WHY LOVE OUR CONSTITUTION
- It protects you. If it were not for the constitution, you could be arrested for almost anything. You might not realise it, but each and every day you are free in ways that were unimaginable 25 years ago.
- Our children’s rights are the best in the world.The section on children in our constitution has higher standards than the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- It’s practical. Imagine if one group decided on which rights everyone else got to have? There’s no other way to cope in a diverse society where everyone has a different idea about the way we should live.
- It’s fair. Everyone has the right to practice their own culture, religion and traditions as long as these don’t violate the rights of others.
- It’s advanced. It includes rights that aren’t mentioned in other constitutions, like children and the environment. Our constitution is studied around the world because it’s considered so advanced.
- It gives us freedom. We can tell jokes about anything we like – in many countries, you can be jailed for insulting the president or the king.
- It’s accessible. Nobody enjoys more rights just because they’re rich and powerful. We’re all equal before the law.
- It carries legal weight. If you think your rights are being violated, you have several options listed here. That’s the point of We The People: to educate you – because if you don’t know what your rights are, you can’t stand up for them.
- Votes are more powerful than tanks.The army does not have the power to change the government because our constitution regards the votes of ordinary people as the most important deciding factor.
- It represents the people of South Africa at our best. We all know we don’t always achieve the standards spelled out in the constitution, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to reach them.
- Our Constitution is unique because it includes what constitutional scholars call “positive rights”. It requires the state to enact policies that minimise inequality. It frees South Africans from discrimination and redresses historical inequalities over personal choice, whether about who you love or reproductive rights.
- Some of the more unusually progressive rights have come under particular spotlight, such as the unqualified “Everyone has the right to life”, and the inclusion of sexual orientation as one of the grounds upon which discrimination is forbidden.
- It’s also one of the only constitutions that include third generation rights. Third-generation human rights are those rights that go beyond the mere civil and social e.g.
Group and collective rights
Right to self-determination
Right to economic and social development
Right to a healthy environment
Right to natural resources
Right to communicate and communication rights
Right to participation in cultural heritage
Rights to intergenerational equity and sustainability