The Democratic Governance and Rights Unit (DGRU) is one of Africa’s leading research centres specialising in the area of judicial governance.

Based in the Department of Public law in the Law Faculty at the University of Cape Town (UCT), our main focus is on supporting judicial governance and providing free access to legal resources in Africa.

More about the DGRU:

  • Our work aspires to support the Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16) through strengthening judicial institutions and the rule of law and promoting human rights.
  • We are a member of the Global Judicial Integrity Network.
  • In 2018, we were recognised as an official resource partner of the Southern African Chief Justices Forum (SACJF).
  • We provided the background research to the Lilongwe Principles of Judicial Selection and Appointment, recently adopted by the SACJF.
  • We are a member of the global Free Access to Law Movement.

The DGRU was established in order for the faculty, and UCT more generally, to have a greater influence on democracy and human rights in South Africa and the greater Southern Africa region.

We are primarily concerned with issues of judicial governance on the African continent. We have established ourselves as one of the leading think-tanks on African judiciaries. We conduct our work through applied research, advocacy, training, and publishing legal information online.

We also provide practical work experience to postgraduate law students through a number of projects.

Vision and Mission

Our vision is of a socially just Africa, where equality and constitutional democracy are upheld by progressive and accountable legal systems, enforced by independent and transformative judiciaries, anchored by a strong rule of law.

Our mission is to advance social justice and constitutional democracy in Africa by:

  • Conducting applied and comparative research;
  • Supporting the development of an independent, accountable and progressive judiciary;
  • Promoting gender equality and diversity in the judiciary and in the legal profession;
  • Providing free access to law; and
  • Enabling scholarship, advocacy and online access to legal information.