Institut d'Etudes Européennes de l'Université libre de Bruxelles
CHAIRE FRANCQUI au titre belge
Professeur aux Facultés Universitaires Notre Dame de la Paix - Namur
"Is Legal Radicalism Effective to Confront Oppressive Social Norms ?"
The persistence of oppressive or inequitable social norms in many developing countries is an obstacle to the emancipation of significant sections of their population. To end these norms represents a big challenge because they are typically supported by deep-rooted customs and values. It is often assumed that statutory laws are ineffective in the presence of such customs. In this lecture, however, I suggest that the interaction between the modern law and the custom may give rise to several outcomes, and in one of these outcomes the custom evolves in the direction of the law. Moreover, the controversy between radical and moderate reformers can be usefully revisited when an interactive approach between law and custom is followed. Finally, in those cases where the law remains “a dead letter”, it needs to be complemented by other actions that add internal to external empowerment of the disadvantaged groups of the population.