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Dr. Werner Nel

Senior Lecturer
Name: Werner Nicolaas Nel
Location: A-Ring 709 Auckland Park Kingsway Campus
Academic Law Staff, Law Senior Lecturers, Procedural Law Staff  Staff Members

Contact Details:
Tel: +27(0)11 559 2121


About Dr WN Nel

Dr Werner Nicolaas Nel obtained his LLB degree in 2008 and LLM degree (International law) in 2009 from the University of Johannesburg. In 2019 the LLD – Doctor Legum (Doctor of Laws) degree was conferred upon him by the University of Pretoria with the main dissertation focus being Religious Persecution and Religious Freedom in the context of International Criminal- and Human Rights Law. He has presented various papers at national and international conferences and published multiple peer-reviewed international journal articles with a focus on the intersection between religion and international law, and related disciplines. Werner is author of the book Grievous religious persecution: A conceptualisation of crimes against humanity of religious persecution (2021). He is the book review editor for the International Journal for Religious Freedom and former secretary of the Religious Liberty Commission, South Africa.

Werner has been associated with the University of Johannesburg as an academic staff member since 2009. He is a passionate lecturer with over 10 years of experience in teaching a variety of legal and related subjects at diverse university platforms. His core teaching competency is criminal justice (both national and international), and he currently lectures law of criminal procedure. Prior to his permanent appointment at UJ, he was a lecturer in the Department of Law, Tshwane University of Technology.


Research interests
Religion in International Law, International Criminal Law, and International Human Rights Law.

Book publication:

Accredited journal articles:

  • Conceptualising “grievous religious persecution” as a response to impunity. International Journal for Religious Freedom (IJRF) Vol 14 Issue 1-2 2021. Available at:
  • The dimensional elements of the right to freedom of religion or belief in the South African Constitution – an evaluation in light of relevant core international human rights instruments. Co-author: Dr Georgia Du Plessis. Journal for Juridical Science, Vol. 46 No. 1 (2021). Available at:
  • Die rol van godsdienstige identiteit in die bepaling van die “vervolgingsmodus” vir misdade teen die mensdom. Co-authored with Prof Christo Botha (UP). Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe: Godsdiens en die Reg. Vol 61 Issue 1, March 2021. Available at:
  • Counteractive responses to religious persecution: a selective contextualised overview. International Journal for Religious Freedom (IJRF) Vol 10 Issue 1-2 2017 “Church responses to persecution”. Available at:
  • Prosecuting Islamic extremism: Counteracting impunity for the armed jihad of the Islamic State group through international criminal justice. ISSN 2070-5484. International Journal for Religious Freedom (IJRF) Vol 7 Issue 1-2 2014 “Religious Extremism & Religious Tolerance”. Available at:
  • When can the persecution of Christians be considered as genocide or a crime against humanity? A hypothetical study on the use of international criminal law to counteract impunity for religious persecution. ISSN 2070- 5484. IJRF Vol 6 Issue 1 2013 “Researching Religious Freedom”. Available at:

Non-accredited journal articles:

  • Santa Claus, the Perennial Ageist: A Human Rights Perspective on Widespread and Systematic Age-Based Discriminatory Practices and Policies by Santa and his Elves. Santa Claus: Law, Fourth Industrial Revolution, Decolonisation and Covid-19, edited by Letlhokwa George Mpedi. Book available at:, Chapter available at:

Doctoral dissertation:

LLD – Doctor Legum (Doctor of Laws): International Criminal- and Human Rights Law, completed in 2019 at the Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria. Dissertation title: International criminal accountability for religious persecution in terms of the Rome Statute: A taxonomy of crimes against humanity of religious persecution. Dissertation available at: