Posted on February 19, 2021
Professor Ntombizozuko Dyani-Mhango of the Department of Jurisprudence at the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Faculty of Law has joined the newly formed Pan-African Scientific Research Council (PASRC) as an inaugural fellow.
The council consists of scientists and social scientists who will conduct original scientific and social science research to help governments and societies respond to the novel coronavirus. “I feel great about joining the PASRC because it is a new council that focuses on Pan-African excellence in research that will be used to influence policies of governments in relation to how to deal with COVID-19 and future pandemics,” says Prof Dyani-Mhango, who joined UP’s Faculty of Law in July 2020 as a lecturer and supervisor.
The PASRC also aims to highlight excellence in research in Africa, promote the career development of young scholars, encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, influence evidence-based policymaking in Africa, and communicate scientific research to a wide audience through public engagement.
Its main goal is to develop research-driven recommendations that address both the health risks posed by the pandemic and its externalities for African economies, social cohesion and governance. The multidisciplinary research will strive to identify policies that build long-term resilience and focus on vulnerable groups, including workers in the informal sector, women and children.
Prof Dyani-Mhango says that to be selected among the best in Africa means she is doing something right in terms of her research, which focuses on African Union law, in particular the African Union’s right to intervene, its relationship with the International Criminal Court and its member states obligations in international criminal justice. She also focuses on South Africa’s constitutional law, with an emphasis on constitutional obligations and separation of powers.
The Eastern Cape-born professor graduated with LLB and LLM degrees from the University of the Western Cape, and holds a Doctor of Juridical Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the USA. Prof Dyani-Mhango worked as an intern at the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania and clerked at the Constitutional Court for Justice Sandile Ngcobo before he became Chief Justice of South Africa. Before joining UP, she was at Wits University’s School of Law for 16 years, teaching and supervising undergraduate and graduate students in public international law, advanced international law, international criminal law and constitutional law.
The establishment of the PASRC was initiated by Prof Leonard Wantchekon, founder and president of the African School of Economics in Benin. He is an affiliated faculty member at Princeton University and is a professor of Politics, International Affairs and Economics. He says forming the PASRC was based on the idea that “research is not a luxury, but rather a survival strategy” and is “part of his contribution to the ongoing global campaign to generate a robust and enduring international response to the [COVID-19] pandemic”.
According to Prof Dyani-Mhango, those joining as fellows will be expected to play a leadership role by joining the structures of the PASRC’s Editorial Board and committees. “We will also present and publish our research, collaborate with other members and provide guidance to younger researchers,” she says. “There will also be opportunities for us to contribute to the PASRC’s engagement with policymakers.”
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