SU prof appointed to prestigious UN post


Prof. Thulisile “Thuli” Madonsela, director of the center for social justice at the Faculty of Law at Stellenbosch University (SU), has been appointed as an external member of the United Nations (UN) scientific council for independent advice on breakthroughs in science and technology.

SU says in a statement that this prestigious appointment by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, indicates recognition for Madonsela’s exceptional contribution to social justice, constitutionalism, human rights, good governance and the rule of law.

The appointment was made as part of the council’s initiative to strengthen the role of the UN as a trusted source of data and scientific practices, and to provide independent insights on the intersection of science, technology, ethics, governance and sustainable development. .

“Scientific and technological advances can strengthen efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – but they also give rise to ethical, legal and political conundrums that require multilateral solutions,” Guterres said.

“My scientific advisory board will strengthen the role of the United Nations as an authoritative source of data and evidence, and provide advice to me and my senior management team.”

Madonsela says she was surprised when she was initially approached about the position as she is not a scientist.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to be part of the UN’s scientific advisory board. This appointment highlights the importance of promoting collaboration between the scientific community and decision makers as well as facing the complex moral, social and political challenges that the rapidly changing scientific and technological advances of our time bring,” she says.

“It is a credit to the center for social justice at SU that our work has been noticed by the UN. It is my hope and belief that this appointment will complement and strengthen our centre’s efforts to promote social justice principles in all policy issues, while interdisciplinary collaboration – especially between law, science and technology – will also be promoted. I believe it is also good for our university, our country and the continent.”

Prof. Wim de Villiers, SU’s rector and vice-chancellor, says this prestigious role is proof of Madonsela’s significant contribution to the disciplines of law, human rights and good government practices.

“Her dedication and tireless efforts to promote social justice, especially these days as director of the center for social justice, have a great impact internationally. As a university, we are very proud of her for this achievement. We look forward to her invaluable contributions to make a significant difference worldwide,” says De Villiers.