Christof Heyns

Christof Heyns

Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria

Areas of expertise

International Human Rights Law  /  Right to Life  /  Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights  /  Right of Peaceful Assembly  /  African Regional Human Rights System

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 also teaches human rights at Oxford University and is a member of the United Nations (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 on 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. He led the drafting the following international law instruments: the Minnesota Protocol on the investigation of potentially unlawful death (2016); UN human rights guidance on the use of less-lethal weapons in law enforcement (2020); the UN Human Rights Committee’s General Comment 37 on the right of peaceful assembly (2020); and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights General Comment 3 on the right to life (2015).

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.

Taught Courses

Repression of demonstrations in Cairo, Egypt Master in transitional justice - Course

The Right to Life and The Right of Peaceful Assembly during Transitions

This course aims at providing students with an overview of the scope and limits of two rights that are often of central importance during transitions: the right to life and the right of peaceful assembly.

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Egypt, Cairo, 2011: Makeshift barricade outside interior ministry gate. Short Course

The Right to Life and the Right of Peaceful Assembly in Transitions

This online short course will examine the protection afforded by international human rights law in these contexts, with a specific focus on the right to peaceful assembly – which is at the heart of such movements –, and the right to life – which is often violated during such transitional moments.

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Publications

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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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 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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