Christopher John Robert Dugard (born 23 August 1936 in Fort Beaufort), known as John Dugard, is a South African professor of international law. His main academic specializations are in Roman-Dutch law, public international law, jurisprudence, human rights, criminal procedure and international criminal law. He has served on the International Law Commission, the primary UN institution for the development of international law, and has been active in reporting on human-rights violations by Israel in the Palestinian territories.
He has written several books on apartheid, human rights, and international law, in addition to coauthoring textbooks on criminal law and procedure and international law. He has also written extensively on South African apartheid.
John Dugard earned his BA (1956) and LLB (1958) degrees at Stellenbosch University (South Africa) and a second LLB (1965) and LL.D. degree, a Diploma in International Law (1965), and an LL.D. Degree (1980), all from Cambridge University.
From 1975-1977, Dugard was the Dean and a Professor of Law at the University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa). From 1978-1990, he was the Director of the University of Witwatersrand's Centre for Applied Legal Studies, "a research centre committed to the promotion of Human Rights in South Africa".
Dugard was Director of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge from 1995-1997.
In 1998, Dugard was appointed Chair in Public International Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands and as Director of the Advanced LL.M. programme in Public International Law.
In 2000, he served as Judge ad hoc in the cases concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Burundi) (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda) and (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Rwanda) at the International Court of Justice.
Dugard visited the Palestine Center in Washington DC in March 2009 and gave a lecture entitled "Apartheid and Occupation under International Law." The video and the transcript of the lecture were made available online.
Following the recurrence of the Palestinian intifada in late 2000, John Dugard was appointed as Chairman of a UN Commission on Human Rights inquiry commission on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories. In 2001, he was appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur to the commission on "the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967". He was charged with submitting annual reports and recommendations to the UN concerning the situation of international human rights and humanitarian law.
In its first special session in July 2006, the Human Rights Council dispatched an urgent fact-finding mission headed by Dugard to report on the situation in the Palestinian territories. On 26 September 2006, Dugard reported that the "standards of human rights in the Palestinian territories have fallen to intolerable new levels".
Dugard visited the Palestine Center in Washington DC in March 2009 and gave a lecture entitled "Apartheid and Occupation under International Law."
He is currently a door tenant at 20 Essex Street Chambers in London, who specialise in Public International Law.
In a report released in February 2007, Dugard stated "Israel's laws and practices certainly resemble aspects of apartheid" in the occupied Palestinian territory. "It is difficult to resist the conclusion that many of Israel's laws and practices violate the 1966 Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination," says the report. Dugard also stated, "Discrimination against Palestinians occurs in many fields. Moreover, the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid appears to be violated by many practices, particularly those denying freedom of movement to Palestinians."
Referring to Israel's actions in the occupied West Bank, he wrote, "Can it seriously be denied that the purpose [...] is to establish and maintain domination by one racial group (Jews) over another racial group (Palestinians) and systematically oppressing them? Israel denies that this is its intention or purpose. But such an intention or purpose may be inferred from the actions described in this report."
Critics noted that Dugard was appointed in 2001 as an unpaid expert by the UN Human Rights Commission to investigate only violations by the Israeli side. Israel and the U.S. therefore dismissed his reports as one-sided. Israel's UN ambassador in Geneva, Itzhak Levanon, said that "Professor Dugard will better serve the cause of peace by ceasing to enflame the hatred between Israelis and Palestinians, who have embarked on serious talks to solve this contentious situation." An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Mark Regev, said it was "rank politicisation" of the UN's human rights apparatus. "This is the promoting of partisan, one-sided political attitudes which frankly don't serve the interests of anyone who is seriously interested in human rights."
In an August 2009 article for the Huffington Post, Dugard compared the current situation in the occupied Palestinian territory to South African apartheid. "Israel is long overdue," he wrote, "to undergo the same racial reckoning and transformation that the United States underwent in the 1960s and South Africa passed through in the 1990s." He stated that Israeli settlers had two choices: to "leave the occupied territories" or "live under Palestinian law." And he declared that "Israel must make the choice in the weeks ahead whether it intends to continue ruling over the Palestinians indefinitely or will step back from the dual system of law and apartheid it appears poised to embrace under the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu."
Dugard also compared Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territory to apartheid in South Africa in a November 2011 article for Al Jazeera. While acknowledging some distinctions between the two systems, he said that "in practice, there is little difference," with both regimes being "characterized by discrimination, repression and territorial fragmentation (that is, land seizures)." He said that Israel's "confiscation of Palestinian farms under the pretext of building a security wall" was reminiscent of South African actions against blacks, and argued that "Israel has gone beyond apartheid South Africa in constructing separate (and unequal) roads for Palestinians and settlers." He also claimed that Israeli security forces, like the South African Security Police, "practiced torture on a large scale."
