Christof Heyns

Christof Heyns

Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria

Areas of expertise

International Human Rights Law  /  Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions  /  Right to Life  /  Rule of Law  /  Regional Human Rights Mechanisms  /  Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights  /  Institutional Reform

Christof Heyns is Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria and Director of its Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa.

He was recently elected a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, the independent expert body that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Professor Heyns is recognized internationally as a leading expert in the field of international human rights law, including right to life issues and regional human rights mechanisms, and has published widely on these matters.

From 2010 to 2016, he was UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. During his mandate, he notably focused on the use of force by private security providers in law enforcement contexts; the proper management of assemblies; the use of drones in armed conflict or counter-terrorism operations; autonomous weapons; the death penalty and the role of forensic science in protecting the right to life.

Professor Heyns was formerly Director of the Centre for Human Rights in the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, as well as Dean of that Faculty. He regularly teaches at Oxford and at the American University in Washington, D.C.

He has been a Humboldt Fellow at Heidelberg University, a Fulbright Scholar at Yale Law School and a Fulbright Fellow at Harvard Law School.

Taught Courses and Research Projects

Peru, Lima. Anti-riot policemen during a demonstration. Project

Current Human Rights Challenges

This initiative aims at creating a platform allowing leading academics, experts and practitioners who work on right to life issues. It also develops research identifying and discussing some of the cutting-edge development as far as this seminal right is concerned, in the human rights, humanitarian law and the violence reduction contexts.

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Egypt, Cairo. A protester standing in Mansour Street near to the junction of Mohammed Mahmoud Street LLM - Course

The Right to Life

This course explores the legal and other protection given to this right, limitations on the right, and accountability where the right is violated.

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Drawing of soldiers on a wall. Master in transitional justice - Course

Human Rights, the Rule of Law and Institutional Reform: An Introduction

This course explores the international dimension of the rule of law and its promotion in transitional contexts, focusing on institutional reform and guarantees of non-recurrence.

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Publications

Cover of the The Oxford Handbook of International Human Rights Law

Universality and the growth of regional human rights systems

December 2013

Christof Heyns, Magnus Killander

Oxford University Press

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Cover of Protecting the Right to Life of Journalists: The Need for a Higher Level of Engagement

Protecting the Right to Life of Journalists: The Need for a Higher Level of Engagement

May 2013

Christof Heyns, Sharath Srinivasan

Human Rights Quarterly

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Cover of Human rights and the use of autonomous weapons systems (AWS) during domestic law enforcement

Human rights and the use of autonomous weapons systems (AWS) during domestic law enforcement

May 2016

Christof Heyns

Human Rights Quarterly

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Cover of The international law framework regulating the use of armed drones

The International Law Framework Regulating the Use of Armed Drones

October 2016

Christof Heyns, Dapo Akande, Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne, Thompson Chengeta

International and Comparative Law Quarterly

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