Overview

Students and staff undertake research at the Faculty of Law. The NWU has a teaching and learning strategy that acknowledges the importance of research skills. The NWU has the necessary library and computer facilities available for students to do the research required for their studies.

The NWU subscribes to 253 electronic databases, to which all staff and students have access on and off NWU premises. Students are provided with different platforms on which they can access national and international statutes, case law and academic articles. The NWU Library information specialists assigned to Law have developed LIBGUIDES, which are electronic guides in specific fields, and are always available to assist students in their research.

All full-time academic staff members of the Faculty of Law participate in the work of the Research Unit for Law, Justice and Sustainability, which has several active research projects. The Faculty is also proud to have a number of distinguished international scholars associated with our research projects.

The Research Unit for Law, Justice and Sustainability addresses developmental and legal challenges in South Africa. The various projects in the unit deal with cutting-edge and cross-cutting issues pertaining to both the public and private sector. Examples are trade and development, land issues, poverty alleviation, environmental governance, the realisation of socio-economic rights, religion and culture.

South Africa operates within the context of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union and international law, and therefore several of the projects investigate these relationships. What makes the research unit unique is that its research projects all relate to government’s priority service delivery areas.

Staff and students

The academics participating in the research unit’s activities are highly qualified: 32 have doctoral degrees and 11 are NRF-rated researchers. Emeritus Prof LM du Plessis and Prof F Venter are internationally acclaimed researchers and Prof LJ Kotzé is one of the few P-rated (NRF Prestigious Awardee) scientists in South Africa. Prof Anél du Plessis has a Y1 rating and Prov Avitus Agbor and Prof Howard Chitimira have Y2 ratings.

Research partnerships

The Faculty has partnerships with various international universities for undergraduate and postgraduate student and staff exchange. The research unit also participates in these programmes and presents annual summer-winter law schools in collaboration with Tilburg University in the Netherlands and the Justus Liebig University in Germany.

The research unit regularly presents colloquia on various topics in association with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Representatives of government, agriculture, NGOs, legal practice, academia and the private sector attend these colloquia. 

Members of the unit serve on national and international research councils and committees, are members of editorial boards of national and international journals and are invited to present papers at national and international conferences. They are therefore nationally and internationally recognised for their research outputs.

Focus

The research unit utilises law to find innovative juridical solutions to advance justice and sustainability in South Africa and the region, as a member of the international community of states and as an influential country on the African continent.

Strategic aim

The vision and strategic aim of the research unit is to utilise juridical science and the law to find innovative solutions for challenges of justice and sustainability in South Africa and the region as it relates to the rest of the world, and to strive towards national, regional and international research excellence through innovative research.

Values

The research unit strives to promote justice by finding theoretical and practical solutions for the realisation of the rights and values contained in the Constitution.

Mission

  • To be recognised nationally, regionally and internationally for sustained quality of output and contribution to the central theme and projects of the research unit.
  • To deliver master’s and doctoral students who are capable of lateral and critical thinking and who are able to find innovative solutions for challenges of justice and sustainability in South Africa and the region as it relates to the rest of the world.
  • To devote the research unit’s efforts to the production of focused research output of high quality, relevant in the local, regional and international context.
  • To be involved in developmental aspects/activity, be of service to the community and provide expertise on a voluntary basis.
  • To continually improve the research projects and other output of the research unit in view of national and regional priorities in a legal context and challenges posed by the scholarly community, the country, continent and the world.
  • To utilise "juridical science and law" to find innovative solutions and to solve developmental problems in South Africa and the region.
  • To participate in discussions on legal issues pertaining to the challenges of justice and sustainability in South Africa and the region and to provide legal-based solutions. 

Law, Justice and Sustainability

“Law, justice and sustainability” is the complex, but overarching name of the Research Unit.

“Law” relates to juridical science, including the collection of broad normative and institutional arrangements that govern human behaviour inter se and between humans and non-human entities. It includes practical, philosophical and theoretical considerations.

“Justice” encompasses both procedural and substantive considerations of law in its broadest sense and relates to development, human rights issues such as equality, access to justice, access to resources, right to culture and religion, children rights, socio-economic empowerment, recognition, livelihoods, and the environment, among others.

“Sustainability” relates to the spheres wherein law and justice function and encompasses three elements that need to be balanced: social elements (including broader human processes); environmental elements (such as ecological processes and sustainable cities); and economic elements (such as trade, finance, investment, virtual property and arbitration).

A contemporary vision of sustainability as expressed through the SDGs is addressed in the projects of the Research Unit.

  The research unit conducts research in various projects.

Structure of the Research Unit

  1. Director of the Research Unit:  Prof Willemien du Plessis

  2. Research Professor:  Prof LJ Kotzé and Prof Avitus Agbor

  3. Personal assistant of Research Director: Rieëtte Venter

  4. Project Leaders: