119. See in this regard CA Chandraprema, ‘Radical changes in the Judiciary: New draft constitution – part 4’ The Island (7 August 2018) <http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=189224> accessed 31 Mar 2020.
120. Discussions at the public meeting organized by the Sri Lanka Bar Association on ‘The Report of the Sub-Committee of the Constitutional assembly on Fundamental Rights – perspectives on the inclusion of Socio-Economic Rights in the new constitution’, 10 January 2017.
121. Report of the Public Representations Committee (n 69) 100 ff.
122. See eg the Constitution of Nepal 2015 and the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
123. 1978 Constitution, art 9.
125. See Interim Report of the Steering Committee (n 60), Part IV.
126. See generally ibid.
127. See eg Pierre Legrand, ‘The Impossibility of Legal Transplants’ (1997) 4 Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law 111.
128. ‘We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world’: President Nelson Mandela at his inauguration speech, as cited in Sparks (n 93) 229.
129. Klare (n 16) 150.
130. See in this regard Huntington, Samuel P, ‘Democracy's Third Wave’ (1991) 2 Journal of Democracy 12CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
131. See eg Moffitt, Benjamin, The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style, and Representation (Stanford University Press 2016)Google Scholar.
132. See Gunter Frankenberg, ‘Critical Comparisons: Re-thinking Comparative Law’ (n 14).
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