Constitution: Centre for Human Rights

(Faculty Board, Faculty of Law, 20 February 2023 Senate, University of Pretoria, 18 May 2023, S1828/23)


1.1       The vision of the Centre for Human Rights (“the Centre”) is a world in which everyone enjoys human rights and democratic governance.

1.2       The mission of the Centre is to work towards the realisation of human rights, particularly of the most vulnerable, with a focus on Africa, through innovative, cutting-edge and impactful teaching, training, research, capacity building, strategic litigation, advocacy and publication.

1.3       The Centre strives for ubuntu (humanity) and excellence in all its undertakings.


2.1       The Centre is guided by human rights, in particular the principle of non-discrimination, equality, human dignity, and respect for everyone. It adopts a human rights-based approach to all its activities.

2.2       We are bound by and uphold all University policies. In particular, we strongly disapprove of sexual harassment, misuse of authority, racism, homophobia, and other forms of intolerance. The Centre is committed to transformation and diversity in its programmes, projects, staff composition and internal functioning.

2.3       We act with compassion to ensure the inclusion and protection of those most vulnerable to human rights violations.

2.4       We aim to provide a non-judgmental and participatory convening space where intellectual freedom prospers. We fully subscribe to the principle of academic freedom.

2.5       We commit ourselves to act with integrity in all our endeavours, by acting with fairness to all.

2.6       We consider ourselves to be accountable to everyone involved in our work, our partners, our colleagues, the Faculty and the broader University. We uphold the principle of transparency.

2.7       We commit ourselves to act with excellence and professionalism, and be effective and efficient in our use of resources and our reporting to donors, in terms of specific grant agreements.

2.8       We strive to advance the spirit of ubuntu by cultivating acceptance of diversity and difference, and by working in solidarity with each other and our partners.

2.9       We endeavour to foster a critical pan-African identity.

2.10    We commit ourselves to invest in the future of Africa’s youth.


3.1       The Centre has a dual nature:

  1. It is an academic department within the Faculty of Law, and subject to all the academic prescripts and Regulations of the University.
  2. It is also a non-profit human rights institution housed by the University, with a specific focus on human rights-based research, education, capacity building, advocacy and publication. In this respect, the Centre carries out public benefit activities, in a non-profit manner and with an altruistic intent.

3.2       These two components are not separate from each other, but are inter-related and function in complementarity with each other in order to further enhance the principles of human rights in the University, domestically, regionally and globally.

3.3       The Centre will not use its resources directly or indirectly to support, advance or

oppose any political party.

3.4    The Centre reports annually to the Board of the Faculty of Law (Faculty Board) on its activities, income and expenditure.

3.5       The Centre reports annually to the Centre’s Advisory Board on the activities undertaken.


4.1       Board of the Faculty of Law

The Board of the Faculty of Law and the Senate of the University are the Centre’s highest decision-making bodies.

4.2       Advisory Board

The Centre has an Advisory Board, which provides strategic advice on sustainability and advocacy-related matters.

4.2.1   Composition

i.  The Advisory Board consists of:

  1. The Dean of the Faculty of Law (who also serves as Chairperson of the Board).
  2.  The Executive Committee of the Centre: the Director, Assistant Directors, Finance Manager, and the Office Manager.
  3. Two staff members of the Centre, elected by the other members of staff for a non-renewable period of four years.
  4. Five external members of the broader African human rights community, recognised for their experience and knowledge in the field of human rights, especially in Africa. 
    These members serve a four-year term, renewable once for another four years.

ii   The Executive Committee, after consultation with the full-time staff members of the Centre, proposes candidates for the five external positions referred to under point 4(i)(d) above, for approval by the Faculty Board.

iii   In the appointment of these five external members, the need for the Board to reflect the diversity of the African community, especially in respect of race and gender, must be taken into consideration.

iv   If any of the five external members of the Board fail to reasonably exercise their duties, they may be relieved of their duties by a formal resolution of the Faculty Board. of the Faculty of Law.

4.2.2   Quorum

  1. Seven members of the Board form a quorum, provided that at least three external members are present at the meeting.
  2. Decisions are taken by consensus, and if there is a dispute, by a majority vote.
  3. The Advisory Board meets at least once a year.

4.3       Executive Committee

4.3.1   Composition

The Executive Committee consists of the Director, Assistant Directors, Financial Manager, and the Office Manager.

4.3.2   Functions and competencies

  1. The Executive Committee ensures staff development, wherever possible.
  2. The Executive Committee coordinates the management of the projects of the Centre.
  3. The Executive Committee co-ordinates fund raising.
  4. The Executive Committee meets at least once a month. It takes its decisions by consensus, and if there is a dispute, by a majority vote.

4.4       Managers’ Meetings

4.4.1   The Managers of Units, projects, and academic programmes meet at least four times a year.  These meetings are convened by the Director. Additional meetings will be convened at the request of at least three Managers. 

4.4.2   The meeting serves as a forum to discuss aspects related to the operations of the Centre. The meeting makes recommendations to the Director or Executive Committee.


5.1       Office-bearers

5.1.1   Director

  1. The Director is responsible for the management and financial control of the Centre.
  2. The Director is the academic and administrative head of the Centre, overseeing all of the academic aspects of its projects and activities.
  3. The Director holds the position of head of department, and represents the Centre in the Faculty and University’s management and academic structures.

5.1.2   Assistant Directors

  1. The two Assistant Directors’ portfolios are: ‘Programmes’ and ‘Operations’ and they oversee the administrative and financial aspects of all programmes, projects and activities of the Centre, in collaboration with the Director.
  2. The Assistant Directors are responsible for any duty or function delegated to them by the Director, in accordance with the prescripts of the University.
  3. The Director designates an Assistant Director to serve as Acting Director in his or her absence. When both the Director and the two Assistant Directors are absent at the same time for a significant period, the Executive Committee will appoint an Acting Director in consultation with the Dean of the Faculty.

5.1.3   Financial Manager

  1. The Financial Manager administers the Centre's funds, working with the Department of Finance of the University of Pretoria.
  2. The Financial Manager submits monthly financial statements to the Executive Committee, and to the Faculty and the administration of the University as required.

5.1.4   Office Manager

  1. The Office Manager coordinates the daily activities of the Centre and bears responsibility, at Executive Committee level, for specific projects identified by the Executive Committee.
  2. The Office Manager is responsible for the secretariat services to the Advisory Board and Executive Committee.

5.1.5   Staff members

  1. All staff members, including the office-bearers of the Centre, are appointed and remunerated in accordance with the prescripts of the University of Pretoria.
  2. Programme/Project Officers report to the relevant Programme/Project Manager, who reports to the assigned Executive Committee member.


6.1       The Centre raises funds from donor agencies and through courses, and is provided for in the budget of the Faculty of Law of the University of Pretoria.

6.2       The funds raised by the Centre are held by the University of Pretoria, and accounted for in accordance with the financial and audit prescripts of the University.

6.3       The use of the Centre’s funds is audited annually in accordance with the prescripts of the University.


7.1       Amendments to the Constitution may be initiated by the Executive Committee or any staff member. Proposed amendments are sent for approval by the Faculty Board and Senate, after consultation with staff.

7.2       The Constitution will be reviewed every five years.


In this Constitution, unless the context indicates otherwise:

“Centre” means the Centre for Human Rights;

“Constitution” means the Constitution of the Centre for Human Rights as adopted and approved by the Faculty of Law and Senate of the University;

“Faculty” means the Faculty for Law;

“Faculty Board” means the Faculty Board of the Faculty for Law;

“University” means the University of Pretoria.

Adopted and approved on this 20th  day of  February 2023.



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