April 22, 2009 08:58 Age: 5 yrs

Van der Vyver Celebrates 50 Years of Teaching

Johan D. van der Vyver

Johan D. van der Vyver, I.T. Cohen Professor of International Law and Human Rights, has completed his 50th year of law teaching. He says he’s just getting started and still has his best work ahead of him. His colleagues think that he is, as usual, being too modest.

“We have had a legal giant quietly walking amongst us, and it’s time to take his full measure,” said Professor John Witte Jr. in toasting van der Vyver on behalf of the faculty. Van der Vyver has lectured throughout the world and published 15 books, 300 articles and hundreds of shorter essays.

But he is best known as the “doyen” of human rights in his native South Africa. He was fired from his professorship at the University of Pochefstroom for his criticisms of the government’s apartheid policy. Thereafter he launched a campaign of human rights and constitutional reform. He organized the first human rights conference in Cape Town in 1979 and delivered a series of award-winning lectures on human rights that are anchor texts for the new South Africa.

It was human rights that brought Professor van der Vyver to Emory in 1995. As Senior Fellow, first at The Carter Center and then in the Law and Religion Center, he has led a series of major projects on issues of democratization, human rights, proselytism and children’s rights. His work has shifted in recent years, and he is putting the finishing touches on a major three-volume work on the international criminal court.

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