Limitation Clauses

Available also in Arabic

Overview

What?

  • A limitation clause enables constitutional rights to bepartially limited, to a specified extent and for certainlimited and democratically justifiable purposes, whileprohibiting restrictions that are harmful to democracy byreason on their purpose, nature or extent.

Why?

  • Many of the rights guaranteed to the citizens of democraticcountries must be limited or qualified - or the scope of rightsnarrowed - in order to prevent conflicts with other rights or withcertain general interests. A well-drafted limitation clause preventsthese limits, qualifications or restrictions from being taken too faror from being misapplied.

Why not?

  • Constitution-makers may decide to make some rights absolutesince violating them to any extent under any circumstanceswould be inhumane and might invite broader violations.
  • In some cases, limitations and qualifications are well establishedby judical precedents.

Where?

  • The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), theCanadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitutionof South Africa are just some of the most influential examples ofrights instruments that explicitly address their own limitation.