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Centre News & Events: 2011

Public Launch: Best Practices of the Red Light Campaign

The Red Light Campaign Coalition made up by WLSA and SANTAC in partnership with the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria invites you to the public launch of Best Practices of the Red Light Campaign. This booklet provides a synopsis of the rich experiences and successful practices of the Red Light 2010 Campaign, a network of organisations working to combat human trafficking and the exploitation and abuse of women and children.


The Red Light 2010 Campaign’s implementing organisations include: Anex-CDW; Jo’burg Child Welfare; Junior Citizens; Gender Links; KwaZulu Regional Christian Council (KRCC); SANTAC; Women in Law in Southern Africa (WLSA); Community Media For Development; Gender Links; and Radio Community Cascatas.

Oxfam GB and UN Women provide the campaign with technical and financial support.

Wednesday 7 December 2011 | 10:00
University of Pretoria, Faculty of Law, Room 2-2.1
Kindly RSVP to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by Monday 5 December 2011
 

Panelists:
Matrine Chuulu - WLSA
Margarida Guitunga - SANTAC
Carol Bews - Johannesburg Child Welfare Society
Debbie Walter - CMFD

Thank You:
Alice Banze - Oxfam Great Britain

Helen Kanzira Memorial Lecture presented by Mary Robinson

On Tuesday 29 November, Ms Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Founder and President of the Foundation for Climate Justice, and Extraordinary Professor at the Centre for Human Rights, presented the annual Helen Kanzira lecture in Senate Hall at the University of Pretoria.  HE Brendan McMahon, Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland to South Africa introduced Ms Robinson.



Approximately 200 guests attended the lecture in honour of Helen Kanzira, a graduate of the first class of the LLM in Human Rights in Democratisation in Africa at the Centre for Human Rights.  Tragically, in 2007 she passed away in Uganda during childbirth.  In commemorating Helen's spirit and dedication to human rights in Africa, the Centre for Human Rights also aims to bring attention to the unacceptably high rate of maternal mortality in African countries as a violation of women's reproductive health.

Through her lecture entitled, 'Climate Change and Human Rights: Connecting the Dots on Sexual and Reproductive Health', Ms Robinson illustrated the interdependence and indivisibility of human rights by seamlessly linking issues of climate change to women's health and gender equality.  The guests, who ranged from students and professors, to representatives of various international organisations and national NGOs, were captivated by Ms Robinson's sharing of her personal experiences over the years wearing many 'hats' whereby she aimed, and in many cases succeeded, to influence actors of the international community to adhere to their international human rights obligations.  She spoke also of her current participation in COP 17 and of her hopes for the conference outcomes, including that a wide representation of voices would be incorporated, including those of the women who are most marginalised and affected by climate change.

Generous financial support for the event was provided by Irish Aid, a partner of the Centre for Human Rights.

Photos:

Helen Kanzira Memorial Lecture :: Presented by Mary Robinson           Helen Kanzira Memorial Lecture :: Presented by Mary Robinson            Helen Kanzira Memorial Lecture :: Presented by Mary Robinson Helen Kanzira Memorial Lecture :: Presented by Mary Robinson

Photos by Ryan Kilpatrick


World AIDS Day: On the Gutting of the Global Fund

1 December is World AIDS Day. This day is clouded by the cuts to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Stephen Lewis, Co-Director of AIDS-free World made the passionate plea fro donor states to reconsider their position, and suggested some alternatives.

On this day, the Centre for Human Rights adds its voice of support to that of Stephen Lewis.




West and Central Africa Consultation on the Democracy Charter and the  Draft Model Law for AU Member States on Access to Information, 10 to 12 October 2011, Dakar, Senegal

The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) University of Pretoria, and the Institute for Democracy in Africa (IDASA), in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, held a West and Central Africa consultation on the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and the Draft Model Law for AU Member States on Access to Information from 10 to 12 October 2011, in Dakar, Senegal.



Representatives of Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs, Parliament, Election Management Bodies, National Human Rights Institutions, Media and Civil Society from nineteen countries namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire,  Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo, participated in the consultation.

On the first day of the consultation, discussions were held on the potential usefulness of the Democracy Charter in addressing contemporary challenges in Africa, such as tackling unconstitutional changes of government, safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process, combating corruption and aiding development. The next day, participants shared experiences on the progress and challenges encountered in the ratification and domestication of the Democracy Charter in their respective countries.

Consequently, participating countries were classified into three groups: States that have ratified the Charter and deposited their instruments of ratification; States that have ratified but have not deposited their instruments of ratification and States that are yet to sign or have signed but are yet to ratify the Charter. Subsequently, each of these groups was tasked with developing specific Plans of Action to implement or to expedite the deposit of instruments of ratification or to ratify the Democracy Charter.

In however emerged from discussions that five countries namely: Benin, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria have ratified the Democracy Charter, but for various reasons are yet to deposit their instruments of ratification at the African Union AU Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Bearing in mind that only five more ratifications are required to secure the coming into force of the Democracy Charter, representatives from these five countries presented Plans of Action to ensure the speedy coming into force of this treaty.

Thereafter, a consultation was held on the Draft Model Law on Access to Information, which has been developed pursuant to Resolution 167 (XLVIII) 2010 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), authorising the Special Rapporteur to initiate the process of developing a model access to information legislation for Africa.

Presentations on the content of the working draft of the Model law were made by some members of the Model Law Working Group which developed the present draft, followed by extensive discussions by participants in the form of comments, questions and suggested improvements.

The feedback received from this consultation, together with those received at further subregional public consultations, will guide and inform any necessary amendments to the working draft of the Model Law. The next consultation, which is for North Africa, is scheduled to hold in January 2012, in Cairo, Egypt.

Once finalised, it is expected that the Model Law will be adopted by the ACHPR at its 51st Ordinary Session in April 2011, to guide Member States in their adoption or review of access to information laws, and provide uniform benchmarks for evaluating their effective implementation

Financial support for this meeting was provided by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and the Institute for Democracy in Africa (IDASA).


Download the Action Plans:

Photos:

Opening Session :: Dakar, Senegal Opening Session :: Dakar, Senegal Opening Session :: Dakar, Senegal Opening Session :: Dakar, Senegal

Maternal health in South Africa:
Delivering Women's Human Rights

Over seventy students, lawyers, nurses, midwives, NGO staff from across Africa and other interested individuals packed a lecture hall on Wednesday 19 October for a panel discussion on maternal health in South Africa presented by the Centre for Human Rights. As the rate of maternal mortality more than quadrupled in South Africa in the last decade, the need to examine the related issues, challenges and opportunities is critical.



