Two alumni from the Centre for Human Rights elected to African Union institutions

Posted on June 30, 2015

The Centre for Human Rights is pleased to announce the recent election of two alumni of its LLM/MPhil programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa to two institutions of the African Union (AU).

Dr Solomon Dersso (from Ethiopia, graduated in 2003) was elected as Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, a quasi-judicial body that works to promote and protect human rights in Africa, interpret the African Charter and consider individual complaints of violations of the Charter. Dr Dersso obtained a PhD in Law from the University of Witwatersrand in 2009. Two of his major research areas are constitutional design and institutional and policy mechanisms for accommodating ethno-cultural diversity in Africa. He served as Legal Adviser to the AU High Implementation (Mbeki) Panel (AUHIP) Team of Experts on the boundary dispute between Sudan and South Sudan. He is currently in charge of the Peace and Security Council Report at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Prof Benyam Mezmur (from Ethiopia, graduated in 2005) was re-elected to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, a team of experts in children’s rights whose mandate it is to ensure that states comply with the African Children's Charter to guarantee the best interests of children in Africa. Prof Mezmur obtained a PhD in Law from the University of the Western Cape. At present he is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of the Western Cape and Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Members of the African Commission and the African Committee of Experts serve in their individual capacities. The election of Dr Dersso and Prof Mezmur therefore attest to their exceptional academic and professional achievements and recognise their ability to contribute to the African human rights project.

Dr Dersso and Prof Mezmur are two of more than 400 alumni of the LLM/MPhil programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa, a fast-growing group whose members are highly qualified and experienced human rights experts. Since 2000 their cumulative academic and professional achievements, personal commitment and integrity have created and maintained a culture of respect for human rights, development and peace in Africa and for Africa.

For more information, please contact:

Norman Taku
Assistant Director: Centre for Human Rights
University of Pretoria
Tel: (012) 420 4944
Email: [email protected]



- Author Adebayo Okeowo, Centre for Human Rights

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