Dr. Alex Boraine Comes to CUSSW as Part of Distinguished Visiting Scholars Program

February 1, 2004 @ 5:00 am

The Distinguished Visiting Scholars Program (DVS) established by Dean Jeanette Takamura in 2002, continues to bring renowned national and international scholars and experts from other disciplines to the School. On March 1st Dr. Alex Boraine, President of The Tides Center / International Center for Transitional Justice and former Deputy Chair, South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission, shared his insights on his career spent promoting social justice and enabling reconciliation in South Africa and other countries.

Use Real Player to see video of Dr. Boraine’s presentation.  Video.

Dr. Boraine is a specialist in, as he puts it, helping countries in “transition” – like Rwanda, Chechnya, and his native South Africa – as they let go of their “legacies of oppression and human rights abuses” and rather than “merely dealing with the past, making a bridge to the future.” Dr. Boraine, who was recommended to the School as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar by CUSSW alumna Ann Sand (MSW ’54), considers his homeland of South Africa to be an interesting model. For 10 years it has existed as a democracy, but only after 300 years without social justice for the majority of its populace. With his work in different countries as a guide and his experience negotiating delicate but crucial settlements, Dr. Boraine has become an expert in leading countries-in-transition and the victims of human rights abuses to a “new way of life with justice for all and a commitment to a human-right culture.” At the heart of this, says Dr. Boraine, are “acts of conscious memory” whereby the victims provide oral histories of the abuses they suffered. Truth and reconciliation commissions, which Dr. Boraine has led in places such as East Timor, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Peru, are vital to this process.

Dr. Boraine is a longtime advocate of social justice, both in his native South Africa, and around the world. He was elected to the South African Parliament in 1974 as a member of the Progressive Party. In 1980, he was appointed as Chairman of the Federal Council of the Progressive Federal Party, a position he held until 1986, when he resigned his parliamentary seat to form the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) with Dr. van Zyl Slabbert. In 1994, Dr. Boraine founded Justice in Transition, a non-governmental organization whose objective was to help South Africans deal with the history and ongoing effects of apartheid. In 1996, President Nelson Mandela appointed Dr. Boraine as the Vice Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa. The TRC was established to facilitate the nation’s process of coping with the long-term effects of the apartheid years, and to address the human rights abuses and violence attributable to both sides during the same period.

Lisa Ferri
February, 2004
Updated: March, 2004
Updated: April, 2004