The July 2022 ceremony saw the conferral of two LLD Honoris Causa - on Advocate Geoff Budlender and Sir Franklin Berman. The conferral on each serves to recognise their enormous achievements in the field and practice of Law. While Advocate Budlender is an internationally-awarded human rights defender, Sir Frank Berman is world-renowned for his expertise in international arbitration.
In addition to receiving the honorary doctorate, Sir Frank Berman also delivered the July 2022 Graduation Speech. The full text of his speech is available here.
Sir Frank Berman - words shared by the Dean of Law, Professor Danwood Chirwa, on celebrating this conferral
A graduate of UCT (BA Mathematics 1959 and B Sc 1960), Sir Frank Berman has become one of the most accomplished and distinguished alumni of UCT. Through his illustrious career, he has not only proudly flown the UCT flag high on the international stage, he has also, directly, contributed significantly to increasing alumni engagement with and support to UCT.
Sir Frank’s career reflects the depth of his interest in international law and international dispute resolution, to which growth and development he has contributed immeasurably. Sir Frank developed his interest and experience in international law by joining the British Foreign Office in 1965 where he served in various capacities, including as Legal Adviser to the British Military Government in Berlin, as Legal Counsellor to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as Counsellor to the UK Mission to the United Nations, and as Legal Advisor the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Subsequently, since 2000, Sir Frank has been involved in high profile international arbitrations both as a private arbitrator and, since 2010, as a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), a long-standing intergovernmental organisation that provides legal resolution services to the international community. He has also served as an ad hoc judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the only court that issues binding decisions in international law.
He has most recently been involved in adjudicating two appeals at the ICJ. These eminent roles at the ICJ and PCA - along with being knighted in 1996, and appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 2006 (the highest recognition in legal service) - bear testament to the immense stature of Sir Frank in international law. Emeritus Professor John Dugard, perhaps South Africa’s most distinguished international law scholar commented that ‘Sir Frank … is today seen as an elder statesman among international lawyers.
It is our good fortune as the Faculty of Law that Sir Frank has become a great friend to, and long-time supporter of, the Faculty. We have for a number of years been able to award the Sir Frank Berman Prize in International Law in the LLB programme, and for the next three or four years we will be awarding a number of Sir Frank Berman Fellowships to final year LLB students for tuition.
I have known no other person who is as committed to international law and international justice as Sir Frank Berman.
Advocate Geoff Budlender - words shared by the Dean of Law, Professor Danwood Chirwa, on celebrating this conferral
If one speaks to people in the field of Law, there is unanimous agreement about the enormous contribution that Advocate Geoffrey Michael Budlender has made to the legal profession in general and to public interest litigation and social justice in particular.
A distinguished alumnus of the UCT Law Faculty (LLB Class of 1975), Advocate Budlender is considered a towering figure in the South African legal profession who commands respect throughout Africa and beyond.
His huge record of struggle for the greater good, for social justice and for human rights began as a student at UCT in the early 1970s when he was President of the UCT SRC and later as Chair of the National Council of the National Union of South African Students - leading student protests against the apartheid regime.
Soon after graduation and completing his articles, Geoff Budlender, with Arthur Chaskalson who would later become the first President of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, co-founded the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), of which Budlender was Director from 1993 to 1996, introducing to South Africa public interest litigation.
Advocate Budlender has appeared on behalf of marginalised and vulnerable groups in critically acclaimed, ground-breaking decisions on socio-economic rights. These cases have attracted worldwide attention and influenced the protection of these rights in many countries and at the United Nations in terms of their human rights system.
Starting with his pioneering at the Legal Resources Centre and his distinguished public service in the Department of Land Affairs, to his exemplary advocacy work as a legal practitioner, Advocate Budlender epitomises integrity, competent and ethical lawyering, and an enduring commitment to constitutionalism, equality and social justice.
Public interest litigation in South Africa and Africa as a whole would not be in the form and shape it is today without Advocate Budlender’s contribution.