The Pretoria University Law Press (PULP) invites you to the virtual book launch of National Commissions of Inquiry in Africa: Vehicles to pursue accountability for violations of the right to life?, edited by Thomas Probert and Christof Heyns (2020). Presentations will be followed by a Q&A session. 

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Virtual Book Launch: National Commissions of Inquiry in Africa: Vehicles to pursue accountability for violations of the right to life?

Tuesday 29 June 2021
14:00 GMT / 15:00 WAT / 16:00 SAST / 17:00 EAT
All participants are required to register on Zoom.
Webinar ID: 930 6674 5156
The event will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube.

Register on Zoom

National commissions of inquiry in the aftermath of violations of human rights are a common feature of the African legal and political landscape. There is often a fair measure of scepticism or caution about their use, and often with good reason. However, very little hard evidence is available about their performance. 

For the purposes of this book, researchers went to six countries in Africa—Chad, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Nigeria—and conducted in-depth investigations of commissions of inquiry that have been held there. Drawing on this research, the book argues that commissions of inquiry should not be contrasted criminal trials but rather with earlier stages of the investigative process. Rather than replacing criminal processes, commissions might guide whether and how they should take place. Moreover commissions can be cathartic events for victims; can lay foundations for the rule of law; and can make systemic recommendations. In short, in certain circumstances, they can serve to enable a broader concept of accountability.

Download this book (open access)

The event will be live streamed on social media and the recording will be available on YouTube.
A podcast of the launch will be available after the event.
A post-launch release sharing the highlights of the event.

Event Programme


  • Dr Marthie Bradley (PULP board member)
    She is a board member of PULP and frequently teaches at international level on topics of international humanitarian law, in general, and, more specifically, conflict classification. These universities and institutes include Palacký University in Olomouc, Faculty of Law, Department of International and European Law, Czech Republic; the NUST Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (NIPCONS); Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS), Islamabad; and as of 2021 the prestigious International Institute for International Humanitarian Law in San Remo, Italy.

Welcoming remarks and tribute to Prof Christof Heyns


  • Thomas Probert (Co-editor)
    A discussion of the background to the book, including the context of Prof. Heyns’ UN mandate focused on accountability for violations of the right to life.

  • Meetali Jain (Contributing author)
    An introduction to the longer history of the use of Commissions of Inquiry during colonial administrations, in Africa and elsewhere.

  • Yvonne Oyieke (Contributing author)
    An example of one of the six detailed case-studies presented in the book, in this case the challenging example of the Zaria Commission of Inquiry in Kaduna State, Nigeria.

  • Kate O’Regan 
    Justice Kate O’Regan served as one of the founding judges of the Constitutional Court of South Africa from 1994-2009, writing several of the Court’s most influential decisions. From 2013-2014, she served as a commissioner of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into policing, one of the case studies reviewed in the book. She is now the inaugural director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford. Justice O’Regan will offer some wider reflections upon good and bad practice with respect to commissions of inquiry and upon the role they can play within systems of accountability.

Q&A Session

Poll: Pretoria University Law Press (PULP)

Concluding remarks


Liesl Hager
Pretoria University Law Press (PULP)



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