Panelist Karen Clark presented one inspiring success story, which represents a potential model for maternal health in rural areas. Ms Clark’s Birthworks Busfare Babies Birth Centre provides compassionate, quality care for pregnant women in rural Eastern Cape province, where she noted that care for women is often difficult to access. Delays in health care for expectant mothers can have disastrous consequences, including threats of HIV transmission and complications that can claim the lives of mother and/or child. Unfortunately, as Ms Clark observed, where access to health care is available, women often complain that medical staff are verbally and sometimes physically abusive before, during and after labor.

Dr Agnes Odhiambo from Human Rights Watch shared findings from her organisation’s recent report on maternal mortality and morbidity titled “Stop Making Excuses.” Dr Odhiambo told the group that 385 000 women globally die each year from pregnancy-related causes. More than 4 500 are South African women. What’s worse, perhaps, is that these deaths are entirely preventable. And this, she stated, is what makes maternal health a human rights issue. Maternal mortality typically follows a series of human rights violations, such as denial of the rights to health, education, liberty, dignity and life. Governments must do more to, according to Dr Odhiambo, to offer a continuum of services from adolescence through adulthood, which necessitates an increase in the number of skilled health care workers and includes unfettered access to family planning and safe abortion options. Dr Odhiambo also stressed the importance of accountability where the identification of key problem areas can help address pregnancy-related health issues and deaths. 

As the Chief Director of Maternal and Women's Health within the National Department of Health, panelist Dr Eddie Mhlanga understands that there is a great need to eliminate provincial disparities in the access to and quality of maternal health care in South Africa. Challenges exist, he recognized, stemming from the lack of skilled health care professionals and the prevalence of negative attitudes about the state health care system. South Africa must undertake initiatives, he said, to improve primary health care, increase the skills of midwives and nurses, and ensure access to contraception and family planning services. As importantly, declared Dr Mhlanga, there must be strong and substantial advocacy for women’s rights because, as he eloquently concluded, “unless women are respected, nothing else will make sense.”

And it is true. The women of South Africa are delivering the country’s future every day; it is therefore incumbent on the country to deliver South African women’s human rights every day.

Photos:

Maternal Health in South Africa - Delivering Women's Human Rights :: 19 October 2011          Maternal Health in South Africa - Delivering Women's Human Rights :: 19 October 2011          Maternal Health in South Africa - Delivering Women's Human Rights :: 19 October 2011          Maternal Health in South Africa - Delivering Women's Human Rights :: 19 October 2011          Maternal Health in South Africa - Delivering Women's Human Rights :: 19 October 2011          Maternal Health in South Africa - Delivering Women's Human Rights :: 19 October 2011          Maternal Health in South Africa - Delivering Women's Human Rights :: 19 October 2011          Maternal Health in South Africa - Delivering Women's Human Rights :: 19 October 2011          Maternal Health in South Africa - Delivering Women's Human Rights :: 19 October 2011          Maternal Health in South Africa - Delivering Women's Human Rights :: 19 October 2011          Maternal Health in South Africa - Delivering Women's Human Rights :: 19 October 2011          Maternal Health in South Africa - Delivering Women's Human Rights :: 19 October 2011

8th Annual African Trade Moot Court Competition

The International Development Law Unit at the Centre for Human Rights was pleased to host the 8th Annual African Trade Moot Competition from 3 – 7 October 2011.

This event has been a focal point for undergraduate students interested in Trade Law since its inception in 2005.

Ten teams from three African countries participated in this competition, with the problem to be argued set on the connection between trade law and third generation human rights, particularly environmental law. Two days were put aside for each team to argue twice as complainants and respondents before a panel consisting of faculty representatives of the participating universities.



The intermission for the litigation was a World Trade Organisation Training Seminar on Trade Law, which was presented by Dr Gustav Brink, and Extraordinary Lecturer of the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria.

The winning team for the 2011 Competition was the University of Cape Town, with Rhodes University obtaining the prize as the runner-up. This final session was conducted before a panel of judges consisting of Mr Lambert Botha (Director: Trade Law Chambers), Dr Gustav Brink, Mr Ronnie Mkhwanazi (MD: Mkhwanazi Inc.) and Prof Riekie Wandrag (Professor: University of the Western Cape).

The prize for best oralist was awarded to Mr Ricardo Pillay from Rhodes University, and the prize for the best memorial was shared between Midlands State University (Zimbabwe) and the University of Fort Hare (South Africa).

The Annual African Trade Moot Competition is a project that aspires to cultivate a keen interest in trade-related topics amongst undergraduate students, as well as to inspire students to participate in the further development of the continent.

Winners:

  • Ms Sally Hurt (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Ms Claire Ingram (University of Cape Town, South Africa)

Runners-up:

  • Ms Rhulani Nkomo (Rhodes University, South Africa)
  • Mr Ricardo Pillay (Rhodes University, South Africa)

Best Oralist:

  • Mr Ricardo Pillay (Rhodes University, South Africa)

Best Memorials:

  • Ms Rumidzai Mushonga and Mr Tawanda Zvobgo (Midlands State University, Zimbabwe)
  • Mr Clarence Siziba and Ms Precious Mudungwe (University of Fort Hare, South Africa)

Photos:

8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011            8th African Trade Moot    ::3 - 7 October 2011

Maternal Health in South Africa: Delivering Women’s Human Rights

You are cordially invited to a panel discussion on Maternal Health in South Africa.

Date: 19 October 2011
Time: 10:30 - 12:30 (with a light lunch to follow)
Venue: University of Pretoria, Faculty of Law, Room 1-45
(first floor, Law Building and follow signs



Panelists:

  • Dr Eddie Mhlanga
    Chief Director, Maternal and Women's Health
    National Department of Health
  • Ms Meisie Lerutla
    Sexual and Reproductive Health Specialist
    United Nations Population Fund
  • Ms Karen Clark
    Midwife
    Birthworks Busfare Babies Birth Centre

RSVP to Karen Stefiszyn before 14 October 2011 by sending an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Centre for Human Rights now a member of AHRI (Association of Human Rights Institutes)

The Centre for Human Rights was admitted as a member of the Association of Human Rights Institutes (AHRI) at the last meeting of its Executive Committee in Venice, Italy, on 21 September 2011.

