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Christoper John Robert Dugard

John Dugard was a Professor of Law at this University from 1969 to 1998. His writing and teaching put him at the forefront of the liberal movement in South Africa and his expertise in international law has made a considerable contribution to it’s recognition as serious academic discipline in this country.

Professor Dugard was born in Fort Beaufort in 1936. He obtained BA and LLB degrees from the University of Stellenbosch and, later, an LLB and LLD from the University of Cambridge, to which were added honorary doctorates from the University of Natal and Cape Town. Dugard was admitted as an advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa and has practiced as such from the early 1960s until the present. He was appointed senior counsel in 1998. His contribution to Wits as a Professor of Law for nearly 30 years is inestimatable. His expertise in international law and his commitment to human rights made him one of the best-loved and most highly regarded of this University’s academics. Dugard served as Dean of the Wits Law Faculty from 1975 to 1977 and as Director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), of which he was a founder, for 13 years thereafter. CALS was primarily engaged in public education and litigation in the fields of human rights, labour law and laws affecting the black community. It is largely thanks to his directorship that CALS has become a long-lasting and influential organization for social change.

As an academic leader in the School of Law John Dugard was best known for his commitment to the needs and interests of students and for mentoring younger academics. He encouraged, assisted and promoted their work tirelessly and with humour and compassion. Generations of lawyers are indebted to him for his interest and wisdom. He has written several books, of which the most notable are: The South West Africa/Namibia Dispute (1973), Human Rights and the South African Legal Order (1978) and International Law - A South African Perspective (2ed 2000), the leading book on its subject in South Africa.

In 1998 John Dugard left Wits to take up a professorship in Public International Law at the University of Leiden, a position he still occupies. He is a Professor Emeritus of Wits, an Honorary Professorial Research Fellow in the Wits School of Law and Honorary Professor at the Universities of Pretoria and the Western Cape. Through the years he has been a Visiting Professor at several universities in the United States, Europe and Australia. From 1995 to 1996 he was the Arthur Goodhart Professor of Legal Science, University of Cambridge - a singular honour - to which was added his appointment as Director of the Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law, Cambridge, a position he held until the end of 1997. He has acted as consultant or counsel in many important South African cases involving questions of international and constitutional law.

Dugard’s expertise and human rights record were recognized politically by the fact that he was invited to participate in the constitutional talks that brought about a democratic South Africa. This involved him in negotiations relating to the interim Constitution of 1993, when he was a member of the Technical Committee for Investigating the Repeal or Amendment of Legislation Impeding Free Political Activity and Discriminatory Legislation. He went on, as a member of the Technical Committee to advise the Constitutional Assembly on the drafting of the Bill of Rights, to participate in the negotiations relating to the final Constitution of 1996. Dugard has acquired a first-rate international reputation in the field of International Law. Since 1997 he has been a member of the UN International Law Commission, the body responsible for the codification and progressive development of International Law. He was re-elected as a member in 2001 for a second five-year term, receiving the highest number of votes for an African candidate. In 2002 he sat as an Ad Hoc Judge in the International Court of Justice in a dispute between the DRC and Rwanda and has recently again been appointed as an Ad Hoc Judge in a boundary dispute between Malaysia and Singapore.

He is a Special Rapporteur to the United Nations on the subject of Diplomatic Protections. He has chaired the Human Rights Commission of Enquiry into Violations International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and was Special Rapporteur to the United Nations on the topic. He is a member of various international law associations. Among them is the prestigious Institute de Droit International, an association of international lawyers limited to about 130 members, all of whom are elected by existing members. Dugard is the first and only South African member.

John Dugard has had an illustrious career. He has contributed significantly not only to Wits and to South Africa but, through his involvement in the evolution of International Law, to the wider world. It is with great pride and pleasure that the University confers on Christopher Robert John Dugard the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa.