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Just Society

Challenges to equal access to justice and welfare rights in the Global South

JUST SOCIETY is organising its second webinar series in which we dive into political, administrative and legal challenges to equal access to justice and welfare rights across our four partner countries in the Global South: Brazil, Georgia, India and South Africa.

The key purpose of the webinars is to establish a cross-continental dialogue and highlight comparative perspectives on equal access to justice and welfare rights in societies today. The webinars will feature three presentations by researchers from JUST SOCIETY’s partner countries. In subsequent panel discussions, we discuss similarities and dissimilarities across countries and regions and consider how existing challenges to equal access to justice and welfare rights can be alleviated. 

Time for all webinars: Odense 01:00 PM (GMT+1), Johannesburg 02:00 PM (GMT+2), Bangalore 05:30 PM (GMT+5,5), Brasilia 09:00 AM (GMT-3), Tbilisi 04:00 PM (GMT+4)


Administrative barriers to equal access to justice and welfare rights 

Tuesday 28 September 2021, 1-2.15 PM (GMT+2)

This webinar explores specific ways in which the structure of public administration and civil servants’ strategies can serve as barriers to equal access to justice and welfare rights. The three presentations will discuss civil servants’ political neutrality in Georgia, health professionals’ policy implementation strategies in Brazil as well as institutional fragmentation in youth employment programmes in South Africa. In a panel discussion, the webinar will compare perspectives from the three countries and consider how to alleviate the identified administrative barriers to equal access to justice and welfare rights.

Political Neutrality in the Georgian Civil Service?

By Archil Abashidze, Associate Professor of Politics and Public Administration, Ilia State University, Georgia
Archil Abashidze presents the current challenges to political neutrality in the public sector in Georgia. Drawing on his research about public sector reform in Georgia, Archil demonstrates how and why civil servants are more accountable to the ruling party rather than the public. Specifically, and as a perfect warm-up to the upcoming local elections in Georgia in October, Archil focusses on the case of illegal involvement of civil servants in the electoral campaigns and discussed the implications of such misuse of public administrative resources for equal and effective implementation of welfare rights.

Discretion and Public Policy Implementation in the Health System of Campos Dos Goytacazes, Rio de Janeiro State 

By Roberto Dutra, Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Administration at Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense Darcy Ribeiro, Brazil
Roberto Dutra presents findings from an ethnographic study of policy implementation among front-line workers in the Alcohol and Drugs Psychosocial Care Center (CAPS ad) in Campos dos Goytacazes, Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. He discusses the strategies and discretionary practices of health professionals and their implications for inclusive and effective implementation of social policy. The presentation is based on work co-authored with Renan Carneiro.

Young people’s experiences of accessing services in their transition from school to work in South Africa 

By Lauren Graham, Senior Researcher and Director of the Centre for Social Development in Africa at University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Drawing on a series of studies conducted over the past decade, Lauren Graham presents on young people’s experiences of navigating their transitions from school to work in South Africa. She emphasizes how young people experience that their access to public services is constrained by the siloed nature of service provision and suggest an approach to how we can address such barriers.

The webinar is chaired by Louise Munkholm, Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark, and part of JUST SOCIETY.


Politics of equal access to justice and welfare rights 

Tuesday 26 October 2021, 1-2.15 PM (GMT+2)

This webinar will provide a broad and comparative lens on the politics of equal access to justice and welfare rights. The webinar features three presentations that each give their perspective on the politics of equal access: from the contradictions between thick democratic and thin legal conceptions of access in India, the costs of political coordination and coalition building for inclusive social policy in Brazil, to the effects of access to social grants for voter choice in South Africa. Together, the presentations will allow for a cross-continental comparison of the implications of political systems and institutions for equal access to justice and welfare rights. 

Thick and Thin Sides of Access to Justice in India 

By Sony Pellissery, Associate Professor of Public Policy, National Law School of India University - Bangalore, India  

Entitlements to welfare rights had been paradoxical in India right from the time of Constitution making in 1950 in India. Chairman of the drafting committee of Indian Constitution, B. R. Ambedkar, who emerged from the untouchable caste, said most accurately about this paradox: “On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value”. These contradictions have deepened over seventy years in India. In the lecture, how the thick (participative substantive democracy) and thin versions (a set of justiciable legal provisions) of access have addressed these contradictions will be dealt with. As India operates in a federal system, these questions must be dealt through a comparative lens among the regional states of India. 

Political coordination and access to welfare in a multiparty presidential regime 

By Pablo Holmes Chaves, Associate Professor of Political Theory, Dept. of Political Science, University of Brasilia 

Brazil is a federation with a multi-party presidential regime and a proportional electoral system. Recently, party fragmentation in parliament and political party dispersion among the federal states became more prevalent which influences the politics of equal access to justice and welfare rights. The literature on this political arrangement highlights the many coordination problems that may arise and jeopardize the advance of public and social policies. The executive branch’s role in building majoritarian coalitions is key in many policy areas, but the costs of coordination for coalition building and maintenance are high. This implies a permanent trade-off between political spending to maintain the presidential coalition and advancing a social policy agenda. The Brazilian political system thus favours strategic behaviour by relevant political actors, which raises the costs of implementation of any inclusive social policy and ensuring equal access to justice and welfare rights. 

