SOAS University of London

First Director's Lecture Series event of the 2022/23 term: What is Social Justice? with Professor Thuli Madonsela

23 August 2022

Join us for Professor Thuli Madonsela’s public lecture at SOAS on 12 September at 6pm in-person at the Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre or virtually via Zoom. 

Professor Thuli Madonsela
Professor Thuli Madonsela

This public lecture will mark the start of the SOAS Director’s Lecture Series for 2022-23. 

Professor Thuli Madonsela, the Law Trust Chair in Social Justice at Stellenbosch University, and the former Public Protector in South Africa, will explore the topic of whether social justice should occupy a more prominent position on national agendas than is currently the case. 

In today’s world, the enormous gap in the distribution of wealth, income and public benefits is growing ever wider, reflecting a general trend that is morally unfair, politically unwise, and economically unsound. Injustices at the international level have produced a parallel increase in inequality between affluent and poor countries.  

But the idea that all individuals share a common humanity and possess fundamental rights simply because they are human, and that oppression and misery are not necessarily part of the human condition, has started to permeate the collective consciousness.  How do we then address existing inequalities?  Is the nature, legitimacy, and use of power fully understood by those who are privileged to hold political and administrative power globally? What is their understanding of self-interest, enlightened self-interest, general interest and the common good? The essence of democracy resides in a shared understanding of these concepts. 

The myriad difficulties in achieving social justice and the uneven progress towards it notwithstanding, continued pursuit of these ideals is essential; even if Sisyphus is unhappy, he must fulfil his duty. 

Professor Madonsela will explore this and more in her public lecture at SOAS on 12 September. 

Commenting on her visit to SOAS and the importance of social justice in the modern, global world, Professor Madonsela said:  

“I am looking forward to speaking at SOAS and engaging with the SOAS community on the topic of social justice. In this fast-moving world, most societies, and political regimes, including those founded on democratic principles and ideals, struggle to achieve and maintain a balance between individual freedom and social justice. As we face increased economic and social pressures, inequality is expanding across all societies and so the need for social justice strengthens, and we must come together to find solutions.” 

The SOAS Director’s Lecture Series focuses on the planetary questions of our time and how to enable a collective human response. In this historical moment, all of our big challenges – pandemics, climate change, inequality, social and political polarisation – are transnational in character and require a cohering of the human community. 
To attend this event in person or virtually, please sign up via Eventbrite. 

About Professor Thuli Madonsela  
Professor Thuli Madonsela is a Professor of Law occupying the Law Trust Research Chair in Social Justice at Stellenbosch University. She is also the founder of the Thuma Foundation for Democracy Leadership and Literacy and a Member of the African Academy of Sciences. The former Public Protector of South Africa and full-time Law Commissioner, Professor Madonsela was one of the drafters of the South African Constitution and a co-architect and drafter of several constitutionally- mandated laws, including the Equality Act, Employment Equity Act and Promotion of Administrative Justice Act. She has an extensive background in applied constitutional and administrative law principles mainly based on her public service years and her investigation of improper conduct in state affairs as Public Protector. She helped draft several international human rights instruments and country reports. She currently teaches Constitutional Law, Social Justice Law, Administrative Law, and Constitutional Governance and Ethical Leadership and has written and published extensively on these matters. An advocate of the High Court of South Africa and honorary member of the Botswana Bar, Professor Madonsela holds eight honorary law doctorates in addition to her normal law degrees and over 70 awards. Professor Madonsela is a mother of two and in her free time, an avid mountaineer who has summited Mt Kilimanjaro twice under the #Trek4Mandela campaign and for the Social Justice M-Plan and regularly hikes for the #Action4Inclusion campaign, a quest to end student debt. 

DLS 12 Sept