Human Rights Month – Research Matters feature

Posted on March 25, 2020

Did you know that poor people have been criminalised for 200 years? Tukkievaria chat to Prof Magnus Killander at the Centre for Human Rights whose research is the focus of our latest Research Matters feature.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born 46 years ago in Sweden, a country in the north of Europe with a population slightly smaller than Gauteng. My parents still live in the house where I grew up.

How long have you been at CHR and UP?

I came to CHR as an intern in November 2002 and has been there ever since. I received my doctorate from UP in 2009.

How did you first get interested in human rights?

I have always been interested in how to improve the world we live in. Human rights is by no means a panacea but I still believe activism grounded in human rights is important. I worked for many years as a volunteer for Amnesty International in Sweden and later as a staff member of the Swedish section. I then did a master’s in human rights and democratisation in Venice, Italy, before I ended up at UP where I now coordinate our master’s programme in human rights and democratisation in Africa.

Why do you care so much about society’s most vulnerable people?

I think it’s anyone’s obligation to care about the vulnerable in society. This applies anywhere in the world but even more for those, such as me, who belong to the privileged in the most unequal country in the world.

What can we do on a daily basis to help raise awareness about human rights issues amongst the most vulnerable in society?

Be kind to each other. Respect that people are different and that challenges people face may not always be visible. Work to decrease inequality. I believe a basic income grant is needed in South Africa.

In light of the global pandemic of COVID-19, how do you think this will affect homeless people and vulnerable, poor people in general?

It’s difficult for many vulnerable persons to take the precautions that preventing the virus from spreading require in relation to hand washing, social distancing etc. Add to this the economic consequences of society essentially shutting down and the lack of a comprehensive social security system.

What are some of your hobbies?

Hiking, reading, TV, learning new things

If you could time travel and be a human rights expert at any time in global history, which gross human rights violation would you want to go back in time and fight against the most?

Contributors to gross human rights violations include imperialism, racism and patriarchy. What era and where to nip these in the bud is the question.

Any other research interests?

Role (and legitimacy of) international law in domestic law, effectiveness of international human rights monitoring, comparative constitutional law


- Author Shakira Hoosain

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