Public International Law Discussion Group-Adjudicating International Law in a Domestic Context (Justice Kate O’Regan)

admin - 5th February 2017

Thursday 9 February, 2017 @ 12.30 the Old Library, All Souls College, Oxford

Justice Kate O’Regan, Director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, University of Oxford

 Adjudicating International Law in a Domestic Context: Reflections on the Experience of the South African Constitutional Court

Kate O’Regan served as one of the first judges of the Constitutional Court of South Africa from 1994 – 2009 and as an ad hoc judge of the Supreme Court of Namibia from 2010 – 2016.  She has a Ph.D. in law from the London School of Economics. She has recently been appointed as the inaugural Director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights in the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford, which will formally open in September 2017. From 2008 – 2012, Kate served as the inaugural chairperson of the United Nations Internal Justice Council, a body established to ensure independence, professionalism and accountability in the internal system of justice in the UN. She is also President of the International Monetary Fund Administrative Tribunal (since 2011), a member of the World Bank Sanctions Board (since 2012) and a member of the IAAF Ethics Board (since 2016).  She is an honorary bencher of Lincoln’s Inn, an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the recipient of six  honorary degrees. She has also served on the boards of many NGOs working in the fields of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and equality.


The Preamble to South Africa’s new Constitution states, amongst other things, that South Africa “should take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations”.  Not only does the Constitution explicitly regulate the process for the entering into of international agreements, and the application of customary law in South Africa, but it also provides that in interpreting the Bill of Rights the courts “must consider international law”.  In her seminar, Professor O’Regan, who served as a judge of the South African Constitutional Court for fifteen years from its establishment in 1994 till 2009 when her fifteen-year term ended, will discuss how the Constitutional Court  has interpreted these provisions of the Constitution. She will focus both on the interpretive uses of international law in Bill of Rights adjudication, as well as on cases relating to the interpretation and application of international law by the Court in other matters. She will consider the extent to which South African history might be said to have affected the approach to international law and international organizations by the Court.

 A listing of future seminars in this series can be found here.

The Public International Law Discussion Group at the University of Oxford is a key focal point for PIL@Oxford. The PIL Discussion Group hosts a weekly speaker event and light lunch. Topics involve contemporary and challenging issues in international law. Speakers include distinguished international law practitioners, academics, and legal advisers from around the world. The group typically meets each Thursday during Oxford terms in The Old Library, All Souls College, with lunch commencing at 12:30. The speaker commence at 12:45 and speak for about forty minutes, allowing about twenty five minutes for questions and discussion. The meeting should conclude before 2:00.

The discussion group’s meetings are part of the programme of the British Branch of the International Law Association and are supported by the Law Faculty and Oxford University Press.

Convenors of the Oxford Public International Law Discussion Group are Patricia Jimenez Kwast and Nikiforos Panagis.


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