While South Africa's first democratic election in 1994 marked the country's political transition, it was equally evident that economic transformation would be necessary. The achievement of socio-economic rights in the Constitution's Bill of Rights cannot be successful without a strong and growing economy.
In order to develop and grow its economy, South Africa must compete and trade in a fast-changing world economy, a global economic order where investment moves rapidly with little if any sense of constitutional patriotism or nationality.
The Institute's goals are premised on the perception that South Africa's success is critically dependent on the economic development of the Southern African region and the renewal of the African continent. Economic success depends in significant part on the South African, Southern African and African legal systems having the capacity to engage in the world economic order on the basis of a deep level of legal knowledge and skilled lawyers, government officials, community leaders and private sector managers.
In the light of these imperatives the Wits Law School launched the Mandela Institute in 2000 to honour the contribution of Mr Nelson Mandela to the transformation of South Africa.
The Mandela Institute conducts research, develops policy and offers basic and advanced teaching in different areas of international economic law. This is the law which connects South Africa and the emerging world to the global political economy. It includes corporate governance, competition and international trade law, intellectual property law, banking and finance law, telecommunications law, international dispute resolution and global business regulation.
The Institute also conducts teaching, training and capacity-building in areas of law and policy which are domestic in operation but are impacted by global developments, such as refugee law, HIV/Aids law and mining and mining tax law.
In developing a new generation of skilled professionals in these areas, the Mandela Institute operates from South Africa's unique position in Africa and with a pan-African vision.
The Mandela Institute comprises a small full-time staff and other affiliated staff in the Wits Law School, as well as adjuncts and other appointees with high standing in the legal profession, industry or the community.