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.”