Special issue on the Right to Development in Africa and natural resources ownership

Journal for Juridical ScienceThe Journal for Juridical Science, produced by the Faculty of Law at the University of the Free State (UFS), recently published a Special Edition dedicated to the findings of the 3rd International Conference on the Right to Development, held at the UFS in September 2019. The conference, hosted by the Free State Centre for Human Rights, in collaboration with the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria and the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute at the University of South Africa, revolved around the theme, ‘The Right to Development in Africa and natural resources ownership’. Dr Carol Ngang, guest editor, contributor, and postdoctoral research fellow in the Free State Centre for Human Rights, observes from the onset that the right to development envisages that the use of natural resources for development must be equitable to ensure that it contributes to making living conditions progressively better for the human person. The findings of the 3rd International Conference on the Right to Development, currently available in the Special Issue of the Journal for Juridical Science, are insightful. Most of the contributions echo in one way or another the Free State Centre for Human Rights’ goals, that is, an institution characterised by critical, interdisciplinary, and contextually engaged research, advocacy, and legal practice, focusing in its work on the relationship between human rights and transformation. The journal can be accessed here

Scholarly engagement and decolonisation: Views from South Africa, the Netherlands, and the United States 

Editors: M Crul, L Dick, H Ghorashi and A Valenzuela Jr 
scholarly engagement A recent co-edited volume by Liezl Dick – postdoctoral research fellow in the Free State Centre for Human Rights – and three other colleagues has just been published. The book, titled Scholarly Engagement and Decolonisation: Views from South Africa, The Netherlands, and the United States mirror the challenges and achievements of academics and practitioners in three national contexts (including South Africa, the Netherlands, and the United States), which could serve as a foundation for academia to move towards dismantling elitist and privilege-based assumptions, and formulating new forms of knowledge production and institutional policies, both inside and outside academia. As co-editor of this relevant volume, our colleague Liezl shows the expertise acquired in her research foci, particularly social cohesion and transformation in higher education. The book aims to help create a more inclusive society in which academics, students, and practitioners can engage, learn, and transform structures of inequality, exclusion, and disconnection where it seems to have the greatest impact. Academics need mutual inspiration and exchange of thoughts and practices to reflect on their actions and their own knowledge production. It is in this sense that some contributions in the volume are in line with the transformation agenda at the heart of the Free State Centre for Human Rights’ strategy to bring about a better world rooted in equality, justice, and socio-economic transformation. The book is available here.

Urban lives conference (August 2019)

Image - Naval Hill Conference AttendeesIn August 2019, a two-day conference titled Urban lives was held in the Free State Centre for Human Rights, in partnership with the British Academy and the Academy  of Social Science of South Africa. The conference included a spatial justice tour, with visits to the University of the Free State Faculty of Heath Sciences’ simulation lab and various hospitals around Bloemfontein, as well as a day of engaging papers presented by scholars from diverse backgrounds. In short, this event provided an important forum for an interdisciplinary conversation at the intersection of medicine, law, and the medical humanities – a meeting point that requires repeat visits to realise the insights that working across these disciplinary boundaries might afford. A full report of the conference can be accessed here

Human trafficking: IOM training for Free State TIP task team

Human trafficking IOM

Upon request of the International Organisation for Migration, Prof Beatri Kruger, research fellow of the FSCHR, presented a training session to the Free State Trafficking in Persons Task Team. The Task Team consists of representatives of various state departments, including the Hawks, South African Police Services, National Prosecuting Authority, and the Departments of Justice, Social Development, and Health. The training took place from 21 to 23 January 2020. The aim of the training was to update the team on relevant South African legislation, court cases, and trends relating to human trafficking.

Community engagement newsletter - September 2019

Events hosted under the Human Rights Ambassadors Programme 2018/2019

  • Now we are free - Human rights arts festival
  • #BurnthePhobia: Integration of international students with South Africans via human rights – Discussion on xenophobia, human dignity, inclusivity, diversity and non-discrimination
  • Dignity drive: Being treated with dignity is a basic human right, not an optional extra – Discussion on human dignity (House Akasia)
  • Inclusivity and human dignity – Poetry performances, runway show and play (House Beyers Naude)
  • Breaking stigmas – Musical performances, poetry and discussion on right to equality and non-discrimination, specifically LGBTQI-rights (House Outeniqua)
  • My Freedom, My Right! (The Expression): Artistic presentations on different freedoms (Houses Villa Bravado, Welwitschia, NJ van der Merwe)
  • My academic privacy – Discussion with report sent to SRC: Academics (House Akasia)
  • Gender, sexual equity rights and human dignity – Discussion and interactive games
  • Women’s empowerment – artistic showcase
  • Culture and heritage – presentations (House Kestell)
  • What do you understand about your right to human dignity? Discussion on the right to have your inherent dignity respected and your right to equality and non-discrimination (House Marjolein)
  • Now we are free – Discussion and presentation on different freedoms and how to respect the freedoms of others (Houses Veritas & Sonnedou)
  • Finding your voice­ – Discussion on freedom of expression (House Emily Hobhouse)
  • Dialogue on gender-based violence (House Karee)
  • Women’s day celebration (House Akasia)
  • Discussion on right to education (House Villa Bravado)
  • Interactive challenge focusing on discrimination based on colour (House Kestell)
  • Public speaking competition on women’s rights (House Harmony)
  • Various teacans at residences around the central theme of human dignity


