On 24 September 2022, the Human Rights Ambassadors of the Free State Centre for Human Rights celebrated Heritage Day at Sunflower Children's Hospice.



Dr Carol Chi Ngang, an NRF category C-2 rated researcher and research fellow at the Free State Centre for Human Rights, University of the Free State was appointed as UNDP Human Rights Research Chair, National University of Lesotho where he is currently affiliated. The appointment was done on 20 April 2022 and the inauguration took place at the National University of Lesotho campus on 12 August 2022.

With a focus on research, curriculum development and community engagement, the Research Chair is envisaged to generate policy-oriented research on various aspects of human rights, particularly with regard to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Lesotho and to provide requisite academic support to various stakeholders in the field of human rights in Lesotho.

The Research Chair is funded by the United Nations Tripartite Partnership (UNTPP) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (Lesotho).    


Alarmed by reports of increasing attacks against Muslims in India, three eminent human rights experts formed the Panel of Independent International Experts to examine alleged violations of international law and India’s obligations towards victims. On 24 June 2022, the Free State Centre for Human Rights hosted the launch of the final report. The full report can be read here - Report Final.


1656930614508Mr Tshepang Mahlatsi, student assistant at the Free State Centre for Human  Rights was chosen as part of the Free State Premier’s Top 50 Most Inspirational  Youth programme. The Programme recognises young Free Staters who are  working hard anywhere in the world, lifting the flag of the Free State while at the  same time inspiring other young people to strive for the best. He was honoured for  the work he has been doing through his NGO, Next Chapter, which strives for  mental health advocacy and awareness in university spaces and the general community.


Tamsin Metelerkamp, "Tranformative politics" needed in SA's fiscal arena to address drastic inequality (Daily Maverick, 26 May 2022). Read here.


On Monday, 30 May 2022, our guest speaker, Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr John Jeffery, provided a lecture on the topic “Social Media and the Limits on Expressing Yourself”. Under the theme of artistic freedom of expression, the Odeion String Quartet played two short works on the “Quartet of Peace Instruments”. Since October 2021, the Odeion String Quartet of the UFS has become the new custodians of the “Quartet of Peace Instruments” . The four string instruments represent South Africa’s four Nobel Laureates namely Luthuli, Tutu, De Klerk and Mandela and symbolise Freedom, Peace, Reconciliation and Hope.

Click here to watch recording of the event


Prof Liebenberg (the HF Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law and Distinguished Professor in the Faculty of Law of the University of Stellenbosch and an extraordinary professor at the FSCHR since 2021) was awarded the highest possible rating as scholar by the National Research Foundation (an A1 rating), in recognition of her standing as an international leader in her field of human rights law. In addition to confirming her standing as an academic, the rating marks the extraordinarily creative, imaginative and committed contribution that Prof Liebenberg has over many years made through her scholarship and teaching to the transformation of our society to a more just and caring one.

Judge Davis (recently retired as Judge of the High Court and Professor of Law at the University of Cape Town, and an extraordinary professor at the FSCHR since 2019) received an honorary doctorate (LLD honoris causa) from the University of the Free State, on nomination by the FSCHR. The honorary degree recognises Judge Davis’ enormous contribution through scholarship and judicial work to the continuing liberation of South Africa, over a lifetime of distinguished service. Judge Davis is now doctor honoris causa twice over. Few are as deserving.

To both the FSCHR extends its deepest congratulations.


In 2021, Dr Georgia du Plessis, research fellow at the Free State Centre for Human Rights, received the NRF Y1-rating. In "NRF language" this means that Dr Du Plessis qualifies as a young researcher (within 5 years from her PhD) who is recognised by  those who reviewed her application as having the potential (demonstrated by research products) to establish herself as a researcher with the potential to become a future leader in her field."


In celebration of Human Rights Day 2022, The Free State Centre for Human Rights hosted the following human rights events:

1. Debate: Human rights, universities and mandatory vaccination policies

On 18 March 2022, the Centre hosted a debate by the candidate attorneys of the University of the Free State Law Clinic. The candidate attorneys participated in teams to provide arguments for and against the implementation of mandatory vaccination policies at institutions of higher learning. Adv Tseliso Thipanyane (CEO of the South African Human Rights Commission) was the guest speaker and provided a comprehensive overview of the position of the South African Human Rights Commission on mandatory vaccination policies. Please click here to watch recording of the debate.


2. Human rights quiz

The Centre ran an online quiz to test the human rights knowledge of the staff and students of the University of the Free State. Three winners will be announced that will receive a prize of R 500 each.


