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Type: Public event

De Facto & De Jure Apartheid: A failure in international humanitarian law; A 20 year conversation on South Africa's racialized reconciliation

Date & time

Jan 8, 2016, 4:00-5:40 pm EST


Free and Open to the Public 

The International Policy Center presents a conversation between Heidi Grunebaum and Yazier Henry on the politics, philosophy, and morality of guilt, denial, complicity and responsibility in the context of South Africa since the official ending of De Jure.

About the Event:

The system of Apartheid in South Africa was labeled a crime against humanity by the UNO General Assembly on the 16th of December 1966, which was endorsed by the UN Security Council in 1984. In November 1973 the General Assembly adopted the Apartheid Convention declaring systematic oppression of groups of persons as an international crime. The South African state’s political failure to adhere to the moral precepts contained in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights after 1948 was central to causing the civil conflict in South Africa which endured formally until 1994. How has giving up the right to legal accountability during the South African transitional processes impacted the new state’s ability to develop institutional mechanisms that guarantee a system free of human rights abuses? An official promise was made by the state after its inauguration in 1994. Whose voice or which voices are articulated legally, officially and publicly? How are the voices of the actors—the losers and the beneficiaries; the victims, perpetrators and bystanders—experienced politically, legally and socially? Is the official record of human rights violations, abuse and atrocity enough to ensure systemic and administrative change in accordance with human rights claims before and during the settlement process? How are these complex processes related to the growing social and economic tensions that exist in South Africa today?


About the Speakers: 

Dr. Heidi Grunebaum is scholar and writer. She works as a senior researcher at the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape. Grunebaum's work focuses on aesthetic and social responses to the afterlives of war and mass violence, the politics of memory and memorialization, and psycho-geographies of displacement in South Africa, Germany and, more recently, Palestine/Israel.  She is author of Memorializing the Past: Everyday life in South Africa after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (New Brunswick: Transaction, 2011) and co-editor, with Emile Maurice, of Uncontained: Opening the Community Arts Project Archive (Cape Town: Centre for Humanities Research, 2012). With Mark J. Kaplan, she made the documentary film, The Village Under the Forest (Greymatter Media: 2013)

Yazier Henry teaches at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan. He is a scholar, writer, strategist and professional human rights advocate. He has written and published on the political economy of social voice, memory, trauma, identity, peace processes, Truth Commissions, and international transitional justice. His current research and writing projects focus on how structural and administrative violence come to be institutionalized during post-colonial transitions. He studies and has in-depth experience in social and political movements, social and political systems, strategic communications, political strategy and conflict management.

Dr. John D. Ciorciari is Co-Director of the International Policy Center, and Assistant Professor at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. He was also selected as part of the inaugural class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows, 2015-2017. His research focuses on international law and politics in the Global South. He is a senior legal advisor to the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which promotes historical memory and justice for the atrocities of the Pol Pot regime. He is also an associate fellow at the Asia Society and term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


This event is sponsored by the International Policy Center and hosted by The African Studies Center (ASC), with support from the Center for Public Policy in Diverse Societies, and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.