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Professor Benyam Dawit Mezmur - A Career Championing Children’s Rights

Author: Khanyisile Brukwe

Professor Mezmur is an academic who specialises in children’s rights law and is an Associate Professor of Law at the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights at UWC.

(Published - 4 December 2018)

South Africa’s KidsRights Foundation hosted the International Children’s Peace Prize on 20 November 2018 in Cape Town. This prize is awarded annually to a child who fights courageously for children’s rights.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu - who has been the patron of The International Children’s Peace Prize and KidsRights for 10 years - awarded the prize to David Hogg, Emma González, Jaclyn Corin and Matt Deitsch. Their societal issue was eradicating gun violence in schools, and they initiated the March for Our Lives campaign aimed at promoting safe schools and communities in the United States.

“After experiencing gun violence first hand, we were tired of the repeated violence in our schools and communities. We no longer wanted to be silent; we had to fix this plague for our future generations,” they shared via email after they had won the coveted prize.

The winner is selected by an independent expert committee for the International Children’s Peace Prize, which is comprised of international children’s rights experts, including Professor Benyam Dawit Mezmur from the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

Professor Mezmur, is an academic who specialises in children’s rights law and is an Associate Professor of Law at the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights at UWC. He is also the Deputy Dean for Research at the Faculty of Law.

He was the Chairperson - from 2015 to 2017 - of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Previously, he has worked as a Legal Officer for The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF). He was also the Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child from 2013 till 2015.

Additionally, Professor Mezmur has been awarded research fellowships by the Universities of Utrecht and Groningen (Netherlands) and Abo Akademi (Finland), and has presented in national and international conferences.

He is also the Senior Researcher and Coordinator of the Children’s Rights Project at the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights. The project aims to understand and propose improvements in relation to the conceptualisation and implementation of legislation in relation to children and their rights.​

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