Prof John Dugard awarded the 2010 Gruber Foundation International Justice Prize

Posted on June 20, 2010

This Prize is awarded to the champions of historically oppressed populations.

Prof Dugard has since 2007 been appointed as Professor of Law at the Centre, where he has taught on the LLM (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa) and short courses presented by the Centre. He also holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Pretoria.

Professor Dugard’s award is most appropriate. He has been a trail blazer for human rights in South Africa. During the dark days of apartheid, he took a leadership role both as an academic and advocate. His seminal book,

Human rights and the South African legal order, is a landmark in the academic discourse on human rights in South Africa.

Professor Dugard has, as an academic, been recognised with the highest research rating given by the South African National Research Foundation. His text, International law: A South African perspective, is the leading text in its field, and has guided the studies of a generation of South African law students.

At the international level, Professor Dugard has, as a member of the International Law Commission, played a crucial role in the development of international law; and as Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories worked tirelessly to bring the human rights dimensions of this situation to international attention.

As an advocate, he pushed the boundaries of the possible with innovative litigation to benefit victims of apartheid. His founding of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1978 was a pivotal step to ensure that activism be fused with academic work in the service of social engagement of universities in South Africa.

The students of the Centre for Human Rights have over the years joined many others who have benefited from Professor Dugard’s inspirational and thought-provoking teaching and engagement. The combination of academic excellence and enduring commitment to a fairer, more equitable and just world are the true Legacy of Prof Dugard, and will remain a continuous source of inspiration and encouragement for us at the Centre for Human Rights.

The Centre also congratulates the other recipients of the 2010 Gruber Justice Prize. In particular, we note with appreciation, the role of Justice Michael Kirby in consistently foregrounding the importance of human rights in the context of HIV and AIDS, and the importance of international human rights law in the adjudication of domestic courts.

It is particularly significant that the award is made on 16 June the commemoration of the Soweto Massacre in the anti-Apartheid struggle, and now a public holiday known as Youth Day symbolising his commitment to issues of justice and equality and his focus, as an academic, on young people / lawyers.

For further information please contact Prof Frans Viljoen on (012) 420-3228 or [email protected].    

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