Institute for International and
Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA)

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Call for papers: SDG 16 Symposium: Safe communities, just societies and effective governance, 5 September 2019

8 August 2019

South Africa is in the process of completing its first National Report within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in addition to presenting its Voluntary National Review at the UN High Level Political Forum in New York in July. The University of Pretoria has over the past six months been working with Stats SA to contribute to South Africa’s reports.


University of Pretoria: Opportunity for doctoral studies on aspects of ‘Freedom from violence in Africa’

The University of Pretoria, working with a global network of research partners (including in Cambridge, Geneva and well-established collaboration with more than a dozen other African universities), recently established a research programme that focuses on violence reduction and securing the right to life in Africa. This is a multi-disciplinary programme that engages in the African context with the aspiration of UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 to establish ‘peaceful societies’.



CHR hosts public lecture by Clement Voule and Christof Heyns

10 June 2019

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria hosted a public lecture by Clement Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of peaceful assembly and association, and Christof Heyns, member of the UN Human Rights Committee on 4 June 2019.

Mr Voule spoke about his upcoming report to the UN Human Rights Council, on assemblies in the digital age. Prof Heyns spoke about General Comment 37 of the Human Rights Committee on the right of peaceful assembly. 

Forthcoming publication: Self-Defence against Non-State Actors Volume 1

17 May 2019

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In this book, self-defence against non-state actors is examined by three scholars whose geographical, professional, theoretical, and methodological backgrounds and outlooks differ greatly. Their trialogue is framed by an introduction and a conclusion by the series editors. The novel scholarly format accommodates the pluralism and value changes of the current era, a shifting world order and the rise in nationalism and populism. 


TuksLaw Jessup Team does Faculty proud on world stage

Jessup team 2019

15 May 2019

In April 2019, the University of Pretoria’s Jessup Team represented South Africa at the International Rounds of the Phillip C Jessup Moot Court Competition in Washington DC. The team had won the South African National Rounds held in Johannesburg in February, where they were declared the ‘Overall Winner’ and thereby earned the right to represent South Africa at the International Rounds. More than 700 Law Faculties competed in the 2019 Jessup Competition across the globe


International guidelines on human rights and drug policy

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Drug control intersects with much of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Member State pledge to leave no one behind. In line with the 2030 Agenda, the UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021 and the HIV, Health and Development Strategy 2016-2021: Connecting the Dots, the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy provide a comprehensive set of international legal standards for placing human dignity and sustainable development at the centre of Member State responses to illicit drug economies.


The Law on Police Use of Force Website

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The Centre for Human Rights website covering domestic laws on the use of force by law enforcement officials worldwide ( now covers the laws of 200 countries worldwide. 

The website was started last year, under the supervision of Prof Stuart Maslen. Prof Maslen, who specialises in international law and in particular on the use of force, worked on his own and with students of the Centre, as well as with a clinical group at Oxford University and experts and students at universities in India and Switzerland, to gather the laws from these countries and to do an evaluation of how they measure up to international norms. 


U.N. Rebukes Vietnam for Activist Arrests, Executions

Vietnam flag

Original post: The New York Times

28 March

GENEVA — A U.N. human rights watchdog called on Vietnam on Thursday to stop imprisoning activists and journalists for criticizing state policies and voiced concern at a "high number of death sentences and executions" imposed for lesser crimes after flawed trials.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee reviewed Vietnam's record on upholding civil and political freedoms, marking the first time Hanoi has engaged with the independent experts since 2002.


U.N. Urges Eritrea to Probe Killings, Missing Detainees


Original post: The New York Times

28 March

GENEVA — Eritrea must investigate allegations of extrajudicial killings by its security forces and resolve the fate of dozens of missing detainees, including a former finance minister, a United Nations human rights watchdog said on Thursday.

Military conscripts should not be to subjected to forced labor in mining or construction "while receiving no or very little salary" during indefinite national service, it said.


UN Urges Eritrea to Clarify Fate of Dozens of Missing People

U.N. Independent Investigation on Burundi independent experts, from left, Pablo de Greiff, Christof Heyns and Maya Sahli-Fadel, talk to the media after presenting a final report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Sept. 27, 2016.

