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Judge Navanethem Pillay: An Unapologetic Feminist and Human Rights Activist

Nkiru Nzegwu


This profile examines Judge Navanethem Pillay's legal and judicial philosophy prior to her appointment on the bench in South Africa. Judge Pillay was the first woman to start a law practice in Natal Province and the first black woman to serve in the High Court in South Africa. Prior to her appointment as judge she defended many opponents of apartheid and has written on and practiced international criminal law, international humanitarian law and international human rights law, particularly on crimes of sexual violence in conflicts. She had an illustrious career on the South African bench and was elected by the United Nations General Assembly to be a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she is credited with turning the Tribunal towards a more positive course.


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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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