3. Virtual art exhibition

The UFS Art Gallery, in cooperation with the Free State Centre for Human Rights, rehosted the virtual tour of the Images for Human Rights print portfolio. The portfolio consists of 29 fine art prints by South African artists depicting the 27 sections of the South African Bill of Rights. The portfolio was produced as part of an initiative by the Artist for Human Rights Trust after the adoption of our nations’ Bill of Rights on 8 May 1996 by the South African Constitutional Assembly. The portfolio is on permanent display at the Free State Centre for Human Rights.


4. South campus activation

On Wednesday, 23 March 2022, the human rights ambassadors of the South Campus residences (Toka, Liberty, and Legae) hosted a human rights awareness-raising event for all South Campus students. The evening included an art exhibition, poetry reading, musical performance and a play depicting human rights violations as a result of gender-based violence. The event attracted more than 300 students.



5. Human rights pledge

On Wednesday, 23 March 2022, the human rights ambassadors of the Free State Centre for Human Rights hosted a pledge-signing and activation campaign. UFS staff and students were invited to commit themselves to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights, within and outside the UFS community. Representatives from other UFS structures and organisations joined the Free State Centre for Human Rights in committing themselves to the fulfilment of the pledge. These included Ms Martie Miranda (Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support), Mr Luvuyo Jacobs (CSRC president), and Mr Delisile Mngadi (Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice). Read the full pledge here.


6. Residence art exhibition
UFS residences were invited to submit artwork depicting their vision of human rights. Art pieces were displayed at the Thakaneng bridge on 24 March 2022. Houses Armentum, Tswelopele, Harmony, Arista, Beyers Naude, Khayalami, Legatum, Roosmaryn, Sonnedou, and the Health sciences residence were announced as the winners of the exhibition.


Human rights ambassadors residence events

The Human Rights Ambassadors of the FSCHR hosted several events for residence members in commemoration of Human Rights Day 2022. A series of events kicked-off with a human rights treasure hunt and tea can organised by the residences of Central college. On 21 March 2022, House Roosmaryn hosted a game session and House Vergeet-my-Nie orgainsed a discussion on the topic of human rights and social media. On the same day, House Conlaures hosted a bonfire as a platform to discuss student's right to expression within universities. The Health Sciences residence arranged a discussion and critical analysis of human rights violations in movies on 25 March 2022. The week ended with a human rights awareness-raising event, All human, all equal, hosted by Houses Lehakwe and Tswelopele on 26 March 2022.

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Dr Angel-Cabo, who teaches law at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia, will serve on the Constitutional Court for a term of eight years. She was elected for the position by the Colombian Senate. Her appointment on the court means that for the first time in its history, the Colombian Constitutional Court will have a majority of women justices. The Free State Centre for Human Rights congratulates Dr Angel-Cabo heartily with this fantastic achievement and looks forward to the contribution she will make in this position to the promotion of human rights, constitutionalism and justice in Colombia. We are very proud to be and remain associated with her


Human Rights Violations Against LGBTQI Individuals within South African Public Sector Services by Dr C Westman (Postdoctoral fellow, Free State Centre for Human Rights)...Read


Dr Muhammad Bello, a doctoral student of the Free State Center for Human Rights and Department of Mercantile Law, University of the Free State, was named as runner-up in the Christof Heyns Memorial Thesis Award for his doctoral thesis The place of socio-economic rights in sovereign debt governance under the supervision of Prof Elizabeth Snyman-Van Deventer and Dr Annelie de Man ... Read the article


IMG-20210908-WA0000 (003)FSCHR decries violence against women and children and highlights the urgent need for Ubuntu and transformation ... Watch the video here


During the first term of 2021 the Human Rights Ambassadors hosted a number of online and on-campus events to raise awareness of human rights. This included a Human Rights Week campaign in celebration of Human Rights Day (21 March 2021). Ambassadors handed out pamphlets on campus and shared videos and posters promoting human rights on social media platforms. One of these videos can be viewed here: Human Rights Day 2021.
Other exciting events included:
  • Presentation and dialogue session on the content of section 29 of the Constitution (right to basic education)
  • Awareness-raising campaign on gender-based violence
  • Dialogue session on rape culture and the different forms it can take
  • Movie night highlighting where human rights come from
  • Freedom Day (27 April) quiz
  • Various dialogues sessions on the importance of Freedom Day
  • Candle light ceremony in celebration of Youth Day (16 June)
  • Dialogue session with UFS Protection Services on the right to protest and freedom of assembly
  • Dialogue session and poster campaign around LGBTQI rights and the importance of pronouns
  • Campus-wide Youth Day quiz

