Seminar: "South Africa to Sri Lanka: Prospects of Travel for ‘Transformative Constitutionalism’"

3-4 July 2019

From 3-4 July, Dr Dinesha Samararatne, Co-Convenor of ConTransNet, participated in the Public Law in Four Jurisdictions Conference. The Public Law in Four Jurisdictions conference is a conference convened alternatively by the Melbourne Law School, the Faculty of Law of Witwatersrand University South Africa, the Faculty of Law and the University of Auckland and the Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong. This year, the conference was hosted by the University of Witwatersrand at the Wits Rural Facility in Limpopo Province.

The conference provides an opportunity to discuss most recent developments in public law in the four jurisdictions as well as more broadly. Dinesha presented a paper examining the use of South Africa’ experience in constitution-making in the 1990s during the more recent attempt at constitution-making in Sri Lanka over the last few years. She asked the following questions in the paper:  What lessons can we learn from the way in which South Africa’s experience of transformative constitutionalism was invoked in Sri Lanka’s recent constitutional reform experience? What conditions allow for experiences of transformative constitutionalism to travel? She argued that a "thicker" approach that pays attention to process as well as to the substantive aspects of constitution-making is essential for using South Africa’s experience in comparative contexts.