The Ambassador of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria, Ambassador Trine Skymoen, and the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria (UP), Prof Cheryl de la Rey, today (10 April 2018) renewed the long-standing collaborative partnership between Norway and UP. Building on two previous periods of support, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its Embassy in Pretoria, provided a three-year grant to the University’s Centre for Human Rights, covering 2018 to 2020.

The aim of this grant is to contribute to the realisation of human rights in Africa by enhancing the capacity of African Union human rights and democracy-related bodies, African states and African civil society.

The grant contributes to the following Centre programmes and projects:

  • the Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa;
  • the work of the Centre’s Women’s Rights Unit;
  • the work of the Centre’s Transparency, Democracy and Digital Rights Unit;
  • its Business and Human Rights Unit;
  • its Disability Rights Unit;
  • the presentation of some of its annual week-long intensive Advanced Human Rights Short Courses;
  • the Children’s Rights Unit, including its work to monitor the implementation of decisions against states party to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child;
  • the presentation of the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition, which is the largest event bringing African faculties of law together annually; and
  • the Freedom from Violence Unit, which is based in the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA), of which Professor Heyns is the Director.

The following are examples of activities to be undertaken under the grant:

  • Research will be conducted on the rights of persons with albinism in Africa, as a basis to better advocate for their rights, and to reinforce the relevant legal response by African states.
  • Guidelines to improve transparency and openness during elections in African states will be developed.
  • The Centre will work with partner universities on the continent to advance human rights teaching of master’s students in human rights, and in the process also build the capacity of these partners.
  • Recent graduates from the Centre’s academic programmes will serve as legal officers to enhance the capacity of the African Union’s two major human rights bodies (the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights).
  • Events will be organised and material developed to increase the general public’s awareness and understanding of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), in order to enhance the PAP’s impact and strengthen its role in Africa.
  • State officials from African governments will undergo training on how best to integrate current human rights developments into their work, and to build their capacity to prepare and present state reports about the rights of women in Africa, so as to hold governments accountable to their human rights obligations.
  • African scholars and scholarships will be cultivated in important emerging thematic areas, including freedom from violence and the rights of persons with disabilities.

Prof Frans Viljoen, Director of the Centre for Human Rights, said: ‘Authoritarian populism is increasingly threatening human rights worldwide – also across Africa. The Centre for Human Rights aims to contribute to reinforcing human rights through education, awareness-raising and strengthening institutions. All this would remain words and ideals in proposals if … not supported by partners such as the Norwegian government. Sincere appreciation on behalf of the Centre, the University and everyone benefiting from the grant!’

The Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof Andre Boraine, expressed his deepest gratitude, on behalf of the Faculty of Law, and added: ‘This grant will assist the Faculty in further establishing itself as an internationally acknowledged centre for academic excellence in service of the broader African community.’

The Norwegian government is a long-standing supporter of the ideals of human rights and democracy. It contributed materially and morally to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. On 12 April, the Embassy will host the opening of a permanent exhibition on Norway’s contribution to the South African liberation struggle at Liliesleaf Liberation Centre in Rivonia.


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