About The Mandela Institute

Who we are?

The Mandela Institute is a centre in the School of Law of the University of the Witwatersrand. It comprises a small full-time staff and affiliated experts in the Wits School of Law, as well as visiting and adjunct academics with high standing and extensive experience from the legal profession, civil society, industry or the community.

Nelson Mandela was a symbol of South Africa's transition to democracy during the 1990s and beyond and the first President of the democratic South Africa graciously allowed the Institute to be named for him. While 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 economy. However, a growing economy also implies expanding the country’s environmental, energy and extractive footprint.

In order to grow its economy, South Africa must compete in a fast-changing world economy, a global economic order where investment moves rapidly with little if any sense of constitutional patriotism or nationality. In the light of these imperatives the Wits School of Law launched the Mandela Institute in 2000 to honour the contribution of Nelson Mandela to the transformation of South Africa.


Economic success depends in significant part on the South African, Southern African and African legal systems having the capacity to engage with the world economic order on the basis of a deep level of legal knowledge and skilled lawyers, government officials, civil society, community leaders and the private sector. The Institute's goals are to enable South Africa and Southern Africa to take a regionally integrated approach to engaging with, and aligning with the global economic legal order by developing laws and policies that respond to local needs while acknowledging global pressures.


The Mandela Institute conducts legal and policy research, and offers basic and advanced teaching and capacity building in different areas of global economic law. This is the law at the interface of South Africa, Africa and the global economy. It includes corporate governance, law and sustainability, mining law, competition law, international trade and investment law, IP law, banking and finance services regulation, telecommunications law, international dispute resolution and global business transactions and regulation. Consistent with the legacy of Nelson Mandela, the Institute takes a transformative and African perspective on these areas with a view to enabling a critical engagement with the global economic legal order.

In developing a new generation of skilled professionals in these areas, the Institute operates from South Africa's unique position in Africa and with a pan-African vision.