3rd International Conference on the Right to Development

The 3rd International Conference on the Right to Development was hosted by the Free State Centre for Human Rights on 25 – 27 September 2019 on the theme ‘The right to development and natural resource ownership’. The international conference series on the right to development started in 2017 with the aim to advance the right to development both within Africa and internationally. This year’s session follows two previous ones that held at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria in September 2017 and August 2018, respectively. 

The three day conference offered the forum to a range of participants from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to interact and share knowledge on research outputs, which extensively explored questions relating to how natural resource ownership could contribute to the realisation of the right to development. The conference registered a total of 35 participants from different countries, including from South Africa, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and the United Kingdom. The Keynote Address was delivered by Prof John C Mubangizi, Dean of the Faculty of Law at University of the Free State.

The international conference series on the right to development is jointly organised and co-sponsored by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, University of South Africa and the Free State Centre for Human Rights, University of the Free Sate. In the three years running, it has progressively established a steady track record of publications, including journal articles and edited volumes. The next (fourth) conference is intended to be much bigger and planned to take place in Kigali, Rwanda in 2021.



12th annual Deleuze and Guattari academic camp and conference

Dr Liezl Dick, postdoctoral fellow, attended the 12th annual Deleuze and Guattari academic camp hosted by Royal Holloway, University of London (United Kingdo,) from 1 to 5 July 2019. The camp was attended by scholars and practitioners working with Deleuze and Guattari’s theory and concepts. Seven camp instructors presented 19 classes over five days, providing attendees with insights into the concepts and ideas of these 20th century philosophers.

From 8-10 July 2019, Liezl attended the 12th annual Deleuze and Guattari conference, organised by Nathan Widder. The conference theme was ‘From Sense to Machinic Becoming’.  “The year of the conference marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Deleuze’s The Logic of Sense, of Guattari writing his review of Deleuze’s work, ‘Machine and Structure’, and of the pair’s first face-to-face meeting.  The conference theme aimed to capture this important point of transition that sees in particular the close of Deleuze’s earlier solo career and the beginning of Deleuze and Guattari’s collaboration that not only sees their break with structuralism and psychoanalysis but their explorations of whole new areas of aesthetics, ethics, politics, science, and more.” Liezl presented a paper “Stuck in a racialized space? An ethnography of territorialised subjectivities at a higher education female residence at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein” at the conference.

Running concurrently to and unaffiliated with the above mentioned event, The Reverse side: Guattari, Deleuze and institutional thought, also took place from 8th–10th July 2019, at Royal Holloway, University of London. Organised by Edward Thornton, “This series of workshops, talks, and interventions seeks to examine the institutional politics of contemporary academia and to explore the positive alternatives to university life suggested by the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari”. Liezl attended this event too, and participated in workshops and conversation concerned with the transformation of stifling institutional conditions worldwide.

The academic camp, official conference and critical ‘reverse side’ event, provided her with the opportunity to connect with extraordinary thinkers and practitioners from all over the globe; inspiring Liezl to continue and intensify her work on sustainable solutions for local problems concerning critical scholarly engagement, transformation and social cohesion in South Africa.



Book: Perspectives on the Right to Development


Carol Ngang, postdoctoral fellow at the Centre, has co-edited a book, Perspectives on the Right to Development, published in May 2019, with Serges Djoyou Kamga and Vusi Gumede. The book explores the complex nature of the right to development from a diversified angle, including from conceptual, thematic, country and regional points of view. The contributions draw inspiration from the fact that in the last number of decades, development thinking has significantly shifted towards rights-based approaches to development, including responsiveness to the fact that development in itself is a human right guaranteed to be enjoyed by all peoples. Conceived in this light with the purpose to eclipse dominant economic growth approaches to development, the various perspectives on the right to development articulated therein seek to locate the developmentalist discourse within the framework of people-centred development programming, necessitating appropriate policy measures to ensure the constant improvement in human well-being and the attainment of better living standards for all peoples. The book is intended for researchers/academics, development practitioners and policy makers who desire an in-depth understanding of the right to development as it applies across all sectors of society. 

