The Graduation Ceremony will take place at 14:00 in the Aula (at the Hatfield Campus of the University). Mrs Vera Chirwa, a human rights activist from Malawi and former Special Rapporteur, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, will deliver the keynote address.
The Vera Chirwa award, presented annually to the alumnus or alumna who best furthered the spirit of the programme in their subsequent career is also presented. This year, the award, goes posthumously to Julius Osega. Julius was part of the UN Mission in Darfur when he was killed. A number of prizes are awarded to deserving students, including the Nelson Mandela Prize for the best academic performance
The University’s Centre for Human Rights (located within the Faculty of Law), which was awarded the 2006 UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education, presents the one-year full-time LLM in partnership with eight other universities in Africa representing all the sub-regions: American University in Cairo (Egypt), Catholic University of Central Africa (Cameroon), University of Ghana, Makerere University (Uganda), Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique), the University of Mauritius, and the University of the Western Cape.
The students were drawn from a variety of backgrounds, including the civil service, the judiciary, academia, and some recent graduates. They spent the first six months at the University of Pretoria, where they were taught by internationally renowned lecturers.
In June the students undertook field trips to Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Somaliland. The next six months were spent at one of the partner institutions where they completed a dissertation and an internship with a human rights organization.
Since its inception in 2000, 227 students from 30 African countries have graduated from the programme, and gone on to hold various positions in government, academia, and the NGO sector. Thirty-four students from 19 countries have already been selected to participate in the programme next year.
The students who graduate this week will return to their respective countries where they will use their expertise to further an awareness of human rights and influence general human rights polity in international and national NGOs, government and academia. Some will work in international organisations and some may work at the newly established African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The project is sponsored by the European Commission, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), and the Royal Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.