Imagining Equity and Inclusion: South Africa’s International Economic Politics and Reflections on the Writings of Justice Dikgang Moseneke

Authors Erika George

ISSN: 1996-2088
Affiliations: Samuel D Thurman Professor of Law, University of Utah’s SJ Quinney College of Law
Source: Acta Juridica, 2017, p. 227 – 246


In honour of Justice Dikgang Moseneke, this essay takes up his invitation to imagine an ethos consistent with South African Constitutionalism, one which could promote economic justice. This essay explores how the tools of international economic law as utilised by South Africa could serve as a means of transformation to advance the end of a more inclusive economic globalisation. South Africa’s trade policies and participation in international business and human rights policy initiatives are offered as illustrations of a shift towards asserting interests aligned with the country’s constitutional economic justice commitments. First, emphasising Justice Moseneke’s writings outside of his rulings the essay explains the imperative of economic justice for South Africans. Next, the essay situates the strategic policy choices South Africa has made to better align the country’s law and policy with respect for economic and social rights in response to pressures from foreign investors. By ending bilateral investment agreements with some countries and engaging in efforts to advance a binding international agreement on business obligations to respect human rights South Africa is demonstrating that a different approach to engaging with the global marketplace consistent with the calls Justice Moseneke has made in his writings is possible. This essay concludes with a call for legal professionals and policy makers to imagine ways to apply the principles of participation and transformation contemplated in South Africa’s Constitution to international economic law. The unique features of South African law and society hold promise for promoting both economic development and social justice.