The AHRI network consists of 32 member institutions that carry out research and education in the field of human rights. Its primary objective is to promote research, education and discussion in the field of human rights. For more information on AHRI, its activities and members, please visit http://www.ahri-network.org



Centre presents first course on rights of indigenous people in Africa

Amidst increasing awareness about the particular needs and the precarious position of many indigenous peoples in Africa, the Centre for Human Rights this week for the first time presents a week-long training course on the rights of indigenous peoples in Africa to government officials, members of civil society, representatives of indigenous communities and academics from across Africa. It is the first course of this kind presented by an academic institution in Africa.



The one-week course is the product of a collaboration between the Centre for Human Rights, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (specifically its Working Group on Indigenous Populations).

Participants from all across Africa attend the course, with South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, the DRC, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana represented. Experienced lecturers from the ILO, representatives of indigenous communities, civil society organisations and universities across the continent teach on the course.

This course is a first of its kind and is expected to be held on a regular basis with the view to creating greater awareness and informed policy-making and legislative action on indigenous peoples’ issues in African states. It follows upon research conducted by the Centre, the ILO and the African Commission on the legal situation of indigenous peoples in 24 African countries. This research is available on the Centre’s website at http://www.chr.up.ac.za/index.php/indigenous-publications.html

The International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) also supported the endeavour by providing scholarships for participants.

Indigenous Peoples'  Rights Course  ::12 - 16 September 2011         Indigenous Peoples'  Rights Course  ::12 - 16 September 2011         Indigenous Peoples'  Rights Course  ::12 - 16 September 2011         Indigenous Peoples'  Rights Course  ::12 - 16 September 2011         Indigenous Peoples'  Rights Course  ::12 - 16 September 2011         Indigenous Peoples'  Rights Course  ::12 - 16 September 2011         Indigenous Peoples'  Rights Course  ::12 - 16 September 2011         Indigenous Peoples'  Rights Course  ::12 - 16 September 2011


Civil society organisations endorse the Pretoria Statement on the strengthening and reform of the UN human rights treaty body system

The following civil society organisations support the Pretoria Statement on the strengthening and reform of the UN human rights treaty body system.



Organisations endorsing the Pretoria Statement:

  • Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)
  • Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM)
  • Corporación Humanas - Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos y Justicia de Género
  • Mental Disability Advocacy Center
  • South African NGO Coalition 
  • Sonke Gender Justice Network – A coalition of NGOs with the following members  
    • Adult Learning Forum (ALF) 
    • Cape Metro health Forum (CMHF) 
    • Communities For Social Change (CSC) 
    • The Children’s Rights Movement 
    • South African Older Person's Forum (SAOPF) 
    • South African Youth Council (SAYC)
    • Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) 
    • Western Cape Network on Disability (WCND 
    • Community Connections
    • Volunteer Centre
    • The Advice Offices 
    • Rural Development Network
    • The Women’s Circle 
  • Child and Youth Care and Development 
  • South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Forum-SSHRDF
  • Community Empowerment for Progress Organization-CEPO
  • Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Forum
  • Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR)
  • Open Society Justice Initiative
  • People's Health Movement South Africa (PHM SA)
  • People's Health Movement Global 
  • Kenya Human Rights Commission
  • Conectas Direitos Humanos 
  • Atlas Council 
  • Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN)
  • International Disability Alliance
  • International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)
  • International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
  • Alkarama

Flemish Minister-President visits the Centre for Human Rights

On Monday 22 August 2011 and at the request of the Flemish Government, the Centre for Human Rights was privileged to host HE Mr Kris Peeters, Minister-President of Flanders as part of his official visit to South Africa. Mr Peeters was accompanied by the Representative of the Flemish Government in Southern Africa, Mr David Maenaut, and HE Ambassador Johan Maricou of the Belgian Embassy in Pretoria.



As the leading institution for human rights education in Africa, Minister-President Peeters said he was keen to visit the Centre for Human Rights to learn more about our work and to discuss the possibilities of collaboration and cooperation with Flemish universities. The visit consisted of a short working session around the Centre's round table, which included a mutual presentation of staff members and an introduction to the Centre's leading programmes by the respective programme managers.

After an exchange of gifts and a commemorative photograph, the Minister-President and his party were treated to a cocktail lunch in the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (IICLA) at which Prof Anthony Melck, Executive Director of the University of Pretoria and representative of the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, officially welcomed Mr Peeters to the campus. Mr Peeters also enjoyed speaking with Prof Christof Heyns (formerly Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Dean of the Faculty of Law) in his capacity as United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Co-Director of IICLA. In attendance were past and current Deans and the previous Ambassador of Belgium.

The Centre for Human Rights is proud to have hosted Minister-President Peeters; we are grateful for the Flemish Government's support to our programmes which we trust will contribute to strengthening the links between the University of Pretoria and the Flemish universities of Antwerp and Ghent and, ultimately, between South Africa and Flanders.

Hansungule demands delay of election

Professor Michelo Hansungule has demanded that President Rupiah Banda postpones the elections to allow for serious investigation into the corruption surrounding UPG.
And Prof Hansungule says the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has discredited itself by harassing sources of information.

Commenting on the continued corruption revelations surrounding Universal Print Group (UPG), a South African company engaged to print ballot papers for this year's general election, the Pretoria University law lecturer said government should not bury its head in the sand and behave as though everything were normal.



Southern Africa Consultation on the Democracy Charter & the  Draft Model Law for AU Member States on Access to Information, 27 to 29 June 2011, Maputo, Mozambique

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa and the Centre for Human Rights, Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo, Mozambique, in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, held a Southern Africa consultation on the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and the Draft Model Law for AU Member States on Access to Information from 28 to 29 June, in Maputo, Mozambique.



Representatives of Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs, Parliament, Election Management Bodies, National Human Rights Institutions and Civil Society from Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, participated in the consultation.

The first day of the consultation was dedicated to sharing experiences on the progress and challenges encountered in the ratification of the Democracy Charter in represented Member States. Subsequently, country specific Plans of Action were adopted, to facilitate increased ratification of the Democracy Charter, as a means of expediting its coming into force.   

Thereafter, a consultation was held on the Draft Model Law on Access to Information, which has been developed pursuant to Resolution 167 (XLVIII) 2010 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), authorising the Special Rapporteur to initiate the process of developing a model access to information legislation for Africa.

Presentations on the content of the working draft of the Model law were made by some members of the Model Law Working Group which developed the present draft, followed by extensive discussions by participants in the form of comments, questions and suggested improvements.

