Prof CJ Botha

Position, academic & professional qualifications

Christo Botha is professor of public law.  He holds the degrees LLB (Pret) Hons BA (International Politics) (Unisa) LLD (Unisa). The title of his LLD thesis was “Waarde-aktiverende grondwetuitleg: vergestalting van die materiële regstaat” (Value-activating constitutional interpretation: embodiment of the substantive constitutional state). He was admitted as advocate of the High Court of South Africa in 1982.

Academic & professional experience

He joined the Department of Constitutional and Public International Law, UNISA in 1980 as student assistant. In 1981 he was appointed as lecturer, promoted to senior lecturer in 1984 and associate professor in 1997. In 2000 he was appointed as full professor in the Department of Public Law, University of Pretoria, and was the head of the department from 2001 to 2009.

Teaching activities

He currently teaches Legal Interpretation (RVW 210) and International Humanitarian Law (PUR 420) for the LLB, as well as International Criminal Law (PUR 881) for the coursework LLM. He is also the course leader for the Program in Legislative Drafting (the only accredited legislative drafting course in South Africa), in collaboration with Enterprises University of Pretoria (Pty) Ltd.

Doctoral candidates

  • NNJA Ngoto “A critical appraisal of legal responses to international crimes committed in the DRC” (completed 2012)
  • J-M Retief “Extraordinary rendition in international law: criminalizing the indefinable” (completed 2015)
  • A van Coller “An evaluation of the meaning and practical implications of the concept of ‘direct participation in hostilities’” (completed 2015)
  • WN Nel “International criminal prosecution for religious persecution - the development of a classification directive ascribing religious persecution as crimes against humanity and genocide” (registered 2016)

Representative selection of publications

  • Botha CJ (2012) Statutory interpretation: an introduction for students (5th ed) Juta.
  • “Clausewitz's ‘Kleinkrieg’ or Mao's ‘Fishes in the Water’: Mushkat in proper conceptual perspective” (1982) South African Yearbook of International Law 141.
  • “Anticipatory self-defence and reprisals re-examined. South African attacks on ANC bases in neighbouring states: the ‘Guns of Gaberone’ or ‘rAIDS disease?” (1985) South African Yearbook of International Law 138.
  • Chapter: “Maatskaplike geregtigheid, die ‘animering’ van fundamentele grondwetlike waardes en regterlike aktivisme: ‘n nuwe paradigma vir grondwetuitleg” in Carpenter (ed) (1998) Suprema lex: opstelle oor die Grondwet aangebied aan Marinus Wiechers Lexis-Nexis.
  • Chapter: “The new ‘constitutional approach’ to statutory interpretation” in Rautenbach, Janse van Vuuren & Venter (eds) (2007) Politics, Socio-economic Rights and Culture in Constitutional Adjudication (2nd ed) Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung.
  • “From mercenaries to corporate armies: the disintegration of the African nation state and the outsourcing of state security” (1999) South African Yearbook of International Law 133.
  • “Aspects of legislative drafting: Some South African realities (or, plain language is not always plain sailing)” (2007) Statute Law Review 34 (co-authored with B Bekink).
  • “The Role of a Modern Central Bank in Managing Consumer Bankruptcies and Corporate Failures: A South African Public-Law Angle of Incidence” SA Mercantile Law Journal (2009) 74-91 (co-author with B Bekink).
  • Maccsand v City of Cape Town, Minister for Water Affairs and Environment, MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Western Cape Province, Minister for Rural Development and Land Reform, and Minister for Mineral Resources 2012 4 SA 181 (CC) – Making sense of the interwoven legislative interplay of timelines, hierarchical status, geographical space and governmental spheres in South Africa” De Jure (2015) (co-author with B Bekink).

