Three judges, from three different legal traditions, will visit Sri Lanka and speak on the role that constitutional courts have played in their respective countries, at a forum on 4 October in Colombo.
The three judges; Chief Justice Alejandro Linares-Cantillo, Justice Edwin Cameron, and Justice Ilwon Kang, come from three different legal traditions: the Latin American, the South African, and the East Asian, respectively.
Each of their societies had to manage different socio-political and historical contexts including economic prosperity, political violence, and social inequality.
The three judges will reflect on how constitutional courts have contributed to the transformation of unequal social relations in their different societies, and advancing public integrity and the rule of law.
Alejandro Linares-Cantillo, is the current Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of Colombia; the highest court in Colombia. Justice Edwin Cameron has served for almost 10 years on the Constitutional Court of South Africa; the highest court in that country. Justice Ilwon Kang recently retired from the Constitutional Court of South Korea, having served six years in that court.
Constitutional and supreme courts have begun to play a more robust role in promoting equality, public integrity, and the rule of law. The idea that the constitution is the supreme law of the land and its values and norms should be advanced and protected has gained currency in several Asian and other courts.
A consequence has been the increasing role that judges and courts have been required to play in the governance of their societies.
Constitutional and supreme courts are required to decide on the impeachment of holders of public office, the registration and proscription of political parties, the interpretation of religious statutes, the legality of personal laws and intrusions into privacy, disputes on centre-state relations, and the constitutional validity of public policy.
In some countries, international law, international human rights norms, and the directive principles of state policy found in the constitution, were explicitly integrated into constitutional adjudication. In many countries, comparative law was widely cited.
Accompanying the robustness of courts in many parts of the world has been the ebb and flow of politics. Courts in many countries have had to respond to the challenges of authoritarianism, the spread of violent extremism and religious radicalisation, economic prosperity and economic marginalisation, acute poverty, the abuse of power for personal gain, growing inequality, gender-based violence, inter-religious violence, and threats to independent institutions.
Institutional design, judicial personalities, legal and constitutional history, and extra-legal constraints have all made an impact on the robustness and responses of constitutional and supreme courts in different parts of the world.
The three judges will reflect on how courts in these different legal traditions have responded to the social, economic, and political issues in their different societies.
The forum will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Jetwing Colombo Seven, Ward Place, Colombo 7.
The forum is organised by the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Rule of Law Asia Programme.
Participation is by invitation. Contact Lakmaliat the International Centre for Ethnic Studies for registration, on: 011 2685085; 011 2679745 or [email protected]