The feedback received from this consultation, together with those received at further subregional public consultations, will guide and inform any necessary amendments to the working draft of the Model Law. The next consultation, which is for Eastern Africa, is scheduled to hold from 29 to 31 August 2011 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Once finalised, it is expected that the Model Law will be adopted by the ACHPR at its 51st Ordinary Session in April 2011, to guide Member States in their adoption or review of access to information laws, and provide uniform benchmarks for evaluating their effective implementation.

Financial support for the project is provided by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and Open Society Foundations, Rights Initiatives - Right to Information Fund.

Photos:

Consultation on the Democracy Charter & the  Draft Model Law  on Access to Information :: 27 to 29 June 2011, Maputo, Mozambique       Consultation on the Democracy Charter & the  Draft Model Law  on Access to Information :: 27 to 29 June 2011, Maputo, Mozambique       Consultation on the Democracy Charter & the  Draft Model Law  on Access to Information :: 27 to 29 June 2011, Maputo, Mozambique       Consultation on the Democracy Charter & the  Draft Model Law  on Access to Information :: 27 to 29 June 2011, Maputo, Mozambique       Consultation on the Democracy Charter & the  Draft Model Law  on Access to Information :: 27 to 29 June 2011, Maputo, Mozambique       Consultation on the Democracy Charter & the  Draft Model Law  on Access to Information :: 27 to 29 June 2011, Maputo, Mozambique       Consultation on the Democracy Charter & the  Draft Model Law  on Access to Information :: 27 to 29 June 2011, Maputo, Mozambique       Consultation on the Democracy Charter & the  Draft Model Law  on Access to Information :: 27 to 29 June 2011, Maputo, Mozambique       Consultation on the Democracy Charter & the  Draft Model Law  on Access to Information :: 27 to 29 June 2011, Maputo, Mozambique       Consultation on the Democracy Charter & the  Draft Model Law  on Access to Information :: 27 to 29 June 2011, Maputo, Mozambique       Consultation on the Democracy Charter & the  Draft Model Law  on Access to Information :: 27 to 29 June 2011, Maputo, Mozambique       Consultation on the Democracy Charter & the  Draft Model Law  on Access to Information :: 27 to 29 June 2011, Maputo, Mozambique

Call on civil society organisations to endorse the Pretoria Statement on the strengthening and reform of the UN human rights treaty body system

The participants of the Civil society consultation on strengthening the UN treaty body system hosted by the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, 20 and 21 June 2011 call on all civil society organisations to endorse the Pretoria Statement on the strengthening and reform of the UN human rights treaty body system.



 The consultation and the statement adopted form part the response of civil society to the call by the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navanethem Pillay, to all stakeholders including civil society to make contributions towards making the treaty body system more coherent, coordinated and effective. The statement co-drfted and adopted by organisations that participated in the consultation complements and builds on previous statements adopted at different times in 2010 and 2011 by civil society groupings after consultations. All civil society organisations are called upon to make their contribution in the ongoing reflections from civil society on proposals to reform the treaty body system by subscribing to and endorsing this statement.

The statement has been posted on the webpage of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights dedicated to the treaty body strengthening process  for the purposes of endorsement. Civil society organisations are invited to send their endorsement with the details of the contact person in their organisation preferably before 15 August 2011 to:

Melhik Abebe Bekele (Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria )
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Prof Danny Bradlow discusses the impact of US debt on emerging markets

The US hit its $14 trillion debt ceiling as early as May. If it is not to be raised by 2nd August, the country will face a potential default on its debt, threatening military salaries and social security payments.

Professor Danny Bradlow, SARCHI Professor of International Development Law and African Economic Relations at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria discussed the impact of this debt on emerging markets on Beyond Markets.



Pretoria, Botswana and Cocody emerge as winners of the 20th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition

The combined team from the University of Pretoria, the University of Botswana and Université de Cocody (Côte d’Ivoire) emerged as the winner at the 20th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition final in Pretoria yesterday.

The final of the Competition was held at the Conference Hall of the SA Reserve Bank in Pretoria. It was adjudicated by five members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including the Chairperson, Advocate Reine Alapini Gansou, the Deputy Chairperson Mr. Mumba Malila, as well as South Africa’s Advocate Pansy Tlakula, who is also the Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression.



The Moot Court is an annual mock trial competition between African law faculties, organised by the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights. It is the largest annual gathering of law students and lecturers on the continent. Fifty-three university teams from twenty-two African countries were in Pretoria for this year’s competition.

The hypothetical cases argued involve burning contemporary human rights issues affecting African countries. This year, participants argued whether a hypothetical African government, Dosmoon, has contravened the African Charter or other international laws by relocating an indigenous group from the land which they traditionally occupied, and granting a coltan exploitation license over that land to a mining company that is co-owned by the government. The case was brought before the African Court by a hypothetical civil society organisation, Environment For Life (EFL).

Speaking after the Final Round, Advocate Gansou lauded the participants for their mastery of human rights issues and their fearless submissions before the judges.

“My hope is that you will go on to become top human rights advocates and give a voice to the African Charter and other African human rights instruments. Being a human rights advocate is not about creating wealth, but about defending the voiceless, and listening to you today, I have no doubt about your passion and your aptitude to do just that,” she said.

This year’s Moot coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Centre for Human Rights and the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the African Charter.

Six teams qualified for the finals, two of them French-speaking. The University of Ghana, Moi University (Kenya) and Unversité Gaston-Berger de Saint-Louis (Senegal) argued for the applicant, while the Universities of Pretoria and Botswana were joined by Université de Cocody (Côte d’Ivoire), to argue for the respondent.

“The Moot aims to expose a new generation of lawyers to the tangible benefits of peacefully conflict through judicial means,” said Frans Viljoen, Director of the Centre for Human Rights.

“As you enjoy the privilege of the anniversary competition I challenge you, as future African human rights professionals, to become bearers of ubuntu – the essence of being human - as Africa’s gift to the world.,” Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said in a special letter addressed to the particpants.

The Moot Court was organised by the Centre for Human Rights, in collaboration with the African Commission, and with the financial and material support of the European Union, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the University of South Africa, Juta Law Publishers, and the University of Pretoria.

