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Overview

This page provides an overview of the Centre's activities:

About the Centre for Human Rights


Download the Centre for Human Rights brochure

The Centre for Human Rights is both an academic department and a non-governmental organisation, and works towards human rights education in Africa, a greater awareness of human rights, the wide dissemination of publications on human rights in Africa, and the improvement of the rights of women, people living with HIV, indigenous peoples, sexual minorities and other disadvantaged or marginalised persons or groups across the continent.

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. The focus of the Centre has now broadened beyond the borders of South Africa. Over the years, it has positioned itself in an unmatched network of practising and academic lawyers, national and international civil servants and human rights practitioners across the entire continent, with a specific focus on human rights law in Africa, and international development law in general.

Today, a wide network of Centre alumni contribute in numerous ways to the advancement and strengthening of human rights and democracy all over the Africa continent, and even further afield. In 2006, the Centre for Human Rights was awarded the UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education, with particular recognition for the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition and the LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa.

 

Academic Programmes

  • Every year 30 students from African countries are admitted to the Master's Programme (LLM/MPhil) in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa. The LLM/MPhil is a regional cooperation initiative presented by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria (South Africa), in conjunction with the faculties of law at Université d'Abomey-Calavi (Benin), Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), University of Alexandria (Egypt), Catholic University of Central Africa (Cameroon), University of Nairobi (Kenya), Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique), Université Gaston Berger de Saint Louis (Senegal), University of Ghana, University of Lagos (Nigeria), University of Mauritius, Makerere University (Uganda), University of Venda and the University of the Western Cape (South Africa).
  • The Master's Programme (LLM) in International Trade and Investment Law is presented by the University of Pretoria and the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in partnership with The Washington College of Law in the USA and the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. This programme is also aimed at students from the continent.
  • The Centre for Human Rights offers a LLM/MPhil (Sexual & Reproductive Rights in Africa) degree.
  • The Centre also presents a part-time postgraduate course: The LLM/MPhil in Multidisciplinary Human Rights.
  • The Centre aslo offers a LLD (Human Rights) degree under the supervision of Professors Frans Viljoen, Christof Heyns, Michelo Hansungule, Charles Fombad, Charles Ngwena and Magnus Killander.
  • Read more about the other programmes offered at the Faculty of Law

Human Rights Education Projects

  • The Advanced Human Rights Courses is a series of short courses. These one-week intensive and advanced short courses cover aspects of human rights.
  • The annual African Human Rights Moot Court Competition has been organised by the Centre for Human Rights since 1992. Seventy or more law faculties in Africa send a team of students and lecturers to this competition each year.
  • The Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria hosts an annual African Disability Rights Moot Court Comeptition during the first week of November. This Moot Court Competition coincides with the annual disability rights conference.
  • The annual Nelson Mandela World Human Rights  Moot Court Competition was first held in 2009 at the University of Pretoria and is hosted by the Centre for Human Rights with support from various donors. Held over a four day period, it brings together undergraduate law students from all over the world, who argue a hypothetical human rights problem.
  • The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) is assisting the African Commission Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights (Working Group) in a project to gather information on and investigate the impacts of the extractive industries sector in Africa.
  • The Human Rights Clinics focus on real-life and contemporary human rights issues, ranging from the submission of cases or 'communications' to African-based human rights courts or human rights treaty bodies, to contributions to the thematic reports of UN Special Rapporteurs.
    Students on the Centre's master's programmes work in these clinics under the supervision of a Centre staff member or doctoral student.

