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’.
The programme begins from the assumption that violence is not an immutable constant—that it can be affected by social, economic, legal and policy interventions. Moreover, it explores to what extent, in addition to the commitment of the SDGs, States’ international human rights law obligations require them to implement interventions that can be demonstrated to have an impact on the protection of life.
The ‘Freedom from Violence in Africa’ programme is located in the Faculty of Law, and some of the core research will be about the legal dimensions of issues such as the use of force by law enforcement officials, and the State’s duty to protect and to investigate, including in the context of anti-terrorism measures and armed conflict. It will also explore some of the more practical dimensions of these fields, including the use of less lethal weapons, or the use of new technologies for training, monitoring and accountability.
At the same time, we are also very interested in the insights that are brought to the topic by other disciplines such as criminology, sociology, political science, public health, and history, especially with respect to better understanding the incidence of violence in Africa. Applicants from such backgrounds or looking to be based in such other Faculties can be supported as part of the programme, potentially across an emerging international network.
Students on the programme will have the opportunity to engage with each other and with international experts in this field, as well as to participate in research projects and collaborative interventions aimed at reducing levels of violence in particular contexts.
Freedom from Violence has a broad research agenda and welcomes doctoral applicants to propose specific research projects within it. The essential contention is that a human-rights based approach, with robust accountability mechanisms that take seriously the role that accountability has in structural reform—can reinforce and be reinforced by systemic review and developmental approaches to violence reduction.
Within these broad research questions, supervisors will also welcome research projects aimed at taking further existing research on commissions of inquiry as accountability mechanisms, and examining the potential application of the revised Minnesota Protocol. As part of a separate, but clearly overlapping collaborative research project, applications would be welcomed on the use of force in counter-poaching.
Christof Heyns is professor of human rights law and Director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law at the University of Pretoria, where he served as Dean of the Faculty of Law and Director of the Centre for Human Rights. He is a member of the UN Human Rights Committee. He teaches on the human rights Masters’ programme at Oxford University, is adjunct professor at the American University in Washington DC, and in 2016 was a visiting professor at the University of Geneva. Heyns was United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions 2010 – 2016. During 2016 he chaired the UN Independent Investigation on Burundi.
Stuart Maslen specialises in the use of force under international law. He is an Honorary Professor at the University of Pretoria and holds a doctorate in international humanitarian law and master’s degrees in international human rights law and in forensic ballistics. He recently co-authored a commentary on the Arms Trade Treaty, published by Oxford University Press in 2016, and on police use of force under international law, published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.
Thomas Probert is an Extraordinary Lecturer at the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa at the University of Pretoria and a Research Associate at the Centre of Governance and Human Rights at the University of Cambridge. He worked as a research consultant to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions from 2013-2016, including being based at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva from 2015-6.
Applications / Contact
1 June 2018
This website is an academic review of national regimes governing use of force by law enforcement officials
The centrepiece of the website is the country profile. Each profile has six sections:
15 May 2018
The Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria, in conjunction with its Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA), are organising luncheons with senior members of the legal profession to provide a platform for students to interact with great legal minds.
16 April 2018
As nations convene at the United Nations in Geneva this week to continue deliberations on “lethal autonomous weapons systems” or “killer robots”, it is clear that the diplomatic process is moving too slowly.
If we are to avoid a future where robots decide who gets to live and who dies, there is no time or money to waste — governments must act now.
30 March 2018
On 27 March 2018, the African Union held a High-Level Seminar on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems for African Union Missions to Geneva at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva., Switzerland. The Seminar was organised by the South African Research Chair in International Law, University of Johannesburg in collaboration with the African Union and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.
21 Mar 2018
Our Hosts, the Acting Premier of Gauteng, Mr Panyaza Lesufi and the Executive Mayor of Sedibeng District Municipality, Cllr Busisiwe Modisakeng,
Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nkosinathi Mthethwa and all Ministers present,
Deputy Ministers, Members of the Gauteng Provincial Executive Council and Members of Parliament and Provincial Legislature present,
President of the Pan Africanist Congress,
Leaders of various political parties represented here,
Leaders of Labour, Faith-based organisations, and Civil Society,
Community of Sedibeng,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dumelang! Sanibonani! Good Day!
March 16, 2018
University of Pretoria (UP) students recently attended a training session on how to spot fake online news.
These students will become part of a team helping Amnesty International researchers investigate human rights violations across the globe.
The training session was hosted by the faculty of law and involved both theoretical and practical knowledge on how to spot so-called “fake news”.
The Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, invites applications from individuals interested in pursuing a doctorate degree in law, specifically on the topic of the impact of the United Nations human rights treaties on the domestic level.
The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world's largest moot court competition in which teams compete by representing countries in a simulation of a fictional dispute before the International Court of Justice. Participants from over 645 law schools in 95 countries will compete in the 2017-2018 season.
The International Moot Court (IMC) is a two-yearly international competition organised by The Hague City Council in collaboration with the City of New York. The competition is intended for high school learners and is aimed at encouraging an engagement with international (criminal) law. The competition is open to learners from all countries and is hosted in The Hague, Netherlands.
6 February 2018 - The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is pleased to announce the start of a comprehensive study into the impact of the United Nations (UN) human rights treaty system in 20 countries around the world.
24 January 2018 - On January 18 this CGHR panel discussion brought international experts from the United Nations into conversation with academics based in Cambridge and elsewhere to explore the role of police, the act of policing, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
16 January 2018
The Organisers of the Stellenbosch Annual Seminar on Constitutionalism in Africa (SASCA) are pleased to announce the call for papers for the Sixth Stellenbosch Annual Seminar on Constitutionalism in Africa (SASCA 2018) which will be held in Stellenbosch (South Africa) from 4 -7 September 2018.
The theme for this seminar is "Democracy, elections and constitutionalism in Africa."