Photos:

20th African Human     Rights  Moot Court Competttion :: 12 July 2011 - Day 6      20th African Human     Rights  Moot Court Competttion :: 12 July 2011 - Day 6      20th African Human     Rights  Moot Court Competttion :: 12 July 2011 - Day 6      20th African Human     Rights  Moot Court Competttion :: 12 July 2011 - Day 6      20th African Human     Rights  Moot Court Competttion :: 12 July 2011 - Day 6      20th African Human     Rights  Moot Court Competttion :: 12 July 2011 - Day 6      20th African Human     Rights  Moot Court Competttion :: 12 July 2011 - Day 6      20th African Human     Rights  Moot Court Competttion :: 12 July 2011 - Day 6      20th African Human     Rights  Moot Court Competttion :: 12 July 2011 - Day 6      20th African Human     Rights  Moot Court Competttion :: 12 July 2011 - Day 6      20th African Human     Rights  Moot Court Competttion :: 12 July 2011 - Day 6      20th African Human     Rights  Moot Court Competttion :: 12 July 2011 - Day 6      20th African Human     Rights  Moot Court Competttion :: 12 July 2011 - 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20th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition, held at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and what has Africa got to show for it? This is a question that will be addressed by Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf of the International Court of Justice and Advocate Reine Alapini Gansou, Chairperson of the African Commission, at the 20th African Moot Court Competition and Conference from 7 - 12 July 2011 in Pretoria.

They will be joined by various experts and 4 other members of the African Commission, including South Africa’s Advocate Pansy Tlakula, who is also the Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression.



On Monday 11 July, these experts will speak at a conference at the University of Pretoria on the subject: “30 Years of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights: Looking Forward While Looking Back.”

The African Commission is the arm of the African Union with oversight of the African Charter, and they will assess its achievements, while looking ahead to some of the challenges. This is an important subject, in view of the crises and conflicts that continue to plague the continent. South Africa is a state party to the African Charter, and despite its important role in the African Union, not much has been done by the government or the media to raise wider awareness about the Charter and the country’s responsibilities. On Tuesday 12 July, the judges will adjudicate the final of the Moot Court Competition at the Conference Centre of the Reserve Bank of South Africa in Pretoria. The Moot Court is an annual mock trial competition between African law faculties, organised by the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights. It is the biggest annual gathering of law students and lecturers on the continent.

Sixty African universities are expected to converge at the University of Pretoria this year to argue a hypothetical human rights case before a bench of experts. Six of the best teams will qualify for the final to be adjudicated by these eminent judges. The cases involve burning contemporary human rights issues affecting African countries. This year, participants will argue whether a hypothetical African government has contravened the African Charter or other international law by relocating an indigenous group from the land which they traditionally occupied, and granting a coltan exploitation license over that land to a mining company that is government co-owned.

“One could hardly think of a better way to advance the cause of human rights than to bring together students...chief justices and professors to debate some of the crucial issues of our time in the exciting and challenging atmosphere of the courtroom,” said ex-president Nelson Mandela at the Moot Competition in 1995.

“This year’s Moot is of added significance, as it coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Centre for Human Rights and the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the African Charter,” says Professor Frans Viljoen, Director of the Centre for Human Rights. This is the first time that the African Union, through the Commission, is partnering on this scale with a civil society organisation to address human rights challenges through such a wide-ranging educational project. It is a testament of the importance of the Moot Competition in grooming young legal practitioners who are able to offer African solutions to African problems. “The Moot aims to expose a new generation of lawyers to the tangible benefits of peacefully conflict through judicial means,” adds Viljoen. In 2006, the Centre for Human Rights became the only Sub-Saharan organisation to win the UNESCO prize for Human Rights for Education, when it was recognised for the success of the Moot Competition and Conference, and its Master’s in Human Rights Law programme.

30 years of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights: Looking forward while looking back

To celebrate 30 years since the adoption of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights in 1981, the Centre for Human Rights is organising a one-day conference '30 years of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights: Looking forward while looking back' on Monday 11 July, 8.30-17.00, at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria.

The conference, which is held in connection with the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition, brings together experts on the African human rights system from across the world.



Everyone is welcome to attend the conference which is free and does not require any registration.

Download the Conference Programme

Centre and HRDI launches new LLM focusing on HIV and international law

The Centre for Human Rights, in collaboration with Human Rights Development Initiative, launched the world's first LLM programme focusing on HIV and international law.

Eighteen students from Southern, East Africa and the Great Lakes Region, are registered for this programme. The students, who are all from law clinics at Universities in the region, will spend six months at UP, after which they return to their home universities where they will do practical work and write their dissertations.




Tribute to Prof Kader Asmal

The Centre expresses its sadness and sense of loss over the death of Professor Kader Asmal, who was a long-serving member of the Centre’s Advisory Board.  The Centre was privileged to have benefited from his inspirational and wise counsel, his courageous example, and his stimulating teaching.

Although we will miss him and what he stood for, he leaves us all richer from our association with him.


Pretoria Civil Society Consultation on UN Human Rights Treaty Reform hosted by the Centre for Human Rights

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, together with the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa, hosted a consultation of civil society organisations from around the world, to reflect on the strengthening of the UN human rights treaty bodies.



The Consultation, which took place at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, on 20 and 21 June 2011, is part of a process to improve the working methods of the treaty bodies. In recent times, the number of treaty bodies, the number of reports required by state parties, and the activities of the treaty bodies have increased dramatically. There is consensus that the situation has become intolerable and that reform is needed. Consultations have now been held among treaty body members, national human rights institutions, treaty body chairpersons and international NGOs.

The Pretoria Consultation is the latest round of consultations, focussing on “grassroots” NGOs/civil society from across the globe. All these efforts will culminate in a final consultation and wrap-up meeting in Dublin, scheduled for November 2011.

The Consultation was attended, as observers, by the Director of the Treaties Division, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Geneva, and Zonke Majodina, a South African who chairs the UN Human Rights Committee (the monitoring body of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR)). Representatives of NGOs based in Argentina, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Australia were represented at the consultation.

At the closing of the meeting, the participants adopted the Pretoria Statement on the Strengthening and Reform of the UN Human Rights Treaty Body System. The final draft of this statement is being reviewed, and will be finalised within the next three weeks.

For further information please contact Frans Viljoen on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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UN Human Rights Treaty Reform - Pretoria Civil Society Consultation  :: 20 - 21 June  2011 UN Human Rights Treaty Reform - Pretoria Civil Society Consultation  :: 20 - 21 June  2011 UN Human Rights Treaty Reform - Pretoria Civil Society Consultation  :: 20 - 21 June  2011 UN Human Rights Treaty Reform - Pretoria Civil Society Consultation  :: 20 - 21 June  2011

Expert Workshop: Giving effect to the law on genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Southern Africa

13 - 14 June 2011, Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

Government experts and academics from Southern Africa and around the world participated in a successful workshop on giving effect to the law on genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.



