The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is currently hosting a group of Palestinian and Israeli students and academics from Hebron University and Tel Aviv University. The team of 12 students is visiting the University for a 13-day Advanced Academic Workshop on Transitional Justice in South Africa. The workshop is scheduled from 23 June to 5 July 2014.
Through the workshop, the two groups of students, together with a group of seven UJ students and a UJ academic, aim to foster academic collaborations between Israeli, Palestinian and South African students, focusing on the area of Transitional Justice.
The workshop directors are Mia Swart, Professor of International Law at UJ and Sigall Horovitz of Tel Aviv University.
Says Prof Mia Swart: “The workshop focuses on the South African transition and covers a range of Transitional Justice issues such as the history of the South African transition to democracy, Ubuntu, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), gender issues as well as land reform and reparations.” She added that lectures on issues of land reform in Israel/Palestine form part of the workshop’s programme and include a critical assessment of these processes from the perspective of 20 years since democracy.
According to Prof Swart guest lecturers on this course include a number of academic experts across various disciplines. “The workshop encourages Israeli, Palestinian and South African students to exchange ideas and learn together about the effects and relevance of Transitional Justice, locally and globally.
It also includes visits to important South African sites such as the Apartheid Museum in Soweto, the Constitutional Court, the Women’s Prison, Lilliesleaf Farm, some victim rights groups and Constitutional Court judges. This workshop is the first of its kind in South Africa,” says Prof Swart.
She highlighted that Transitional Justice, an emerging interdisciplinary field of study and practice concerned with judicial and other social processes, is aimed at addressing legacies of human rights abuses in the course of transitions to peace and democracy. “The field of Transitional Justice started attracting international interest after the successful operation of the South African TRC. This field is particularly relevant yet under-utilized in the Israeli-Palestinian contexts, both in relation to Jewish-Arab tensions within Israel and to the international Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” says Prof Swart.
Prof Swart concludes: “South Africa demonstrated how Transitional Justice mechanisms, such as the TRC as well as a new Constitution and Constitutional Court, can help a society transition peacefully to democracy. A South African perspective could therefore inspire Israeli and Palestinian students to consider the applicability of Transitional Justice to their local contexts.”