A digital copy of the book can be downloaded from the Pretoria University Law Press (PULP) website at the following link: http://www.pulp.up.ac.za/edited-collections/perspectives-on-the-right-to-development         


Gender collective: critical conversations series


A public dialogue on sexual consent, held on Monday 15 April as part of the Social Justice week. The dialogue was introduced by Olga Barends, a CUT FM presenter and rape survivor, who is also a fervent HIV/ AIDS activist. Through the sharing of her touching story, Olga exposed the failure of the legal system, harmful preconceptions of society and the need to shift the focus from consent to coercive circumstances. The other discussants at the dialogue were forensic pathology student Zintle Mnqayi and post-doctoral fellow at the UFS Centre for Human Rights Isolde de Villiers.

At the conclusion of the dialogue, participants expressed the need for continuing the conversation and specifically to give it an academic focus. This culminated in the establishment of a gender collective that meets on a weekly basis to discuss gender-related texts. The gender collective, consisting mostly of students from different faculties, has since met regularly and have, among other things, had discussions on rape myths as set out by Pumla Gqola in her book Rape a South African Nightmare and operation of these rape myths on the UFS campus; attended the gripping play, I turned into my grandmother; and discussed the UFS Sexual Harrassment, sexual misconduct and sexual violence policy, award-winning South African author Mohale Mashigo’s short story BnB in Bloem from her latest anthology Intruders, Madhumita Lahiri’s article, Crimes and corrections: Bride burners, corrective rapists and other black misogynists and readings by Matshilo Motsei (Kanga in the Kangaroo court) and Redi Tlabi (Khwezi).


Annual iSERP workshop

Annual iSERP workshop

Participants in the annual iSERP workshop hosted by the Centre at the Nelson Mandela Memorial on Naval Hill during a spatial justice tour of Bloemfontein. The tour was arranged by Isolde de Villiers and Liezl Dick (far right) and presented by Kgosi Mocwagae of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at UFS (standing on the wall).

The Centre hosted the annual workshop of the International Socio-economic Rights Project (iSERP) from 9 to 12 May 2019 on the Bloemfontein campus of the UFS. iSERP is an international network of academics, lawyers and activists interested in the implementation and enforcement of socio-economic rights. The theme of the 2019 workshop was ‘Alternative visions of property rights’. Apart from a series of panel discussions on aspects of this theme, the workshop featured a discussion between Dr Tshepo Madlingozi (Director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits and a member of the Centre’s Advisory Board) and Judge Dennis Davis (Judge of the Western Cape High Court and extraordinary professor at the Centre) of Tembeka Ngcukaitobi’s book, The Land is Ours; an informal presentation by Judge Davis on a judicial view of the pace of transformation in South Africa; a public lecture (presented in the Naval Hill Planetarium) by Liberian lawyer and environmental activist Alfred Brownell on the struggle for environmental rights in Liberia; and a spatial justice tour of Bloemfontein and surrounds. Participants from Kenya, Colombia, Chile, India, Hong Kong, Canada, the US and South Africa attended.



Home/City/World: International workshop on housing

International workshop on housing

Back row, from the left: Prof Danie Brand (Director of the Free State Centre for Human Rights), workshop co-organiser Helen Carr (Kent University), and Ellen Maphalane (home owner) with workshop participants during a visit to Ms Maphalane’s home, an example of alternatively constructed housing in Bloemfontein.

Planners, geographers, architects, art historians, social activists, and lawyers met in October 2018 during a workshop at the University of the Free State to discuss what a home constitutes, and how best to provide and protect homes in a sustainable and inclusive manner in 21st century cities. The workshop was hosted by the Free State Centre for Human Rights on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Participants presented papers and engaged in discussions on home-related topics as diverse as Hannah Arendt’s conception of the intimate and political spheres; Henri Lefebvre’s notion of a right to the city; alternative, environmentally conscious building methods; court cases dealing with the concept of home; the right to a domestic garden as a component of the right to a home; and constructing the home as a subversive and empowering alternative when it comes to giving birth.

The workshop forms part of a collaborative research project between the FSCHR, the Kent Law School (Kent University, Canterbury, UK) and the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Belo Horizonte, Brazil). The same group of participants met for a follow-up workshop at Kent University in the UK in February 2019, and will conclude with a third workshop in Belo Horizonte in Brazil in September 2019, with the project culminating in the publication of an inter-disciplinary book containing the papers workshopped at the three events.



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E: law@ufs.ac.za

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UFS Bloemfontein Campus

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