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Free State Centre for Human Rights, University of the Free State | 1-2 November 2021

THEME: Right to Development and Illicit Financial Flows from Africa
The economic performance of the African continent for the past few years features among the most competitive economies in the world. One would have expected this performance to bring about social-economic change, allowing people to achieve their human potential attached to the idea of development but this has not been the case. Development is a broad concept, for not only does it include sound economic performance and fair distribution of benefits, but it also requires the improvement of living conditions of individual citizens through the provision of quality, accessible and affordable healthcare services, housing, infrastructure and education — key areas for human capital development. The gap between recent economic achievements on the continent and its state of generalised underdevelopment coupled with rampant poverty, corruption, prolonged economic crisis and political instabilities signals an issue with resource allocations and inequities in distribution. 

How to understand that despite such economic performance, Africa remains one of the poorest continents in the world, with one-third of its population undernourished and millions with no access to clean water, electricity, education, healthcare and infrastructure? The continent currently sits at the bottom of the most major development indices, with the 2016 Human Development Report placing the vast majority of African countries below 150. The 2017 Gender Equality Index, another important indicator for development, finds the highest ranked African country (Algeria) at 63rd and Botswana the next highest ranked at 108th. Various factors are at the origin of such a situation, including among others, weak governance and state structures, lack of transformative leadership and more importantly the proliferation of illicit financial flows (IFFs). Recent research shows that the latter constitutes a key disabler of development in general and the Right to Development in particular. In 2015, a report by the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa headed by former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, showed that the continent loses an average of $50 billion yearly through IFFs; a finding that was echoed 3 years later in a similar report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It is crucial to bear in mind that this figure increases at a rate of 20.2% per year, according to estimates by Global Financial Integrity (GFI). There is a relationship of cause and effect between IFFs and failed initiatives to realise the Right to Development in Africa, which ultimately affects the realisation of the United Nations Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development and the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063. These reaffirm the Rio Principles of Common, but differentiated responsibilities, the right to development and equity, mutual accountability and responsibility and policy space for nationally tailored policies and programmes on the continent. 

In 2016, the continent received $41 billion towards public development, while $50 billion was being taken out through IFFs. The systematic theft of resources through IFFs by multinational corporations and criminal networks that could otherwise contribute to poverty alleviation is a hard blow to the idea of people-driven development in line with the Pan African Vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa proclaimed by Agenda 2063. Given its dire impacts on development initiatives, it is imperative to pay close attention to this scourge and its devastating consequences on development initiatives across the continent. How can one explain the continued proliferation of IFFs from Africa in an environment where a number of international instruments addressing this phenomenon is available? 

Following this background, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, University of the Free State in collaboration with the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria and the National University of Lesotho present the Fourth International Conference on the Right to Development on the thematic of ‘Right to Development and Illicit Financial Flows from Africa’. The conference will bring together experts from various fields, including academics, emerging researchers, practitioners and policy designers to explore the issue of the right to development and illicit financial flows from a critical, interdisciplinary, and contextually engaged perspectives. 

We welcome contributions that focus on the following sub-themes or any related themes: 
• The impacts of illicit financial flows on the realisation of the right to development; 
• Transnational crimes and the right to development in Africa; 
• Multinational corporations, illicit financial flows and the right to development in Africa; 
• Illicit financial flows, Agenda 2063 and the right to development in Africa; 
• The UN Convention against corruption, illicit financial flows and the right to development in Africa; 
• The AU Convention Against Corruption, illicit financial flows and the right to development in Africa. 

The two-day virtual conference is scheduled to take place on 1 - 2 November 2021. There will be opportunities for individual and /or group presentations, organised in various panels. Contributions will be considered for an edited volume or special issue to be published in an accredited and peer reviewed scholarly journal in early 2022. 


Individual presentations: Submit a short abstract of no more than 300 words and a short CV/bio (150 words) to Gerard Kamga at before or on 10 September 2021.
Notification of accepted abstracts and panels for the conference: 24 September 2021. 
Online Conference: 1-2 November 2021. 
Submission of full selected papers for double blind peer-review: 23 December 2021. 


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and current restrictions, the conference will unfold in a virtual format. 


