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Constitutional Court judge received honorary doctorate


Posted on 23 April 2008

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro
Justice Yvonne Mokgoro

Constitutional Court Judge, Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, was awarded a doctorate in law at the University of Pretoria on Tuesday, April 22. Justice Mokgoro's LLD (Honoris Causa) degree formed part of the Autumn Graduation Ceremonies that started on April 9.

Justice Mokgoro has made significant contributions to the legal profession throughout a long and distinguished career. Her contributions to academia, the judicial system and the broader legal community have had a meaningful and considerable impact on the lives of all South Africans, but especially women and children. Her continued service to the legal profession and to the Southern African community has ensured that Justice Mokgoro is not only a leading South African jurist, but also an internationally acclaimed figure.

Justice Mokgoro was nominated for this award by the University’s Faculty of Law for her association with its Centre for Human Rights (CHR) and the Department of Legal History. As a member of the CHR Board, Justice Mokgoro has been a long-standing supporter of CHR-activities. In 2001 she was awarded the CHR Woman of the Year in Law award and in 2006 she served as a judge in the final round of the 15th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition which was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Justice Mokgoro was born 58 year years ago in Galeshewe Township near Kimberley and matriculated at the local St Boniface High School in 1970. Before she ventured into a legal profession, she worked as a nursing assistant and later as a salesperson.

She obtained the BA Law degree at the North-West University in 1982, the LLB degree two years later, and completed her LLM in 1987 at the same institution. Between 1984 and 1989, she worked as a lecturer in the Department of Jurisprudence at the North-West University and was also appointed as a maintenance officer and public prosecutor in the Mmabatho Magistrate Court. From 1989 to 1990, she attended the University of Pennsylvania in the USA, where she obtained a second Master of Law degree.

Between 1992 and 1993, Mokgoro served as an Associate Professor in the Department of Jurisprudence at the University of the Western Cape. From there she moved to the Centre for Constitutional Analysis at the Human Sciences Research Council where she was a specialist researcher in human rights. During this time, she also acted as a part-time lecturer at the University of Pretoria. In 1994, she was appointed as a judge of the Constitutional Court, where she continues to serve. She is one of only two women (the other being Justice Kate O'Regan) and the first black woman on the first Constitutional Court.

“Justice Mokgoro is a symbol of women’s accomplishments in law, and an advocate for human rights, in particular the right to equality,” said Gill Jacot Guillarmod – senior programme manager at the University’s Centre for Human Rights.

Justice Mokgoro acts as a resource for non-governmental and community-based organisations. She is a member of several legal organisations, among them:

· South African Law Reform Commission (the chairperson)

· African Legal Aid (the president)

· International Women’s Association

· International Association of Women Judges

· International Federation of Women Lawyers

· South African Women Lawyers Association

· Advisory Committee of the South African-Canadian Linkage Project (was a member between 1994 and 2004).

During her legal career, Justice Mokgoro has lectured on a range of legal subjects at many universities in South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Netherlands. Throughout her legal career, Justice Mokgoro has written extensively, presented numerous papers, and participated in a myriad of national and international seminars and workshops in South Africa and abroad.

Her research focuses on sociological jurisprudence, particularly human rights and customary law, including the social impact it has on women and children.

She also serves on a number of boards, university councils, trusts, human rights centres, etc. She is an Honorary Lecturer in the Department of Legal History at the University of Pretoria. She had previously taught Comparative Law in the same department where she still presents visiting lectures.

Click here for Judge Mokgoro's address at the graduation ceremony.


Mokgoro   Mokgoro and Heyns
Justice Yvonne Mokgoro
  Justice Mokgoro and Dean of Law,
Prof Christof Heyns





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