Original post: VOA News

28 March

GENEVA — U.N. Human Rights experts are calling on the government of Eritrea to clarify the fate of dozens of disappeared people whose whereabouts have remained unknown since 2001.

Eritrea is one of seven countries examined by the Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The 18 independent experts of the Human Rights Committee have many concerns about the prevailing situation in Eritrea.


UN HRCtte hears half-day of contributions on a new general comment on the right of peaceful assembly

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28 March

On 20 March the UN Human Rights Committee (HRCtte) dedicated a half-day of their current 125th session to hearing from civil society and expert stakeholders who had made written contributions concerning their next general comment, which will be on the right to peaceful assembly.

The HRCtte is one of the UN’s “treaty bodies”, and overseas the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In addition to receiving state reports and individual petitions, the treaty bodies also periodically adopt “General Comments” which are designed to condense their jurisprudence and provide interpretive guidance on their respective treaties. The HRCtte’s most recent general comment was No.36 on the right to life (Art.6).


Human Rights Committee holds general discussion in preparation for a general comment on the right of peaceful assembly

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ohc-logo Original post
Welcoming remarks by Christof Heyns

GENEVA (20 March 2019) - The Human Rights Committee this morning held a half-day general comments discussion in preparation for a general comment on article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the right of peaceful assembly.

Introducing the general comment, Christof Heyns, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the general comment N°37, said that protest action was a defining part of the modern era and that allowing a platform for peaceful protest within a sensible framework was an integral part of the quest for a more peaceful world.  The drafting process offered a singular opportunity to develop a coherent framework on which to base the future jurisprudence and to examine how new developments in the world impacted this right.  Clearly, he said, assemblies were a “different animal” in the world of instant communications, surveillance, many more forms of non-lethal weapons, and the increasing use of drones in policing actions.  Based on the written submissions received so far and today’s discussion, the Committee would develop the first draft of the general comment, which would be publicly discussed in July 2019, while the final version was expected by end of 2020.


Why the closure of Burundi’s UN human rights office is a major setback


13 March

Author: Christof Heyns

After 23 years, the UN Human Rights Office in Burundi has closed – at the insistence of the country’s government. The Conversation Africa’s Moina Spooner spoke to Professor Christof Heyns, who was Chair of the United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi, about the closure, why it happened and what this means for the country.


Geneva diplomats briefed about new research on the national impact of United Nations treaty bodies

United Nations Treaty Bodies Impact at the National Level

13 March

On 18 February 2019, researchers from 20 countries briefed state representatives about their research on the national impact of the United Nations (UN) treaty bodies (TBs).

This study, led by Professors Christof Heyns and Frans Viljoen at the Human Rights Center of the University of Pretoria and in collaboration with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, examines the impact of the UN human rights treaty system at the national level. Researchers based in 20 countries investigate the extent to which the work of UN TBs has had an impact on their country’s constitution, legal system and policies. Results will be presented by the end of 2019.


New publication by Stuart Casey-Maslen: The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: A Commentary


This is a legal commentary on the most recent global disarmament law treaty. Born out of deep concern about the humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and a frustration at the refusal of nuclear-armed powers to countenance nuclear disarmament, the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is an important addition to the corpus of international law. The commentary includes an introduction to nuclear weapons and the international legal framework prior to the treaty's adoption at the United Nations. It then analyses the treaty itself article by article, looking at issues of state responsibility and attribution, jurisdiction, and compatibility with membership of military alliances.

Invitation: SDG Public Lecture Series


The South African SDG Hub at the Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership cordially invite you to an SDG Public Lecture on SDG 16 delivered by Professor Christof Heyns

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UN Job Opening: Internship-Human Rights (Regional), I (Temporary Job Opening)

UN jobs

Posting Title:Internship-Human Rights (Regional), I (Temporary Job Opening)
Department/Office: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Duty Station: BANGKOK
Posting Period: 13 January 2019 - 31 December 2019
Job Opening Number: 19-Human Rights Affairs-OHCHR-110034-J-Bangkok (A)
Staffing Exercise: N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity

Apply now


Reporting on South Africa’s pursuit of SDG-16


3 January 2019

The researchers who form the Freedom from Violence initiative at ICLA will be involved over the coming months in drafting the text of South Africa’s National Report on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGR) with respect to SDG-16, the goal aimed at promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.