Some Brief Observations on Fifteen Years of Environmental Rights Jurisprudence in South Africa (L.J. Kotze and A. Plessis)


Louis J. Kotzé & Anél du Plessis


Human Rights, Environmental Rights, Constitutional Law, South Africa


South Africa has recently celebrated its fifteenth year of democracy. The country has achieved much during this period in terms of realizing and upholding the founding democratic values espoused in the opening sections of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Constitution); including, among others: human dignity, the achievement of equality, the advancement of human rights and freedoms, constitutional supremacy, and the rule of law. At the same time, the inclusion of an enforceable substantive environmental right in the Constitution has sparked unprecedented development of the domestic environmental law and governance framework.
In an effort to evaluate the role that the South African courts have played in the development of constitutional environmental rights jurisprudence during the past fifteen years, this contribution commences with an introductory overview of the structure and function of the courts, with specific reference to their general role in environmental governance. The discussion subsequently turns to South Africa’s constitutional environmental right (section 24 of the Constitution), and to a succinct review of a selection of judgments in which the courts have engaged with this provision.


(2010) 3 Journal Of Court Innovation 157