An Interview with John Dugard, South Africa’s “Father Of Human Rights”
By Michael Brull / New Matilda
November 23, 2016
“I would like to see a two-state solution materialize, because I do think that’s the best way to secure peace in the region. I really don’t see a single state being a peaceful state, because initially there will be a Jewish minority that controls the state, and that will lead to the kind of tension that we had in apartheid South Africa. And later I suspect that when the Palestinian Arab majority becomes the government, they will be discriminating against the Jewish minority.
So I think those who believe that a single state will be a peaceful democratic state in which Jews and Arabs will live peacefully together are being very naïve. I do think that a two state solution offers the best solution for a peaceful resolution of the dispute. But as I’ve indicated, I think that Israel is making a two-state solution virtually impossible, so we have to come to terms with the possibility of a single state.”
One of the leading opponents to South African apartheid, and later a prominent critic of Israel, John Dugard spoke with New Matilda’s Michael Brull recently.
In legal circles in South Africa, Dugard’s contributions are widely known, and are treated with something approaching reverence. From the early 1970’s, Dugard wrote scathing critiques of judges and legal academics in apartheid South Africa. He argued that whilst judges claimed to be merely impartial upholders of the law, in fact they were actively making choices to defend infringements on civil liberties and injustice.
Dugard also acted as lawyer, or legal consultant, in numerous cases challenging apartheid law and practices. In 1978, Dugard was the founding director of the University of Witwatersrand’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies. This innocuous name masked its agenda: it was a human rights center.
For voicing his critiques, Dugard “faced opprobrium and even prosecution (for quoting Dr. Nthatho Motlana, a banned person), but he did not waver,” [wrote Edwin Cameron in the South African Journal on Human Rights.] “The clear voice of Dugard’s denunciation of apartheid collusion by lawyers and judges deserves credit as one of the reasons why today we have a law-based constitutional order whose legitimacy is politically unquestioned.”