Notre Dame Law School delegation to visit South Africa, will celebrate 50 years of human rights advocacy

Author: Notre Dame Law School

Deancole Feb 2023
Dean G. Marcus Cole

A delegation from Notre Dame Law School will embark on a ten-day visit to South Africa starting on Monday, November 6. The delegation is led by G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean of Notre Dame Law School. The primary objective of this historic trip is to strengthen and enhance relationships between Notre Dame Law School, the University of Cape Town Faculty of Law, and the Constitutional Court of South Africa aiming to establish a formal faculty and student exchange program and other partnerships in the near future. This initiative aligns with the 50th anniversary of the creation of Notre Dame’s international program in human rights law.

The roots for the Master of Laws program in international human rights law can be traced back to the 1980s when Justice Richard Goldstone, a prominent South African jurist, was serving on the South African Transvaal Supreme Court. Goldstone, leveraging his insider position to fight apartheid and promote justice, met with University of Notre Dame President Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C. When Fr. Hesburgh asked how Notre Dame could assist in promoting justice in South Africa, Goldstone responded, "Educate our lawyers."

The resulting program was created to apply lessons from America’s civil rights movement to apartheid. It has since expanded worldwide and today more than 500 lawyers from over 100 countries have been educated through the LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law. In 1996 Goldstone, who later served for nine years as a justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Notre Dame.

Accompanying the delegation from the Law School are Paul Miller, professor of law and associate dean for International and Graduate Programs; Diane Desierto, professor of law and faculty director of LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law; Michael Addo, professor of law and director of the London Law Programme; and Christine Venter, teaching professor and director of the Legal Writing Program. The delegation also includes Monica Caro, program director for International and Graduate Programs, and Jean Marc Brissau, graduate programs manager.

The initial part of the trip will focus on a visit to the University of Cape Town, where discussions will revolve around internationalization programs, judicial training, future collaborations with faculty and students, and research opportunities for both law schools. The institutions will also highlight their respective work in human rights law. While in Cape Town, the delegation will explore Robben Island, Table Mountain, and the historic Bo-KAAP district to gain a deeper understanding of South African history.

The delegation will then spend four days in Johannesburg meeting several members of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, exploring clerkship and fellowship opportunities, and visiting significant landmarks such as Constitution Hill, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and the Apartheid Museum.

Headshot Richard Goldstone
Justice Richard Goldstone

The culminating event of the trip will take place on Monday, November 13, at the Constitutional Court of South Africa, and will feature a panel discussion in honor of Justice Richard Goldstone and a celebration of the Law School's 50 years of human rights advocacy. The panel will include Justice Goldstone, Notre Dame Law School Dean G. Marcus Cole, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Reuben E. Brigety, and Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. The event will be followed by a reception with justices from the Constitutional Court of South Africa and Notre Dame alumni.