A Life Interrupted: Essays in honour of the lives and legacies of Christof Heyns
Edited by Frans Viljoen, Charles Fombad, Dire Tladi, Ann Skelton and Magnus Killander
10 January 2022
ISBN: 978-1-991213-14-3
Pages: 503
Print version: Available
Electronic version: Free PDF available


About the publication 

This volume of essays, A life interrupted: essays in honour of the lives and legacies of Christof Heyns, honours Christof Heyns, renowned human rights lawyer, advocate, activist and educator, but also down-to-earth family man, friend and colleague. Christof’s sudden and most untimely passing on 28 March 2021 deeply saddened those close to him but also evinced an outpouring of grief from the national and international human rights community. His passing brought a deep sense of loss, in part because, at age 62, he was fully engaged in contributing to the betterment of society and still had so much more to give. His is a life interrupted. But at the same time, looking back over the varied lives he lived, he had already left his mark in so many ways. His influences and impacts are manifold and magical. This collection not only testifies to the legacy that he has left us, but also to the ongoing efforts of many to continue building on his legacy.

This collection contains two sets of essays by family members, friends, colleagues, collaborators and students. Part A contains essays of a more reflective and personal nature, while the contributions in Part B link to the scholarly or academic themes Christof had worked on and explored, including international human rights systems, international law, the right to life, freedom of association, international humanitarian law, the impact of human rights treaties, constitutionalism and legal philosophy. However, a neat distinction between the personal and professional is not possible in respect of such a warm, generous and enthusiastic person as Christof. Most of the essays in Part A integrate some of Christof’s professional and academic achievements, while many of the essays in Part B also reflect on Christof as a person.

The editors, all based at the Faculty of Law, UP, are colleagues and friends who worked closely with Christof. Frans Viljoen succeeded Christof as Director of the Centre for Human Rights. Christof was his doctoral supervisor, mentor and research collaborator. Charles Fombad worked with Christof at ICLA, and took over as ICLA Director after Christof’s passing. Dire Tladi, an ICLA fellow, had his office just across from Christof in ICLA. As member of the International Law Commission, he shared with Christof high level engagement with the UN. While Christof served on the Human Rights Committee, his colleague Ann Skelton serves on the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Magnus Killander worked closely with Christof as co-author and co-editor. Christof was also his doctoral supervisor.

The publication date of this book is 10 January 2022, which is the date marking 63 years since Christof’s birth. The publisher is the Pretoria University Law Press (PULP), of which Christof was also a founder.

Table of Contents

  Editors’ introduction


  1 Christof as husband and dad
Fearika Heyns, Willemien Rust and Adam Heyns
  2 Christof as friend
Murray Hofmeyr
  3 Christof Heyns: a Renaissance man’s living legacies
Tawana Kupe
  4 Christof and the University of Pretoria
Norman Duncan
  5 Christof and the Faculty of Law
Duard Kleyn, André Boraine and Elsabe Schoeman
  6 The place of Christof Heyns in the history of the Centre for Human Rights
Johann van der Westhuizen
  7 Christof at ICLA
Charles Fombad
  8 Christof and SASVO
Murray Hofmeyr, Prince Mbetse and Danie Brand
  9 Christof and the Integrated Bar Project
Bongani Majola, Carole Viljoen and Khashane Manamela
  10 Christof and the HRDA 
Ademola Oluborode Jegede, Annette Lansink and Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua
  11 Christof as doctoral supervisor
Frans Viljoen and Joe Kilonzo
  12 Christof and mooting
Frans Viljoen, Keketso Kgomosotho, Thompson Chengeta and Nyambeni Davhana
  13 ch, the editor
Magnus Killander
  14 Christof Heyns as visionary, teacher, mentor and independent human rights expert
Danwood M Chirwa
  15 Christof in Oxford
Nazila Ghanea, Andrew Shacknove and Kate O’Regan
  16 Christof at the UN
Cecile Aptel, Thomas Probert, Yuval Shany and Yasmin Sooka
  17 Christof Heyns and the ‘War against Terror’
Johan D van der Vyver


  18 The Addis Ababa Road Map, independent human rights experts and the realisation of human rights ideals
Michael K Addo
  19 Legitimacy, cost and benefit of international human rights monitoring
Magnus Killander
  20 Trailblazer of institutional and normative pathways on the African human rights landscape
Frans Viljoen

  21 Africa: influencing aspects of theory and practice in international law
Chris Maina Peter
  22 The evolution of the UN-AU peace and security partnership
Hennie Strydom
  23 The African Union’s right to intervene and the right to life: tension or concordance?
Dire Tladi with John Dugard

  24 Police use of force
Stuart Casey-Maslen
  25 Accounting for life: the role of counting and data in the protection of the right to life and the pursuit of safety
Thomas Probert
  26 Science, technology, and human rights
Jay D Aronson

  27 Protecting the right to peaceful assembly for today and the future
Clément N Voule and Ona Flores
  28 ‘Deal with me, here I stand!’: presence, participation and the equal protection of online assemblies
Michael Hamilton, Ella McPherson and Sharath Srinivasan
  29 Children being civilly disobedient: peaceful assembly and international children’s rights
Ann Skelton
  30 Facilitating and protecting the right of peaceful assembly of persons with disabilities
Beryl Orao

  31 Is the Convention on Conventional Weapons the appropriate framework to produce a new law on autonomous weapon systems?
Thompson Chengeta
  32 Christof as Pan-African humanitarian lawyer
Sarah Mabeza

  33 ‘Digital shift’: what have the UN treaty bodies achieved, and what is still missing?
Vincent Ploton
  34 The ‘implementation’ in ‘National Mechanisms for Implementation, Reporting and Follow-up’: what about the victims?
Rachel Murray
  35 UN treaty body views: a distinct pathway to UN human rights treaty impact?
Başak Çalı

  36 Socio-economic rights in South Africa: the ‘Christof Heyns clause’
Danie Brand
  37 The application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in constitutional litigation in Benin
Trésor Muhindo Makunya

  38 Struggle, refusal, narrative
Karin van Marle



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