Dr Navanethem “Navi” Pillay is a UKZN alumna, whose pioneering work has been path-forming in securing the rights of the subjugated under apartheid South Africa and in confronting crimes against humanity, mass atrocity and genocide through the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court. Her contributions, including through her work as former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, developing a normative framework for international justice, including the principles and practices for addressing gender-based crimes, have shaped and shifted global discourse, policy and practice pertaining to human rights and justice in our time.
In honouring Dr Pillay’s formidable, inventive legacy and tireless agency, colleagues within the UKZN School of Law have come together to constitute a Research Group, the Navi Pillay Research Group (NPRG), as envisaged by Section 5.2.4 of UKZN’s Policy on Institutes, Centres and Units
In recognising Dr Pillay’s contribution to the promotion of human rights, we have established the NPRG, to advance human rights and social justice research and advocacy in a broad and innovative range of spheres. The purpose behind the NPRG is to establish an interdisciplinary, collaborative entity to support research, education, policy and advocacy interventions that respond to contemporary social issues.
The NPRG seeks to address emergent issues of race, class, gender and disability in post-Apartheid South Africa. Critical issues demanding research and engagement include those relating to land reform and economic justice, decolonization and persistent forms of discrimination, and human rights violations (particularly those impacting on vulnerable categories of people), in their various manifestations, including the ever increasing use of the internet/cyber space as a contested area of abuse and protection.
Our research interventions are designed to analyse instances of human rights violations and social injustice, to contribute towards knowledge generation on these issues and support appropriate advocacy interventions in response. Rather than being reactive, our research is geared towards alerting policy makers to the need for prevention measures, to address gaps in policy framing and implementation. These measures seek to raise awareness, support existing community advocacy initiatives, and improve state accountability for and response mechanisms to rights violations.
Further , NPRG’s research interest areas are intended to complement and consolidate already existing initiatives within the School of Law, in the form of postgraduate studies, the publishing of scholarly articles, support for social justice networks and their community outreach initiatives, and other measures we intend to expand on. Our proposed methodology in this regard is to capacitate staff; design curricula, templates and introduce modules; and establish research teams to drive research into and advocacy responses to the focal areas listed below.
School of Law, Howard College
University of KwaZulu-Natal
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