Research & Advocacy

  • The Access to Medicines project focuses on Intellectual Property (IP), Human Rights, and Access to Medicine. The Project monitors trends in international trade that impact Access to Medicines, at the regional and country levels; and also examines emerging measures to improve access to medicines in Africa.
  • The AIDS and Human Rights Research Unit (AHRRU) is a collaboration between the Centre for the Study of AIDS (CSA) and the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria. The Unit promotes and supports research on issues arising from the intersection of HIV and AIDS, on one hand, and human rights on the other.
  • The Business and Human Rights Unit at the Centre for Human Rights (CHR) is committed to finding evidence-based ways of addressing human rights impacts of business on the African continent. This includes conducting research on international business and human rights standards and instruments, building capacity among governments, the corporate sector, academia, civil society and communities, investigating the human rights and environmental impacts of business in Africa, and engaging with judicial, quasi-judicial and non-judicial redress mechanisms.
  • The Disability Rights Unit at the Centre for Human Rights (CHR) is committed to finding evidence-based ways of addressing the rights of persons with disabilities on the African continent. This includes conducting research on international disability rights standards and instruments, building capacity among governments, national human rights institutions, academia, civil society and communities, and engaging with judicial, quasi-judicial and non-judicial redress mechanisms.
  • FRAME is a large-scale, collaborative research project funded under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) coordinated by the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and conducted by 19 research institutes from around the world. Our research focuses on the contribution of the EU’s internal and external policies to the promotion of human rights worldwide. The Centre for Human Rights participates in this project in relation to seven thematic areas.
  • The Freedom of Expression and Access to Information program is principally aimed at supporting the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the promotion and protection of Freedom of Expression and Access to information on the continent, as guaranteed by article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and further elaborated by the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa.
  • The Gender Unit of the Centre for Human Rights was established in 1993, with the objective of improving the quality of the life and the status of women in South Africa. After ten years of focusing mainly on the legal situation of women in South Africa, the Unit shifted its focus to the human rights situation of women in Africa. The Unit approaches gender issues holistically and includes sexual minority rights in its work. It also recognises the important role of men in the struggle for gender equality and aims to involve men accordingly.
  • An 'implementation crisis' is widely acknowledged to be afflicting regional and international human rights mechanisms posing a grave threat to their integrity and perceived legitimacy. Against this backdrop, regional and international bodies are pursuing efforts to strengthen their mechanisms for ensuring redress for victims of human rights violations and to ensure the swift and effective implementation of their decisions. This situation adds urgency to a debate which is long-established but remains unresolved: what does it mean to comply with international and regional human rights law and what factors influence whether States comply or not? In order to explore this question in more detail, four leading academic human rights centres have come together in a unique partnership, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).  These are the Human Rights Implementation Centre at Bristol University; the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex; Middlesex University; and the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria. The Open Society Justice Initiative, part of the Open Society Foundations, will also serve as a partner organisation for the research, which will bring together policy makers, practitioners, and academics.
  • Professor Danny Bradlow, a specialist in international economic law, has been appointed to head the International Development Law Unit, a joint project of the Centre for Human Rights and the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, which was established as part of the South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI).
  • International Law in Domestic Courts (ILDC) is an online service launched in January 2007 bringing together annotated case law on the application of international law by domestic courts across the world.
  • The project on the promotion of indigenous peoples’ rights through promotion of the principles of the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (No. 169) and promotion of the implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights is a three year (2006 - 2008) research initiative of the ILO and the African Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Communities/Populations in Africa.
  • With financial support of the German Technical Corporation (GTZ), Dr Rukato, a CEO at the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), was assigned the responsibility of writing a comprehensive monograph on NEPAD. Read more about the NEPAD book project.
  • The Unlawful Killings Unit was established in 2014 to research the incidence of unlawful killings across the African continent, working within the Centre for Human Rights and the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa.  Unlawful killings, in this context, are taken to include any killings that violate the right to life and hence are contrary to international law.
  • Smaller projects that are undertaken by the Centre will be listed under "Other projects"
  • A list of all the researchers that are involved in the Centre's research and advocay projetcs are credited.
  • State reporting project: In line with its obligations under the various treaties that it is a party to, the South African Government is currently in the process of preparing several outstanding state reports. The Centre for Human Rights has been working with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in preparing these reports.
  • Since May 2008, the Centre for Human Rights has been engaged in the Strengthening Democracy Project, which focuses on researching the extent, solutions to, and possible causes of xenophobia and xenophobic violence in South Africa
  • The UNDP Advocacy Tools are designed to offer easy access to a series of tools that can be used by parliamentarians, government officials, members of the judiciary, lawyers, civil society organisations, people living with HIV and all interested institutions and individuals to promote and implement a human rights approach to the response to HIV.

Publications

  • PULP (Pretoria University Law Press) publishes high quality law texts, in all fields of law, including human rights. PULP has a special focus on legal texts dealing with the law of Africa.
  • The African Human Rights Law Journal publishes peer-reviewed contributions dealing with human rights related topics of relevance to Africa, Africans and scholars of Africa. The Journal appears twice a year, in March and October.
  • The African Human Rights Law Reports contains legal decisions of relevance to human rights law in Africa. These include selected domestic decisions from the whole continent, as well as the decisions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations treaty bodies, dealing with African countries. The Reports are fully indexed, to facilitate access and make research easy.
  • Constitutional Law of South Africa is the most widely cited treatise on South African constitutional law. One reason for its stature is that this four-volume, 75 chapter work covers every dimension of court practice, institutional constitutional law and all of the operational provisions and the substantive provisions of the Bill of Rights. However, what really distinguishes Constitutional Law of South Africa from other commentaries is its sustained engagement with its subject matter.
  • The Centre also publishes other documents and publications on a irregular basis.
  • Electronic copies of the Centre for Human Rights Annual Reports are now available for download.

Human Rights Documents

  • Visit our Human Rights Documents section for treaties and documents relating to human rights, according to country and theme.
  • The Indigenous Peoples' Rights Database contains key documents used to analyse the level of legal protection afforded to indigenous populations in studies of 24 African countries.
  • The UNDP Advocacy Tools are designed to offer easy access to a series of tools that can be used by parliamentarians, government officials, members of the judiciary, lawyers, civil society organisations, people living with HIV and all interested institutions and individuals to promote and implement a human rights approach to the response to HIV.
  • The Oliver R Tambo Law Library houses a strong collection of the primary legal materials of African countries - that is legislation and law reports - as well as secondary legal materials, such as textbooks. The collection is of great potential use to anyone with a research interest into the law of Africa.
  • Our monograph collection in this aspect of law is particularly extensive and up-to-date. It contains books from many different jurisdictions worldwide. The Human Rights Reference Collection aims to make human rights law quickly and easily accessible for students and researchers. This database is an index to the material in our extensive human rights law journal collection.

News

  • Centre News and Events contain information regarding the Centre's activities and other newsworthy occurences.
  • Press releases and statements released by the Centre for Human Rights
  • Human Rights News from around the globe

Opportunties

  • Vacancies and Internships available
  • Conferences and Call for Papers

Acknowledgments

  • Please click here to view acknowledgments for Creative Commons Licensed material.

Visit the University of Pretoria website

  • Visit the website of the University of Pretoria: www.up.ac.za
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