Recognised internationally for excellence in human rights law in Africa, the Centre for Human Rights is uniquely positioned as both an academic department and a non-governmental organisation. A leader in human rights education in Africa, the Centre works towards a greater awareness of human rights, the wide dissemination of publications on human rights in Africa, and the improvement of the rights of women, people living with HIV, indigenous peoples, sexual minorities and other disadvantaged or marginalised persons or groups across the continent
The Centre was established in the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, in 1986, as part of domestic efforts against the apartheid system of the time. Members of the Centre participated in meetings with the liberation movements outside the borders of South Africa, organised conferences and participated in efforts to promote human rights in South Africa, and, when the transition came, served as technical advisors in the constitution-writing processes.
Over the years, the Centre’s focus broadened to encompass diverse issues of human rights law in Africa, and international development law in general. Today, the Centre is at the hub of an unmatched network of practising and academic lawyers, national and international civil servants and human rights practitioners across the entire continent. An ever-growing cadre of Centre graduates now contributes in numerous ways to the advancement of human rights and democracy and the strengthening of institutions all over the African continent, and beyond.
In 2006, the Centre for Human Rights was awarded the UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education, with particular recognition for the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition and the LLM/MPhil in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa. On the occasion of marking 25 years of its existence in 2012, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ rights awarded its Human Rights Prize for civil society oranisations to the Centre.