The workshop, held on 13 and 14 June 2011 at the Centre for Human Rights, was attended by experts from the Attorneys-General’s Chambers and national prosecution authorities in the SADC region, particularly from Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In addition, an expert from the International Criminal Court participated in the workshop.

Participants discussed crucial issues relevant to prosecution of international crimes in the sub-region. Such issues included international, regional and sub-regionallegal frameworks on prosecution of international crimes, national laws implementing international treaties such as the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols, the Genocide Convention, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and other treaties. Also, participants discussed the ratification of international treaties proscribing international crimes, implementation and domestication of such treaties at national level, the issue of complementarity as found in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, extradition, universal jurisdiction, the duty to prosecute perpetrators of international crimes and, establishment of national implementing committees of international humanitarian law.

Participants engaged in discussions on the challenges and achievements in prosecuting international crimes, and implementation of international treaties in their respective countries. It was observed that the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been able to prosecute individuals for international crimes, particularly war crimes and crimes against humanity. Such prosecutions were before Military Tribunals. Amongst the challenges faced by countries in ratifying or implementing international treaties include the nature of legal systems in the countries (dualism and monism), lack of experts, capacity and resources, the priorities in ratifying and domesticating treaties, lack of awareness campaigns by civil societies and lack of sufficient trainings on international criminal justice and international humanitarian law in the universities and armed forces in the sub-region. Participants agreed to work together and encourage their governments to cooperate in extradition, surrender and detection or transfer of suspects of international crimes in the sub-region to face prosecutions before courts. There was also consensus about the need for states to ratify and implement or domesticate international treaties prohibiting international crimes so that national authorities, including the judicial institutions can be able to proceed against perpetrators of international crimes.

The workshop was organised by the Centre for Human Rights (CHR), International Criminal Law Services (ICLS) and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), with the generous support of the Governments of Finland, Germany, and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.

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Expert workshop on genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes :: 13 - 14 June  2011 Expert workshop on genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes :: 13 - 14 June  2011 Expert workshop on genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes :: 13 - 14 June  2011 Expert workshop on genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes :: 13 - 14 June  2011

Conference on Multi- and Inter-Disciplinary Human Rights in Africa

On 2 - 3 June 2001 the Centre for Human Rights hosted a two-day conference on Multi- and Inter-Disciplinary Human Rights in Africa, organised and co-chaired by Centre Director, Professor Frans Viljoen, and Visiting Fulbright Scholar, Professor Richard Maiman. The purpose of the conference was to showcase scholarship on human rights using perspectives other than the dominant legal paradigm.



The keynote address was given by Professor Michael Freeman, a distinguished human rights scholar affiliated with the Department of Government at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom. Professor Freeman is the author of the pathbreaking book, Human Rights: An Interdisciplinary Approach, which recently was published in a revised second edition by Polity Press. Twenty-two scholars from Africa, Canada, and Europe presented papers that drew on a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives, including political science, sociology, history, anthropology, literature, education, film studies, and musicology. According to Professor Maiman, “The conference was successful in demonstrating many of the ways in which traditional legal analysis of human rights issues can be complemented and extended through the use of multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches. Judging by the enthusiasm of the participants, it provided an effective forum for presenting and exchanging ideas. We hope and expect that it will stimulate more of the high quality work that was represented in the papers.”

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Conference on  Multi- and Inter-Disciplinary Human Rights in Africa :: 2 - 3 June  2011 Conference on  Multi- and Inter-Disciplinary Human Rights in Africa :: 2 - 3 June  2011 Conference on  Multi- and Inter-Disciplinary Human Rights in Africa :: 2 - 3 June  2011 Conference on  Multi- and Inter-Disciplinary Human Rights in Africa :: 2 - 3 June  2011

African Union and South Africa should prioritise Great Lakes region as ‘new front’

The Centre for Human Rights and the Department of Political Sciences held a public lecture on the 1st of June 2011 which was presented by the European Union (EU) Ambassador Mr Roeland van de Geer. His lecture was titled ‘Is Peace possible in the Great Lakes Region?’ The evening formed part of a project which focuses on South Africa’s human rights and foreign policy which is funded by the Open Society Foundation of South Africa.



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Ambassador van de Geer, the current EU Ambassador in South Africa, is a very knowledgeable person on the situation in the Great Lakes area, as he served as the EU Special Representative for the Great Lakes region between 2007 and the start of 2011.  In addressing the question “Is peace possible in the Great Lakes region?’, Ambassador van de Geer briefly sketched the background to the conflict in the area. He emphasised three aspects: (i) The 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and its ‘spill-over’ effect into the eastern DRC,  provided a racialisedor ethnic basis to the conflict. (ii) This basis was overladen and exacerbated by the extraction of minerals in the DRC, which provides a material source that keeps fuelling the conflict. (iii) The complexity of the conflict is related to the fact that the DRC shares its border with no fewer than nine states.

In its efforts to address the conflict and its root causes, the international community has engaged with military groups and governments in a series of ‘peace processes’. In the North, the ‘Juba process’, involving the Lord’s Resistance Army, showed some promise but was eventually not formalised into a final agreement.  In the Central region, the ‘Goma process’ sought to engage with the Rwandese government, and was partially successful. In the South, the ‘Burundi process’ was well on its way, before it was, to some extent, derailed by the 2010 elections.

The speaker identified the three main issues affecting the prospects for peace in the eastern DRC:

  • The integration of militias into the existing formal armies, amongst others, in order to reduce uncontrolled sexual violence against women and girls in the region.
  • The illegal exploitation of resources, which keep the militias afloat.
  • The Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), its leadership and its role in the region.

In conclusion, Ambassador van de Geer contended that there is relative peace in the region, but added that there is much potential for the region to erupt into conflict, in particular because there is a failure to address the root causes of the conflict. As for future international responses, he pleaded for a more active role for the African Union to ‘pull together’ efforts by sub-regional bodies.  He also emphasised that South Africa should prioritise the situation in the Great Lakes area, despite all the claims on its foreign policy priorities and its limited military capacity.