The Human Rights Ambassadors of the FSCHR celebrated Women’s Day across the residences of the UFS through a variety of events. This included a dialogue session on women’s rights and the history of Women’s Day (9 August).The events that occurred in 1956, what led to the protest, the leaders of the protest and the outcomes of the protests were all discussed in the dialogue. The second segment of the dialogue covered gender-based violence and feminism. House Kestell also hosted an art competition. Below are some of the submissions received:

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‘Africa / Human Rights / Transformation’ – A conversation with Johan Froneman, Dhaya Pillay, and Toyin Falola

On 16 March 2021, the FSCHR, in collaboration with the UFS Department of Public Law, hosted a panel discussion in celebration of Human Rights Day 2021. The panel discussed the following themes from their perspectives as judges, academics, and politically aware Africans of different hues and origins: What do Africa, human rights, and transformation have to do with one another? Are human rights instruments for transformation in Africa, neo-colonial impositions, or the last refuge of the privileged? Is transformation a desirable goal for Africa, or a red herring to make us forget about the real work – decolonisation? 

Please find a recording of the session below.

Download the session here

Human Rights Ambassadors commemorate Human Rights Day

On 21 March 2021, the Human Rights Ambassadors of the FSCHR commemorated Human Rights Day by sharing videos and posters with off- and on-campus residence members. A Human Rights Week campaign was also held on the Bloemfontein campus of the UFS. Booklets and pamphlets were handed out to inform students about the Centre and engage on the topic of human rights. 

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The Free State Centre for Human Rights is shocked by and mourns the death, on Sunday 28 March 2021, of our colleague and friend in human rights, Prof Christof Heyns

Christof occupied an enormously important place in the South African human rights landscape. A Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria (UP), he was a founding member and later Director of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria; Dean of the UP Faculty of Law; and founder and until his death, Director of the UP Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa. He also served as United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions (2010 to 2016) and as a member of the UN Human Rights Committee (2017 to 2020).

He was a leading scholar of human rights law, publishing widely and in particular on regional human rights law and the African human rights system; teaching regularly at Oxford University and the American University in Washington, and serving as a Humboldt Fellow at Heidelberg University; a Fulbright Fellow at Harvard University; and a board member and fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study.

However, what we will perhaps remember Christof most fondly for is the vision, energy and spirit with which he thought up, planned and then created a range of important human rights-related initiatives, either on his own or collaborating with others. The UP Centre for Human Rights and Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa; the All-African Human Rights Moot Court Competition; the LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation; the Pretoria University Law Press; the African Human Rights Law Reports; the African Human Rights Law Journal and many more, bear his imprint.

Our thoughts are with his family, Fearika and Willemien, Adam and Renée, and his many friends, colleagues, and students. He will be sorely missed.

Read: Human Rights and Transformation in Africa

An opinion article by Prof Toyin Falola, Extraordinary Professor of Human Rights in the Free State Centre for Human Rights City Press

Read: Professionals working to combat child abuse face a tough new world under Covid-19 

An opinion article by Dr Marcel van der Watt, Research Fellow at the Free State Centre for Human Rights Daily Maverick 

The Free State Centre for Human Rights welcomes the 2021 intake for its Interdisciplinary Master’s Degree in Human Rights

Masters brochureOn 1 March 2021, the Free State Centre for Human Rights welcomed the fourth annual cohort of students admitted to the Interdisciplinary Master’s Degree in Human Rights. This year, a group of 21 students selected from a pool of more than 160 applications took up offers of admission and have started their studies. This number continues the trajectory of increase in student numbers that the Centre has managed over the last three years – from an initial group of 11 students to 21 this year.

A key feature of the Interdisciplinary Master's Degree in Human Rights is its capacity to accommodate students and professionals from any academic background. This year the Centre counts lawyers and law students, psychologists, social activists, municipal workers, and people coming from the fields of philosophy, technology, and engineering among its students.

During a virtual session at the start of the first block week of virtual teaching in the programme, the class of 2021 was welcomed by Profs John Mubangizi, Karin van Marle (Dean and Vice Dean of the Faculty of Law), and Danie Brand, Director of the Free State Centre for Human Rights.

After their opening remarks, the programme commenced with its first block week teaching session, from 1 to 5 March 2021. The group will spend the first semester completing two core modules in the centre and the second semester on elective modules presented by colleagues from a range of other departments and faculties. The second year of study will be devoted to the completion of a mini-dissertation.

Gerard Emmanuel Kamdem Kamga, LLD
Coordinator Research and Postgraduate Division
Free State Centre for Human Rights


Free State Centre for Human Rights extraordinary professor, Judge Dhaya Pillay, appointed to act on the Constitutional Court of South Africa

The Free State Centre for Human Rights congratulates our extraordinary professor Judge Dhaya Pillay, on her appointment as an Acting Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Judge Pillay will serve in this capacity for the first term of our country’s highest court in 2021.

Judge Pillay has also been shortlisted for a permanent position on the Constitutional Court and will sit for interviews before the Judicial Service Commission in May 2021. She was nominated for this position by the Free State Centre for Human Rights.

