The creation, under Section 234 of the Constitution of South Africa (1996) of a South African Charter of Religious Rights and Freedoms, signed by every major religious group in South African as well as representatives of leading South African Constitutional Commissions and others is a development of some importance and potential world significance. It will be, once passed into law, the first Charter created under this section. The civil society initial phase of discussions, consultations, meetings and drafting and re-drafting led to the public signing ceremony at the University of Johannesburg on 21 October 2010. The next phase moves to the more formal political phase of government consultations and, presumably further discussions and, it is hoped, eventual passage into law. The governmental part of this looks to be the most challenging. This introductory article discusses some of the relevant background to the formation of the South African Charter and appends the document for wider circulation, and perhaps, emulation in other settings.


South Africa, constitution, charter, religious freedom, rights, dialogue, policy-making

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