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Northwestern Law Honors South African Judge

Dikgang Moseneke receives first annual Global Jurist of the Year Award

CHICAGO --- Northwestern University School of Law’s Center for International Human Rights (CIHR) recently awarded its first annual Global Jurist of the Year Award to Dikgang Moseneke, deputy chief justice of the South African Constitutional Court. 

A distinguished lawyer and judge, Moseneke was chosen as the inaugural recipient of the award for his commitment to human rights and the rule of law. He spoke on “The People, the Courts and the Embryonic Jurisprudence of South Africa” at the October dinner and award ceremony. Earlier in the day he presented “The Law and the Transition from Apartheid to a Constitutional Democracy,” to an audience of students, faculty, staff and alumni.

“Chief Deputy Justice Moseneke’s unwavering commitment to justice and the rule of law throughout his long and distinguished career, often in the face of adversity, is an inspiration to the bench and bar,” said David Scheffer, Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law at Northwestern and director of the Center for International Human Rights.

Moseneke, born in Pretoria, South Africa, was arrested and convicted at age 15 for participating in anti-apartheid activity. During his 10-year imprisonment on Robben Island, he earned two college degrees. In 1978 he was admitted as an attorney and focused his practice largely on legal challenges to apartheid policies and their consequences.  

In 1993, Moseneke served on the committee that drafted South Africa’s interim constitution and served as deputy chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, which conducted South Africa’s first democratic elections. In 2001, he was appointed as a judge of the High Court in Pretoria and was appointed to the Constitutional Court in 2002. Moseneke was made deputy chief justice of that court in 2005.

The CIHR created the Global Jurist of the Year Award to recognize judges who have made a substantial contribution to the advancement of international human rights law and international criminal law, particularly those who have shown outstanding dedication to the rule of law and courage in the face of adversity. Jurists from all nations and tribunals are eligible for consideration.

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