Judge Pillay joins the Constitutional Court from her position as a judge on the KwaZulu-Natal High Court, where she has served since 2009. She has previously served an acting term on the Supreme Court of Appeal and was a judge on the Labour Court.

She joined the Free State Centre for Human Rights as an extraordinary professor in December 2020.

The Free State Centre for Human Rights is proud to be associated with Judge Pillay and wishes her all the best with the daunting responsibility ahead of her.

Appointment of four new extraordinary professors

It is with great pleasure and no small measure of pride that the Free State Centre for Human Rights (FSCHR) announces the appointment of four new, extraordinary professors: Judge Dhaya Pillay and Profs Loot Pretorius, Toyin Falola, and Sandra Liebenberg.

Judge Dhaya Pillay has dedicated her professional life to the pursuit of transformation through the law and has a wealth of experience as a defender of human rights. As an attorney in apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, she focussed her work on assisting political detainees during states of emergency and on other politically-related cases. She was a judge of the Labour Court from 2000 to 2010, when she was appointed to the KwaZulu-Natal High Court where she still serves. She has acted as a judge on the Supreme Court of Appeal and is a Commissioner of the Independent Electoral Commission. She is currently acting as justice of the Constitutional Court and is also shortlisted for a permanent appointment on this, South Africa’s highest court.

Judge Pillay has throughout her career also maintained a strong presence in academia. She has served as an extraordinary professor of the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria and has been a visiting academic or fellow at the University of Seattle, New York University, Oxford University, the Open University, and most recently, Harvard University.

She has also penned several academic publications over the course of her career. In April 2020 she obtained her doctorate in law (LLD) from the University of Pretoria. She is currently working on converting her thesis to a book, to be published toward the end of 2021.

After 40 years of dedicated service to the University of the Free State, Prof Jan-Loot Pretorius retired at the end of 2019. The last four of these years he served as coordinator of research and postgraduate teaching at the FSCHR. Prof Pretorius’ reputation and standing as a scholar in the field of constitutional law, human rights, and public law more generally speak for itself. He completed his LLD at the UFS in 1986 on the topic The concept of public interest and the limitation of human rights.

Over the course of his academic career, he amassed many scholarly publications in the form of books, chapters in books and journal articles, and has addressed many national and international conferences. Prof Pretorius is a regular contributor to the Employment Equity Law handbook updated annually. He has also received many honours and awards, most prominently the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation scholarship for a research project on constitutional models for employment equity at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg, Germany, which was awarded to him three times during his career. Prof Pretorius has supervised 8 doctorate degrees, 7 research masters, and 26 mini-dissertations.

Prof Sandra Liebenberg is a Distinguished Professor and holder of the HF Oppenheimer Chair in Human Rights Law at the University of Stellenbosch. As a scholar, she enjoys considerable international recognition, as attested to by her B1 NRF rating. She has published 4 books as author or editor; 32 chapters in books; and 32 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has delivered plenary or keynote presentations at numerous national and international conferences. She received her LLD from the University of Witwatersrand in 2011.

In addition to the various boards and committees she has served or serves on, Prof Liebenberg recently concluded a four-year term as a member, and from 2019 to 2020 as deputy chair, of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Prof Liebenberg is the founder of the Socio-Economic Rights Project of the Community Law Centre of the University of the Western Cape.

Prof Toyin Falola is a renowned scholar of African history and African studies. He holds the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas (Austin) where he is also a University Distinguished Teaching Professor; and the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Chair of Modern African History At-Large with Benue State University, Nigeria.

He has published, as author or editor, more than 100 scholarly books on topics such as diaspora and migration, empire and globalisation, intellectual history, international relations, religion and culture, in addition to many journal articles and chapters in books. Prof Falola has been awarded 10 honorary doctorates and has received, among many other awards, the Distinguished Africanist Award from the African Studies Association, the Ibadan Foundation Award for Professional Excellence in Scholarship, and the Cheikh Anta Diop Award for Excellence in African Studies. He served as Vice President of UNESCO’s International Scientific Committee, Slave Route Project from 2011 – 2015 and currently sits on the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellows Programme and the International Committee of the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute at UNISA.

Judge Pillay and Profs Pretorius, Liebenberg and Falola join our current group of outstanding professors: Judge and Professor Dennis Davis; Prof Gracienne Lauwers; Prof Karl Klare; Prof Lucy Williams and Prof Serges Kamga. They will, over the next three years, be actively involved in various research projects of the FSCHR and will also participate in postgraduate teaching and supervision. We look forward to our association with them.

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:         


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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