Social grants and voter choice in South Africa   

By Leila Patel, Professor of Social Development Studies and the South African National Research Chair in Welfare and Social Development, Centre for Social Development in Africa, University of Johannesburg 

South Africa has one of the largest social assistance programmes in the Global South. Currently, two out of three households have someone receiving a cash transfer, but how does receiving social grants influence voter choice? And which other determinants are important? Data from four waves of surveys between 2017 and 2020 show that the receipt of a social grant is not associated with a preference for the governing party, the African National Congress; however, fear of loss of a grant if a person votes for an opposition party is a significant predictor of voter choice. Other factors also matter including political leadership (the Presidency), institutional trust, loyalty to the party that brought freedom to the country, and demographic factors such as race and age. These findings do provide emerging evidence of a small but growing political constituency coalescing around the country’s social protection policies, which could ensure the sustainability and robustness of the system.  

The webinar is chaired by Ane Karoline Bak, Assistant Professor of Political Science and researcher on JUST SOCIETY, Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark. 

Legal challenges to equal access to justice and welfare rights 

Tuesday 30 November  2021, 1-2.30 PM (GMT+1), Johannesburg 02:00 PM (GMT+2), Bangalore 5:30 PM (GMT+5.5), Brasilia 09:00 AM (GMT-3), Tbilisi 4:00 PM (GMT+4)

This webinar explores the legal challenges to equal access to justice, social rights and welfare rights in Brazil, Georgia, India, and South Africa. With presentations from each country, the webinar focuses on the direct and indirect discriminatory effects of particular legal frameworks and how these – despite often strong constitutional frameworks – risk perpetuating structural inequalities in social and welfare rights and within the criminal justice system. The four presentations explore how to resolve these existing barriers in ensuring equal protection of access to justice, social rights and welfare rights through e.g. open governance principles. 

In a subsequent panel discussion, comparative observations regarding inequality and discrimination in Brazil, Georgia, India, and South Africa are drawn in an effort to shed light on key challenges to global inequality and structural discrimination.

The Legal Construction of Inequality in Access to Justice and Welfare Rights in Brazil

Juliano Zaiden Benvindo, Associate Professor of Constitutional Law and Director of Center for Comparative Constitutional Studies (CECC), University of Brasilia

Brazil’s 1988 Constitution and its extensive bill of individual and social rights are the direct outcome of Brazil’s democratization process, which featured several movements of organized civil society influencing - and participating in - the constitution-making process. Moreover, Brazil provides important extensive social welfare programs, such as public education, universal health system, a broad social security, conditional cash transfer programs for the most in need, quotas in public universities for black and poorer students, etc. But this is just one side of the story. Preservationist movements are still rife, and the country still exhibits some serious difficulties in providing effective access to such services and rights. Notably, access to justice, and, above all, criminal justice is highly unequal. The perversity of such a reality is that the very legal system fosters such inequalities. The presentation will focus on such contrasts.

Access to social assistance: A South African perspective

Elmarie Fourie, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law and Head of Department of Public Law, University of Johannesburg

In her presentation, Elmarie will consider the challenges to access to social assistance in South Africa, administered under the Social Assistance Act and by South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). In South Africa, social assistance is means-tested and, in fact, available to, for example, domestic workers, informal traders and waster pickers whose minimum incomes comply with the means test. Elmarie will consider the constitutional right to access to social assistance, the enforcement of socio-economic rights, as well as legislative provisions and jurisprudence. She will analyse the wider concept of social protection and substantive equality to improve access to social assistance, poverty and inequalities in South-Africa. She will highlight the importance of the interrelatedness of human rights for vulnerable people in South Africa with reference to access to social security and social protection. Finally, she will discuss the inequalities and challenges to access to social assistance that the COVID-19 pandemic has served to highlight.

Social Security: From working class to working people?

Babu Mathew, Adjunct Professor of Public Policy, National Law School of India University (NLSIU) – Bangalore and Director of Centre for Labour Studies at NLSIU.

This presentation focusses on one out of four new labour Codes in India, namely the 2020 Social Security Code, which has been enacted but not yet brought into force. This new law repeals all earlier laws on the subject of social security and replaces the old laws with the new Code. The new code complies with ILO Convention No. 102 with regards to social security for the organised/formal sector; however, this means a coverage of about only 7% out of India’s 500 million workforce. On the other hand, the unorganised/ informal sector, consisting of the overwhelming majority of the workforce, is effectively discriminated against in so far as they do have access to the same social security to which the organised workers are entitled. Instead, a second-class type of social security has been promised for the informal sector through delegated legislation at an uncertain future date. Babu Mathew will discuss the implications of this duality when it comes to even these basic needs.

Promoting Open Governance Principles as an Effective Solution to the Legal Challenges to Equal Access

Davit Maisuradze, Associate Professor and a Director of the Centre for Corporate and Commercial Law, Ilia State University, and Head of Open Governance Direction at the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)

Open Governance Principles are crucial for ensuring the equal access of all citizens to state services. Open Governance promotes transparency, openness, and involvement of citizens in decision making. Georgia is a parliamentary republic, and therefore, it is critical to have open governance principles on the legislative level and sustainable parliamentary openness. Parliamentary Openness ensures distribution of the information regarding new legislative acts and the amendments to the current laws; involvement of the citizens in the legislative process; submission of the petitions and legislative initiatives, and strengthening of the accountability of the legislative branch of the country. The presentation will discuss issues of parliamentary openness as part of a broad spectrum of open governance principles in the framework of implementing the Open Governance Partnership principles in Georgia.

Did you miss the live webinar?

We are recording all the webinars. You will find them below after the live session. 



Last Updated 20.01.2022