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Roeland van de Geer (EU Ambassador) Public Lecture :: 1 June 2011 Roeland van de Geer (EU Ambassador) Public Lecture :: 1 June 2011 Roeland van de Geer (EU Ambassador) Public Lecture :: 1 June 2011 Roeland van de Geer (EU Ambassador) Public Lecture :: 1 June 2011

Roeland van de Geer (EU Ambassador) Public Lecture :: 1  June 2011 Roeland van de Geer (EU Ambassador) Public Lecture :: 1 June  2011 Roeland van de Geer (EU Ambassador) Public Lecture :: 1 June  2011 Roeland van de Geer (EU Ambassador) Public Lecture :: 1 June  2011

Roeland van de Geer (EU Ambassador) Public Lecture :: 1  June 2011 Roeland van de Geer (EU Ambassador) Public Lecture :: 1 June  2011 Roeland van de Geer (EU Ambassador) Public Lecture :: 1 June  2011 Roeland van de Geer (EU Ambassador) Public Lecture :: 1 June  2011

'Was the killing of Osama bin Laden legal?'

A panel discussion organised by the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and the Centre for Human Rights of the Faculty of Law.

Date: Friday, 27 May 2011
Time: 13:30 to 15:00
Venue: Moot Court, Law Building



When United States forces killed Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions and Counterterrorism, Christof Heyns and Martin Scheinin, issued a statement asking the US government to provide clarity on the facts to allow an assessment of the legality of the operation (available at: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=10987&LangID=E).

US State Department Legal Advisor, Harold Koh, subsequently commented on the legality of the killing (available at:
http://opiniojuris.org/2011/05/19/the-lawfulness-of-the-us-operation-against-osama-bin-laden/).

You are cordially invited to a panel discussion on the topic by:
Prof Christof Heyns, Prof Johan van der Vyver and Mr Gus Waschefort and LLM (Human Rights and Democratisation) students Mr Johannes Buabeng-Baidoo, Mr Amar Mehadew and Ms Ella Scheepers. 

Election Observer Team Report

The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa deployed an Election Observer Team to observe the South African Local Government Elections (LGE), which were held on the 18 May 2011.This is the Team’s assessment of the municipal elections.

The assessment covers the election period from voting, including counting and excluding the transmission of results. The Team comprised Mr. Mxolisi Makinana, Mr. Eric Lwanga representatives of the CHR staff and Mr. Jacob Ssali an LLB final year student at the faculty of Law, University of Pretoria.



Members of the Team observed events in Muckleneuk (Temporary Voting Station,  Muckleneuk Park, Walker Street), Lynwood Ridge (Temporary Voting Station Park, cnr Cedar and Beech Street), Murrayfield (Laerskool Skuilkrans), Eesterust (Norridge Park Primary School and Temporary Voting Station, Labour and Peggy Barnes) Mamelodi (F.F. Ribeiro Primary School; Temporary Voting Station, Storeroom Hostel No. 4; Balebogeng Primary School; Refentse Primary School) and Soshavungu (Lesedi Primary School and Love World International Church) around Pretoria, South Africa on 18 May 2011. The Team’s assessment of the South African 2011 LGE was based on the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation in the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). This report gives the main findings of the Team and makes recommendations to relevant election stakeholders for future elections. The report will be shared with the IEC, political parties that contested the elections and civil society organisations in South Africa as well as with government authorities, election management bodies and civil society organisations across the region, so that lessons can be drawn.

Introductory Consultation on the Draft Model Law for AU Member States on Access to Information, 29 April, Banjul, The Gambia

The Centre for Human Rights, in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, held a public consultation on the Draft Model Law for AU Member States on Access to Information in Africa on 29 April 2011, during the 49th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) in Banjul, The Gambia.

The aim of the consultation was to introduce the Draft Model Law, developed pursuant to Resolution 167 (XLVIII) 2010 of the ACHPR, authorising the Special Rapporteur to initiate the process of developing a model access to information legislation for Africa.



The feedback received from this consultation, together with those received at further subregional public consultations, will guide and inform any necessary amendments to the present draft.

Once finalised, it is expected that the Model Law will be adopted by the ACHPR at its 50th Ordinary Session in October 2011, to guide Member States in their adoption or review of access to information laws, and provide uniform benchmarks for evaluating their effective implementation.

Financial support for the project is provided by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and Open Society Foundations, Rights Initiatives - Right to Information Fund.

Draft Model Law for AU Member States on Access to Information in Africa

Dowload the Draft Model Law (English)
Dowload the Draft Model Law (French)
Download the Draft Model Law (Portuguese)

Request for comments



Reviewing the G20's Development and Financial Inclusion Agendas

You are cordially invited to a G20 Study Group Meeting, organised by the South African Institute of International Affairs; the International Development Law Unit in the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria; and
Oxfam.

Date: 16 May, 2011
Time: 09:30 - 15:30
Venue: SRC Chamber, UP Conference Centre



To facilitate a frank dialogue, this workshop will take place under the Chatham House Rule, a morally binding convention which allows all or part of a meeting to be held ‘off the record’. In addition ‘Information gleaned under the Chatham House Rule may be reported [if so agreed], but the identity or affiliations of speakers must not be disclosed.’

Centre for Human Rights celebrates its 25th anniversary

On Saturday 7 May 2011, the Centre for Human Rights Commemorated its 25th anniversary in an informal lunch for current and former staff members and their families at the Pretoria Country Club.It was a fabulously festive event with over 150 guests including staff, board members, friends and institutional supporters of the Centre from all over South Africa.



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There were very few speeches, with only the three directors speaking informally in the order in which they served at the Centre. Prof Johann van der Westhuizen (1986 – 1998), now Justice of the South African Constitutional Court, spoke of the climate of fear and oppression in which the Centre was established in 1986 and reminisced on the courage and daring of those Faculty members who took the bold step to contemplate a Bill of Rights for South Africa. Prof Christof Heyns (1998 – 2006), now UN Special Rapporteur for Extra-Judicial Killings, spoke of the twin values of excellence and Ubuntu, which have ensured that the Centre’s programs have remained both cutting-edge and focused on improving the lives of people everywhere. Prof Frans Viljoen (2006 – present) spoke of the staff, past and present: of their vision and dedication however big or small their project, however long or short their stay.

As the longest serving member of staff, Isabeau de Meyer, who was officially the Centre’s first employee and who is still at the Centre, was singled out for particular recognition. Although no single project has lasted 25 years, the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition remains the quintessential pan-African human rights educational initiative, bearing the hallmarks of innovation and international recognition. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary celebrations, the Moot provided copious anecdotes, which provoked memories and drew laughter from everyone present.

