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​The South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (SAIFAC) is a centre of the University of Johannesburg and a leading research centre in South Africa producing advanced research in its focus areas. SAIFAC’s vision is to be an internationally recognized centre of research excellence in its key focus areas of constitutional, human rights, public and international law.
SAIFAC’s mission is to produce advanced research in its focus areas, to foster collaboration and engagement between academics and members of the legal community across South Africa and internationally, and to advance constitutionalism, human rights and the rule of law in Southern Africa.




Africa has some of the fastest growing economies in the world and a rich concentration of mineral wealth. Yet, these assets have failed thus far to transform the lives of millions of Africa’s people, still beset by grinding poverty. What can be done to address these problems?

Date: 16 May 2019

Time: 17:30 for 18:00-20:00

Venue: Women’s Gaol, Constitution Hill (Underground parking available)

RSVP to Naomi Hove 

Detailed info on the event: Saifac Africa Forum _ DevelopmentinAfrica.pdf

Call for papers

SAIFAC invites you to submit an abstract for a paper on Justice for Victims of the Gross Human Rights Violation of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, a conference to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa on 27 – 29 November 2019.  The deadline for submission of abstracts is 31 March 2019 (

The central question of the conference is whether the international legal framework currently adequately addresses sexual and gender-based violence by achieving justice for its countless victims. The focus of the conference will be on the achievement of justice for victims based on three main themes, namely accountability (individual criminal prosecution and state responsibility); reparation for victims; and the positive role that international law can play in addressing the culture of denial and social stigma attached to these violations, and in restoring the dignity of its victims.

The conference is co-organised and supported by: SAIFAC (the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law), a Centre of the University of Johannesburg; SARCIL (the South African Research Chair in International Law); and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung – Rule of Law Program for Sub Saharan Africa. 

Saifac Gender Violence Conference.pdf

Past highlights

When will democracy come to Cameroon?

On May 17 2018, the American ambassador to Cameroon, Peter Henry Barlerin, encouraged President Biya, who has been head of state since 1982 to step down. In the US ambassador's opinion, Paul Biya must "think about his heritage and the way he wants the history books, which will be read by future generations, to remember him". After this encounter, he was severely criticized for interfering in the internal matters of Cameroon. Yet, what the ambassador said is supported by many Cameroonians, who believe Biya should retire. Nonetheless, Biya presented his candidature for reelection. While Cameroonians widely believed that professor Kamto won the highest number of votes (after electoral returns demonstrated this), President Biya was declared winner by the Constitutional Council. Could Professor Kamto's victory have been stolen by the Constitutional Council in cahoots with government?

Cameroon currently faces many challenges. It has the Boko Haram threat in the North as well as a movement that has development to separate the English-speaking provinces from the French-speaking provinces. The constitution is widely perceived to be illegitimate and there is deep suspicion and lack of trust in the ELECAM (the electoral commission), whose director and chairperson are directly appointed by the current President. The Constitutional Council is perceived to completely lack independence with about three of its members who are still active members of the ruling party.

SAIFAC, a centre of the University of Johannesburg, is held a panel discussion in the aftermath of the recent show of elections to investigate a range of important questions:

  • Are the election results credible?
  • What flaws were evident in the conduct of the elections which raise questions about whether they are free and fair?
  • Can the Constitutional Council be considered an impartial arbiter?
  • What measures are necessary to transform Cameroon into a functional democracy?
  • Should Cameroon remain a united political community or should it separate?
  • Does France play any role in perpetuating the current malaise in Cameroon?  

Key speakers for this event were Ms Monique Eleanor Kwachou Tangah (Doctoral Research Fellow, University of the Free State), Ms Karine Guda (Chairperson, Southern Cameroons Congress of the People) and Mr Polycarpe Feussi (Lecturer, Pearson Institute for Higher Education, PhD candidate, University of Johannesburg).

Cameroon election.pdf

The book 'Building a Business and Human Rights Treaty: Context and Contours' was launched at the United Nations library on Wednesday 25 October 2017. 

The book is co-edited by Prof David Bilchitz, Director of the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (SAIFAC), a centre of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) together with Prof Surya Deva, Associate Professor at the City University of Hong Kong. The book brings together leading academics from around the world to consider the way in which a new treaty on business and human rights should be developed and drafted.         

The growing recognition of the potential impact of corporations upon fundamental rights has led to a long-awaited process in which states are discussing a binding treaty on business and human rights. Such a treaty would be novel, focusing on how powerful agents can be regulated across international borders to advance the realisation of human rights. This book seeks to rise to the challenge of envisaging what the content of such a treaty would look like. It includes chapters debating questions such as the nature and scope of corporate obligations, the obligations of the state to protect individuals both within their territory and without, and how to advance access to remedies for victims of corporate human rights violations. Many chapters include draft provisions for a future treaty, thus catalysing debate as to what such an instrument should look like and seek to accomplish.         

The was launched at the United Nations Library from 13h15-14h45 during the week-long meeting of the Inter-governmental Working Group on Business and Human Rights which is tasked with drafting the treaty.


Call by Human Rights Organisations for Urgent Intervention by the South African government to stop gross human rights violations in the Republic of South Sudan 

SAIFAC and SARCIL made a submission to parliament on the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act Repeal Bill. The argument was that the bill and the justifications provided for it are irrational and violate core foundational features of the South African Constitution.
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