Representative selection of papers delivered

  • “Interpretation of the Constitution” at a conference on the Interim Constitution, organised by the VerLoren van Themaat Centre for Public Law Studies (UNISA), Pretoria, South Africa 1994
  • “Some proposed changes to existing South African defence legislation” at a conference on military justice organised by the Institute for Security Studies, Johannesburg, South Africa 1994
  • “The new ‘constitutional approach’ to statutory interpretation” at a conference on “Politics, Socio-economic Rights and Culture in Constitutional Adjudication, organised by North-West University and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Mmabatho, South Africa 2003
  • “Relationship between Legislative Drafting and Statutory Interpretation” at a conference on legislative drafting, hosted by the SA Parliament, and organised by the Universities of Pretoria, Johannesburg and Indiana, Cape Town, South Africa 2005
  • “Terrorism and international humanitarian law” at a conference on terrorism hosted by the United Office on Drugs and Crime, the Association of Regional Magistrates of Southern Africa and the Commonwealth Secretariat, Johannesburg, South Africa 2006
  • “The constitutional dog wagging the interpretive tail: the South African experience since 1994” at the 6th World Congress of Constitutional Law on “Constitutionalism: Old concepts, New worlds”, Santiago, Chile 2004
  • “Aspects of legislative drafting: some South African realities” delivered at the annual conference of the International Bar Association, Chicago, USA 2006 (with B Bekink)
  • "Legislative Drafting Guidelines: an initial critical overview" delivered at a conference on legislative informatics in Abuja, Nigeria 2007
  • “Equality, religion, culture and constitutionalism at the cross-roads: recent Southern African and European experiences” delivered at the 7th World Congress of the International Association of Constitutional Law in Athens, Greece 2007
  • “The role of a modern central bank in managing consumer bankruptcies and corporate failures: A South African public law angle of incidence” presented at the World Colloquium on Future Trends in International Insolvency Law, Nottingham, UK 2008 (with B Bekink)
  • “The regulatory role of a modern central bank in stabilizing financial markets: a South African public-law perspective” presented at the annual conference of the International Bar Association, Madrid, Spain 2009
  • “The global economic meltdown and the modern welfare state - some uncomfortable (and possibly apocalyptic) public law perspectives” presented at the annual conference of the International Bar Association, Dubai, UAE 2011
  • “Dealing with overpopulation ― what about the inevitable interplay between public opinion, public policy & public law?” presented at the annual conference of the International Bar Association, Dublin, Ireland 2012
  • “Barriers to healthcare: does law have a role to play in solving the problem? Denial, myths, paranoia and the limits of the law - the struggle against HIV/AIDS in South Africa” presented at a medical law conference of the International Bar Association, Edinburgh, United Kingdom 2014

Areas of specialisation

His main areas of interest are constitutional and statutory interpretation, military law, legislative drafting, international criminal law and international humanitarian law.

Academic & professional memberships

Christo Botha is a member of the International Association of Constitutional Law (ICLA), the International Bar Association (IBA), the South African branch of the International Law Association (SABILA) and the ICRC Contact Group for Teachers of International Humanitarian Law in Southern Africa. He is also a member of the editorial board of the African Yearbook on International Humanitarian Law.

Awards & bursaries

  • In 1999 he received a scholarship from the Institute of International Public Law and International Relations, Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece (in conjunction with the Greek Ministry of Culture and Science, as well as the United Nations Information Centre in Athens) for a course in International Humanitarian Law in Thessaloniki, Greece
  • In 2002 he received a grant from the International Committee of the Red Cross (in conjunction with the Graduate Institute of International Studies and the Karl Popper Foundation) for a training seminar for university professors in International Humanitarian Law in Geneva, Switzerland
  • During September 2007 he attended the Summer School in Legislative Informatics and XML at the European University Institute in Fiesole (Florence), Italy. The seminar aimed at providing knowledge of the most significant emerging ICT standards for legislation, an understanding of their impact on the different phases of the legislative process, and the ability to participate in the preparation and use of standard-compliant (and machine-readable) documents throughout the law-making process
  • In 2010 he was inducted as a fellow of the Salzburg Global Conference


  • He acted as an adviser to the South African Law Reform Commission on a new Interpretation Act from 2003 to 2007
  • During 2002 he was a visiting professor at the University of Indiana (Bloomington), USA, and in 2003 at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • He was the Chair of the UP Disciplinary Committee (Students) from 2003 until 2007

Contact details

Published by Leon Gerber

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