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Conversation with Dr Graça Machel: intergenerational justice from a human rights perspective

Almost three years after receiving her honorary doctorate, Dr Graça Machel returned to Leiden University. Over the course of two days she spoke with students, researchers, and other interested persons, about human rights – particularly those of women and children – in a world in which these are continually threatened.

Ton Liefaard
26 oktober 2023

The Friday event's program featured a dynamic series of discussions, including a key note public lecture by Mrs. Dr. Graça Machel, introductory remarks by Rector Magnificus Professor Hester Bijl, and reflections from Professor Ann Skelton, Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and Lucy Opoka LLM. Following the lecture, participants had the chance to engage with Mrs. Dr. Machel during a morning coffee reception

In the subsequent sessions, experts delved into the core theme of intergenerational justice and human rights in the face of planetary crises in Africa along with Mrs. Dr. Graça Machel. The first discussion, moderated by Professor Ton Liefaard, the UNICEF Chair in Children's Rights, explored the meaning of intergenerational justice from a human rights perspective. Distinguished panelists included Dr. Shimelis Tsegaye, Director of Programmes at the Africa Child Policy Forum, Dr. Carolien Jacobs, Assistant Professor at the Van Vollenhoven Institute at Leiden University, and Visiting Prof. Dr. Mikiko Otani, former Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

After a brief break, the event continued with a session that contemplated justice in times of planetary crisis in Africa from a multidisciplinary perspective. Professor Marleen Dekker, Director of the African Studies Centre, moderated this session. The panel featured renowned experts, including Prof. Dr. Mirjam de Bruijn and Prof. Dr. Marja Spierenburg from Leiden University, Dr. Lidewyde Berckmoes, and Dr. Akinyinka Akinyoade from the African Studies Centre.

These discussions brought to the forefront critical issues regarding the protection and advancement of human rights in Africa during a period of significant planetary challenges. The insights shared by Dr. Graça Machel, as well as the collective expertise of the panelists, contributed to a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding intergenerational justice and human rights on the African continent.

The event provided an invaluable platform for interdisciplinary dialogue, reflecting on the pressing issues facing Africa and seeking innovative solutions. As the world grapples with planetary crises, such gatherings are essential to inspire collaborative efforts and drive positive change for current and future generations across the African continent. Mrs. Dr. Graça Machel's presence and the contributions of the esteemed experts made this event a significant first step forward in addressing these vital concerns and working towards a more just and sustainable future in Africa.

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