Using the law to advance justice and sustainability

It is easy to see how a lack of the proper application of the law, particularly in the South African context, may ultimately lead to anarchy because of those determined to sidestep it.

Fortunately, efforts such as those by the Research Unit for Law, Justice and Sustainability at the North-West University (NWU) are at the forefront of seeking innovative solutions to our country’s social and environmental challenges.

“The research unit utilises law to find innovative juridical solutions to advance justice and sustainability in South Africa and the region as a member of the international community of states and as an influential country on the African continent,” explains Prof Mitzi Wiese, who heads the research unit as its director.

The focus, she says, is on human vulnerability, environmental change, justice in practice and finance, trade and innovation.

Projects underway

According to Prof Wiese, the research unit has various projects dealing with cutting-edge and cross-cutting issues pertaining to both the public and private sectors.

All full-time academic staff members of the Faculty of Law participate in the work of the research unit in one of the four active research projects.

The environmental change project focuses its research on the interface between environmental sustainability, environmental justice, environmental governance and the law.

Since the world continues to evolve, the law needs to evolve with it. This is especially true in the areas of finance, trade and innovation, which perform a vital role in the evolvement of and interplay between the “real” and “virtual” worlds of society.

Members of the justice in practice project focus their research on the practical impact of the law on society. Of particular interest are questions around law and justice.

The vulnerable societies project deals with a variety of topics linked to the vulnerability of members of societies.

“South Africa operates within the context of the Southern African Development Community, the African Union and international law, and therefore several of the projects investigate these relationships,” says Prof Wiese.

The research unit also hosts the South African Research Chair initiative (SARCHi) Chair in Cities, Law and Environmental Sustainability, which is devoted to legal scholarship and research skills development for sustainable urban development in South Africa, the broader African region and beyond.

“We focus on the mentoring and career development of emerging researchers. Experienced researchers support emerging researchers to further their academic careers and contribute to the research unit’s projects,” concludes Prof Wiese.

Prof Mitzi Wiese is the director of the NWU’s Research Unit for Law, Justice and Sustainability.

Submitted on Wed, 09/27/2023 - 15:32