Engaging Justice in South Africa



The Center for Civil and Human Rights will focus on the development of constitutional justice in South Africa, and the impact of Notre Dame alumni in that process, through this special event series.

Notre Dame’s legacy of engagement in South Africa reaches back to the late 1980’s, when university president Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., at the request of South African jurist Richard Goldstone, created CCHR’s LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law specifically to help equip that country’s human rights lawyers to advocate for justice. To date, Notre Dame has graduated 36 South African lawyers through the LL.M. program.

"Engaging Justice in South Africa" will be built around a number of these alumni, each working on constitutional and human rights issues, who will participate in a conversation about South Africa's transformative constitutionalism as well as the country's continuing pursuit of social justice. The series is presented in partnership with Notre Dame Law School.


Conversation: "Engaging South African Constitutional Justice"

This panel event will provide the alumni an opportunity to examine both extraordinary progress and continued challenges in South Africa, as well as reflect upon the impact that a Notre Dame education had on their efforts.

Thursday, April 14  |  12:30 p.m.  |  1130 Eck Hall of Law 


Lecture: "Judging According to Personal Attributes: Tension with the Oath of Office?"

Mbuyiseli Madlanga, LL.M. ’90,  a current Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and the Judge James J. Clynes, Jr. Visiting Chair in the Ethics of Litigation within the Judicial Process, will deliver the Clynes Chair Lecture at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, April 14  |  5:30 p.m.  |  1130 Eck Hall of Law 


Symposium: "South African Justice: 20 Years of Theory and Practice"

The Journal of International and Comparative Law's annual symposium, featuring CCHR alumni as panelists, will review the origins and jurisprudence of the South African constitution and draw insights into the legal advances that have been made in light of it.

Friday, April 15  |  9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  |  3140 Eck Hall of Law

Introductory Remarks
Mary Ellen O’Connell, Sean O’Brien
History and Structure of the
South African Constitutional Court

Roger Alford
The Office of the Public Protector
and Other Chapter 9 Institutions

Heinz Klug
South Africa’s National Human Rights Institution
Judith Cohen
Constitutional Court Contributions
to Transitional Justice

Garth Meintjes
Governmental Compliance with
Constitutional Court Rulings

Justice Mbuyseli Madlanga; Heinz Klug, moderator
In Transition? The Struggle for Socio-Economic
Justice in South Africa

Vinodh Jaichand
Access to Justice
Jacquie Cassette
Promotion and Protection of Prisoners’ Rights
Judith Cohen
Gender Rights
Christine Venter
Constitutional Rights and the Court
Madlanga, Jaichand, Klug, Cohen, Cassette, Venter, Meintjes
M. O’Connell - moderator




Mbuyiseli Madlanga, LL.M. ’90
Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and the Judge James J. Clynes, Jr. Visiting Chair in the Ethics of Litigation within the Judicial Process

From 1987 to 1989 Justice Madlanga worked as a law lecturer at the University of Transkei, teaching customary law, the law of delict and the law of contract. After completing his LL.M. at Notre Dame in 1990 he worked in the Washington, D.C. office of Amnesty International. In 1991 he returned to South Africa and began practice as an advocate in Mthatha. In 1996, he was appointed to the bench of the Transkei Division of the High Court (now the Mthatha seat of the Eastern Cape Division) and later became its acting Judge President.  From 1998 to 1999, he was an acting judge on the Supreme Court of Appeal. The following year he became an acting judge of the Constitutional Court upon Arthur Chaskalson's invitation. In 2001, Madlanga resigned from the bench, and returned to private practice. In 2013, Madlanga was appointed to a 12-year term on the Constitutional Court.


Vinodh Jaichand, LL.M. ’88, J.S.D. ’96,
Dean of the Law School at The University of the Witwatersrand

Prof. Jaichand was the former Director of the International Human Rights Exchange in the School of Social Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and prior to that Deputy Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights. He was formerly Associate Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Law at University of Durban-Westville and served as National Executive Director of Lawyers for Human Rights. He holds membership in the Editorial Review Board Human Rights Series of the Republic of Letters Publishing, the Editorial Review Board of Human Rights & Human Welfare, in the Advisory Board of the Sur-International Journal on Human Rights, in the International Advisory Board of Diakonia, Jerusalem. He is a member of Consulting Editorial Board of the University of Ghana Law Journal and reader for the International Journal for Transitional Justice. In August 2013 he was appointed as a Commissioner to the Law Reform Commission.


Judith Cohen, LL.M. ’95
International Coordinating Commitee Liaison Officer at the South African Human Rights Commission

Ms. Cohen has worked in private practice as an attorney and at the NGO Lawyers for Human Rights, where she worked extensively in rural areas on the eviction of farm workers. When  joining the South African Human Rights Commission in 2001 she was responsible for the Commissions engagement in legislative and parliamentary processes that seek to promote and protect human rights. During this period she also developed the Commissions international area of work. In addition she has drafted the SAHRC Report on National Inquiry into Violations in the Farming Community (2003), the SAHRC Report on Public Hearing into the Rights to Basic Education (2006) and was extensively involved in the drafting of the Report of Public Hearing on School-based Violence (2008). For the past three years, South Africa has chaired the International Coordinating Committee (ICC), the global alliance of national human rights institutions and she has worked exclusively in this area at an international level.


Jacquie Cassette, LL.M. ’95
Director and national practice head in the Pro Bono and Human Rights practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, Johannesburg

Ms. Cassette practiced as an advocate at the Johannesburg Bar prior to joining Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, mostly in the fields of constitutional and administrative law (public law), pension fund law as well as general commercial law. She also acted as the Chair of the Advertising Industry Tribunal and taught at the Wits Law School for a few years before obtaining her LL.M. at the Notre Dame. She spent a year as an intern in the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICTY and ICTR in the Hague, returning to South Africa to serve as a research assistant to Justice Richard Goldstone at the Constitutional Court. From there she was employed as a senior investigator at the Office of the Public Protector for two years, before joining the Johannesburg Bar where she practiced from 2001 to 2013. She joined Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr as a director in 2014.


Garth Meintjes, LL.M. ’91, J.S.D. ’05
President of PILnet: The Global Network for Public Interest Law

Mr. Meintjes served as Senior Program Manager at JEHT, where he oversaw the foundation's portfolio of international justice grants, then as the International Legal Foundation's Chief Operating Officer. Previously, he was Associate Director at the Center for Civil and Human Rights at the Notre Dame Law School, where he wrote and taught in the areas of international law and human rights, particularly accountability for gross violations of human rights, and human rights practice. A South Africa lawyer, he received his B.A. from the University of Stellenbosch and an LL.B. from the University of Cape Town. He also taught constitutional law and criminal law at the University of the Western Cape.


Christine Venter, LL.M. ’93, J.S.D. ’95
Director of the Notre Dame Legal Writing Program

Prof. Venter earned her B.A. degree from the University of Cape Town and her law degree from the University of Cape Town School of Law, where she was Editor in Chief of the Law Review. She then worked as an associate for The Sangoni Partnership, a South African firm specializing in civil rights litigation. After relocating to the US she worked as counsel at the Law Offices of Williamson and Lewis, California, specializing in international business law, and later did legal aid work in the US. She is a member of the Legal Writing Institute, the Association of Legal Writing Directors, and is an Editor of The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute. She is the author of International Women's Rights, Equality, and Justice: A Context and Practice.