Prof John Dugard, currently a Fellow of STIAS, will give a lecture entitled
Do the political transitions in South Africa and Namibia have any lessons for Palestine?
It is widely believed that international law has no role to play in the settlement of political disputes. This belief is disproved by the histories of both Namibia and South Africa where norms of international law guided the political settlements. In the case of Namibia the United Nations made it clear that under international law South West Africa was an international territory that was to be administered by South Africa as a “sacred trust of civilization”. South Africa’ s policies aimed at annexation, territorial fragmentation and the application of apartheid were accordingly rejected by the United Nations. In 1991 Namibia became independent within the framework prescribed by international law. In the case of South Africa norms of international law rejected the territorial fragmentation of the country into Bantustans and prescribed the principles of non-discrimination and respect for human rights. Again, South Africa’s transition of the early nineties took place in accordance with the prescriptions of international law. In Palestine the Palestinians insist that any settlement must be guided by the principle of international law that territory may not be acquired by forcible means . Israel’s policies and practices , particularly its annexation of East Jerusalem , construction of a wall in Palestinian territory and settlements , are at odds with this principle. Israel refuses to accept this established principle of international law and is explicitly supported by the United States and implicitly by many European states. The lesson of Southern Africa that any viable settlement must take place in accordance with the prescriptions of international law finds little support among western states but they still offer the best hope for a peaceful settlement.
John Dugard is currently resident fellow at STIAS. He is a law graduate of the Universities of Stellenbosch and Cambridge and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Stellenbosch University in 2011. In 2012 he was awarded the Order of the Baobab (Gold) by President Zuma. His main interests are international law, human rights and international criminal law. He has taught at the Universities of the Witwatersrand (1965–1998), Cambridge (1995–1997), Leiden (1998–2006) and Pretoria (2007–2011) . At the University of the Witwatersrand he was Director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies and at Cambridge he was Director of the Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law. He was a member of the UN International Law Commission (1997–2011) and UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (2001–2008). He is presently a judge ad hoc of the International Court of Justice. He is author of Human Rights and the South African Legal Order (1978) and International Law: A South African Perspective (4th ed., 2011).