Propos conclusifs et leçons importantes (intervention en Anglais et Français)/Concluding remarks and important lessons (intervention in English and French)

frans-viljoen-2021Author: Frans Viljoen
Professeur de droit international des droits de l’homme, directeur du Centre des droits de l’homme, Faculté de droit, Université de Pretoria
Professor of international human rights law, Director, Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

Merci beaucoup Monsieur le modérateur,

C’est un réel honneur et important privilège de prononcer quelques mots de clôture de cette conférence de vernissage virtuelle de l’ouvrage du Juge Albie Sachs.

Telle une icône des droits humains et une source d’inspiration, la notoriété du juge Albie Sachs dépasse les frontières nationales. Le Juge réunit les gens de divers horizons dans le monde. La traduction de son ouvrage, L’étrange alchimie de la vie et de la loi rend son œuvre initiale, The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law ainsi que les arrêts de la Cour constitutionnelle sud-africaine accessible à un public assez large. Pour nous à la Pretoria University Law Press (PULP), l’accès libre et la grande accessibilité aux œuvres scientifiques sont très importants. Nous sommes, ainsi donc, très heureux de vernir cet ouvrage aujourd’hui. Nous espérons que cela accroitra le dialogue judiciaire entre les juges des pays du monde Anglo-Saxon et ceux de droit civil et aidera à briser les clivages hérités de la colonisation, en Afrique en particulier.

Let me continue in English. We at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria have since 2000 been running the Masters in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa (HRDA). As a teacher on this programme, I am always struck by the great difference in approach of our students from the Francophone background, compared to students with an Anglophone background and seeped in a Common Law legal culture. It is as if we live in two very different scholarly worlds in Africa. Scholarly works on a particular theme, including the African human rights system, often develop along parallel lines, with only rare intersecting moments in the form of an occasional cross-reference.  Judicial decisions similarly reflect distinctly different communities of practice that often seemingly do not really communicate with, or even take notice of, each other.  What judicial dialogue has there for example been between two main post-1990 African constitutional traditions, that of the Constitutional Courts of Benin and South Africa?  Judge Sachs’s L’étrange alchimie de la vie et de la loi provides access to important excerpts of the South African Constitutional Court in the French language. We trust that today’s event represents a small step to confirm that this dialogue is really possible and draw attention to the need that it should be encouraged and cultivated.

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The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law by Albie Sachs – French Edition – Welcoming remarks and tribute to Professor Christof Heyns (Traduction française en bas du texte)

Justice-Albie-SachsAuthor: Justice Albie Sachs 
Author & Former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa

This edition is remarkable in many ways. 

To begin with, it has been published by the Centre for Human Rights (Centre) at the University of Pretoria, the university that was once the brain, the soul and the heart of apartheid thinking.  What a brave effort it had been in the 1980s, when Mandela and others were still in prison, people like myself were in exile and the country was suffering from one State of Emergency after another, for Professors Johann Van der Westhuizen and Christof Heyns to establish the Centre.  Then, after democracy was achieved, Johann went on to become a colleague of mine on the South African Constitutional Court, while Christof took over the Centre’s leadership. The main thrust of his work was to link the Centre with lawyers, law teachers and students throughout the African continent.  Christof died earlier this year.  We still feel the shock at the passing of a most remarkable person.  He was humane, he was funny, he was hardworking.  He had a quiet passion, and there was absolutely no showoff at all in anything that he did.  He made impossible things possible.  He worked with equal ease and success all over the African continent, at Geneva, and for the United Nations. The clash of ideas enthralled him. Nothing about human life was ever banal; any team he ever headed found the discussions enthralling. It was fun – the more intractable the subject matter, the more exciting and joyous the extraction of serviceable and meaningful truths.  Wherever he went he brought with him this creative, participatory style of work.  And one of his special projects was to connect up English-speaking and French-speaking lawyers in Africa.  This French language edition of the book is dedicated to him.

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