In a 2012 paper, Dugard reiterated his comparison of Israel and South Africa. "Israel does not recognize those who engage in resistance activities, either as combatants or as protesters, as 'political' prisoners as this would confer legitimacy on the cause that motivates them," wrote Dugard. "Instead they are termed ordinary criminals, security prisoners or, most frequently, 'terrorists.' South Africa too sought to denigrate its political prisoners in this way." He further maintained that "more Palestinians have been killed in targeted assassinations of combatants [by Israel] than were judicially executed in South Africa." He concluded that "However cruel and inhuman the conditions of Palestinian prisoners, however unfair the trials that sent them to prison, and however demeaning their characterization as 'criminals' or 'terrorists,' we should not forget that Palestinian prisoners are the fortunate ones. For they were not murdered by a regime that murders political opponents under the euphemism of 'targeted assassinations.'"
In a September 2012 article, he declared that Britain, as the original "Mandatory Power" governing what is now Israel under a League of Nations mandate, had violated a "sacred" obligation to Palestinians by supporting Israel over the decades and that the "jury is still out on the question whether Israel acted in self-defence or as an aggressor" in the Six-Day War. "Sadly Britain has done little to protect the human rights of the Palestinian people or to advance their independence," Dugard wrote. While questioning the legality of the 1947 UN resolution establishing Israel, he argued for the legitimacy of Palestine as a state, noting that it is a member of the League of Arab States and of UNESCO and that "between 120 and 130 states have recognised the state of Palestine in some way or another."
Dugard was one of 52 international figures who signed a 2012 letter calling for a military embargo against Israel on the eve of the International Day of Solidarity with the People of Palestine. Among the other signatories were Nobel Peace laureates Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Perez Esquível, performer Roger Waters, filmmakers Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, and authors Alice Walker and Naomi Klein. Citing "Israel's unchecked belligerence" and "subjugation of Palestinians," the letter argued that "Israel's attempt to justify [the] illegal use of belligerent and disproportionate military force as 'self-defence' does not stand up to legal - or moral - scrutiny, as states cannot invoke self-defence for acts that serve to defend an unlawful situation which they have created in the first place."
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour in 2004 to remove Dugard from the position of U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, for his "clearly demonstrated bias against the State of Israel." The ADL cited Dugard's report, "Question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine," in which, according to the ADL, he "presents personal convictions as fact, and goes well beyond reporting to an incendiary call for action by the international community against Israel." While "Dugard comprehensively presents as fact alleged Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinians," charged the ADL, his report made "little to no mention of Palestinian involvement in terrorism against Israel, of Palestinian arms smuggling tunnels, or rocket attacks against Israeli towns."
UN Watch criticized Dugard in 2006, protesting his appointment to lead a "fact-finding mission...on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories." Dugard's reports, complained UN Watch, "stand out, even by UN standards, for their virulently anti-Israel prejudice. Not only does Dugard systematically ignore Palestinian acts of terror and their victims, but he has gone so far as to laud Palestinian 'militarized groups armed with rifles, mortars, and Kassam-2 rockets [who] confront the [Israeli army] with new determination, daring, and success.'" Also, while "many UN figures...like to lambaste Israel," Dugard is "the only appointee of the UN who regularly rails against the UN-sponsored Quartet and its Road Map for Middle East Peace." Citing Dugard's statement about the recent capture by Hamas of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit, in which Dugard expressed sympathy "for all Israel's young soldiers compelled to serve in the army of an occupying power," UN Watch commented that "Dugard could not bring himself to express sympathy for the captured soldier without wrapping it in a sharp stab, drenched with cynicism, at Israel's morality. We've seen nothing to suggest Corporal Shalit has felt anything other than patriotic about his service." UN Watch further noted that while Dugard had criticized the use of the death penalty by the Palestinian Authority against Palestinian convicts, he had never made reference in his reports to "the terror faced daily by Israeli civilians" and "the attempted mega-terror attacks against Israeli skyscrapers, ports and fuel depots."
He is a member of the Institut de Droit International. Since 1997 he has been a member of the UN International Law Commission.
In April 2012, he received one of South Africa's highest civilian honors, the Order of the Baobab: Gold, in a ceremony conducted by President Jacob Zuma.