There was a wonderful atmosphere, with children running around, and a spectacular commemorative cake. It would be fair to say that everyone present was delighted to return to a place where they all have roots and to see that it remains a place where dreams continue to be born and where young people still find challenge and opportunity. There was a clear sense that all those who have walked through the Centre’s doors have added colour to thetapestry that is our collective history. Today, it is symbolised in the butterfly logo that has become the Centre’s standard, a mark of quality that is recognised and respected across our nation and our continent and beyond.

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25th Anniversary :: 7 May 2011 25th Anniversary :: 7 May 2011 25th Anniversary :: 7 May 2011 25th Anniversary :: 7 May 2011

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25th Anniversary :: 7 May 2011 25th Anniversary :: 7 May 2011 25th Anniversary :: 7 May 2011 25th Anniversary :: 7 May 2011

Invitation to the Inaugural Address of Prof Frans Viljoen, Director and Professor at the Centre for Human Rights

Date: 11 May 2011
Time: 18:30 for 19:00
Venue: Senate Hall, University of Pretoria

Please RSVP before 4 May 2011 to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



Topic of Inaugural Address:
Contemporary challenges to human rights and the role of human rights education

‘Human rights’ has been proclaimed as the ‘idea of our time’. Two of the landmarks in its steady progress have been the 50-year celebration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 2008, and the 30-year commemoration of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights this year. These events occasion introspection and reflections on the future of human rights. How well do human rights institutions and the human rights discourse stand up against the challenges of the early 21st century? These challenges include claims to state sovereignty in the face of international condemnation, as exemplified by the recent events in Libya; religious fundamentalism; the legalization of politics; and the empirically-based questioning the ‘actual difference’ particularly international human rights has made. These challenges are considered, and the role of human rights education in addressing them is explored.

Invitation to a seminar: Do normative frameworks 'save us from hell'? - Dealing with crimes against humanity

Speakers:

  • Dr Henning Melber, Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, Uppsala
  • Prof Johan van der Vyver, Extra-ordinary Professor, UP
  • Prof Erika de Wet, Co-Director, Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa
  • Dr Bjorn Moller, Danish Institute of International Studies, Copenhagen


The discussion will be chaired by Prof Michelo Hansungule, UP Centre for Human Rights. It takes as its starting point the words of Dag Hammarskjold: the United Nations was not createdin order to bring us to heaven, but in order to save us from hell.

On this occasion the March 2011 edition of the journal, Development Dialogue, dealing with the broad theme of crimes against humanity, will be launched.

Date and time: 5 April 2011, 17.00-18.30
Venue: Moot Court, Law Building
RSVP on or before 4 April: Ms Wilma Martin, 012 420 2034 / This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

This event forms part of a project sponsored by the Open Society Foundation of SA and dealing with South Africa’s second term on the UN Security Council and is sponsored by the Open Society Foundation of SA

Invitation to a seminar on Victim Empowerment through the use of DNA Forensics

Organised by inqaba biotec and Bode Technology
Hosted by the Centre of Human Rights, University of
Pretoria

Date: Wednesday 23 March 2011
Time: 13:00–16:00 started by a light finger lunch at 12:30 and with a coffee break
Venue: SRC Chamber, Conference Centre,  main campus of University of Pretoria (across from Law Faculty)

Please RSVP by Friday 18 March with Ms Carole Viljoen at 012 420 38 10 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it




Celebrating 25 years of human rights education

The Centre was established in the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, in 1986, as part of domestic efforts against the apartheid system of the time.

Members of the Centre participated in meetings with the liberation movements outside the borders of South Africa, organised conferences and participated in efforts to promote human rights in South Africa, and, when the transition came, served as technical advisors to both the interim and final constitution writing processes. 



To celebrate the last 25 years of human rights activism and education, a series of lectures and other activities will be presented by the Centre for Human Rights.

20th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition

The 20th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition will be held at the University of Pretoria, in South Africa from 7 to 12 July 2011. All law faculties in Africa are invited to attend.

This special edition of the Moot also commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Centre for Human Rights and the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Centre for Human Rights is pleased to present the 20th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition in partnership with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.


20e Concours Africain de Procès Simulé des Droits de l'Homme

Le 20e Concours Africain de Procès Simulé des Droits de l'Homme aura lieu à l'Université de Pretoria, en Afrique du Sud du 7 au 12 juillet 2011. Toutes les facultés de droit d’Afrique sont invitées à y participer.

Cette édition spéciale du Procès Simulé sera aussi marquée par la commémoration du 25e anniversaire du Centre for Human Rights et le 30e anniversaire de l’adoption de la Charte Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des peuples. Le Centre for Human Rights a le plaisir d’organiser le 20e Concours Africain de Procès Simulé des Droits de l’Homme en partenariat avec la Commission Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples.

Invitation: Seminar on Language Rights

You are cordially invited to a seminar on language rights, with a particular focus on the need for an act on the use of official languages in South Africa.

The presenters at the seminar will be Prof Fernand de Varennes, Murdoch University, Australia, Prof Theodorus du Plessis, University of the Free State, and a representative of the Pan South African Language Board.



DATE: Monday 14 February 2011
TIME: 12:30 - 14:00
VENUE: Moot Court, Room 1-51, Ground floor,  Law Building, University of Pretoria

BACKGROUND:
South Africa has eleven official languages: Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu. Article 6(4) of the Constitution provides that ‘[t]he national government and provincial governments, by legislative and other measures, must regulate and monitor their use of official languages ... all official languages must enjoy parity of esteem and must be treated equitably.’

To implement the constitutional provision a National Language Policy Framework was adopted in 2002 and the South African Languages Bill was published in the government gazette for comment by the public in May 2003. The cabinet later decided to withdraw the bill. On 16 March 2010 the Pretoria High Court delivered judgment in Lourens v President van die Republiek van Suid Afrika en  Andere. Judge Du Plessis ruled that the action taken by  government was insufficient and gave the Minister of  Arts and Culture two years to comply with article 6 of the Constitution.

Meeting of Working Group on Developing Model Legislation on the Right to Access to Information in Africa

The Centre for Human Rights held a Meeting of Working Group on Developing Model Legislation on the Right to Access to Information in Africa from the 19-21 January 2011. It was organised by the Centre for Human Rights in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expressio and Access to Information in Africa (Commissioner Adv. Pansy Tlakula) and the Open Society Justice Initiative.

It considered a draft model law and explanatory note prepared by a working group nominated during the previous workshop in October on the same agenda.

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