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Danwood Chirwa

Danwood Chirwa


Danwood Mzikenge Chirwa holds a PhD from the University of the Western Cape, an LLM from the University of Pretoria, and an LLB from the U niversity of Malawi. Currently, he is Head of the Department of Public Law, Professor and junior fellow at the University of Cape Town. He was a Director of the Open Democracy and Advice Centre (ODAC, 2006-2009), and Secretary-General of the African Network of Constitutional Lawyers (2007-2008). H e is a Director of RAPCAN (a South African child rights and welfare NGO based in Cape Town) and the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (a South African NGO focussing on socio-economic rights). He is a contributing editor to the South African Journal of Criminal Justice (since 2006) and an Editor of the ESR Review (since 2002) and has also served on the Editorial Board of the Acta Juridica (2006). Currently, he serves on the Advisory Boards of the Constitutional Court Review, the City of Hon Kong University Law Review, and the University of Ilorin Law Journal. He is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Malawi Law Journal. Danwood Chirwa has published on various human rights issues - such as privatization and human rights, non-state actors and human rights, children's rights, women's rights, economic, social and cultural rights, domestic protection of human rights, and international protection of human rights. He has also worked in collaboration international and African-based NGOs, such as the Rights and Democracy (Canadian), Community Law Centre (South African), African Child Policy Forum (Ethiopian based), ESCR-Net (USA based), Southern African Human Rights Trust (Zimbabwean), and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (Malawian). He has been and is an external examiner of undergraduate courses and PhD and LLM theses for a number of universities including the City of Hong Kong University, the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Pretoria, the University of Fort Hare, Stellenbosch University, the University of Malawi, the University of the North-West, and the University of the Western Cape.

Courses taught

  • International Protection of Human Rights PBL6031S (now PBL5631S) (postgrad)
  • International Rights of the Child PBL6028F (now PBL5628F) (postgrad)
  • Administrative Law PBL4001W (undergrad)
  • Current Issues in Constitutional Law PBL5042F (now PBL4105F) (undergrad)


Postgraduate supervision

LLM and PhD supervision in all areas of human rights especially economic, social and cultural rights, domestic protection and implementation of human rights, children's rights, regional protection of human rights, aspects of the international protection of human rights, national human rights institutions, NGOs, non-state actors, horizontal application of human rights, and privatisation.

Current and planned major projects for the next five years

  • A book on Constitutionalised administrative law: The case of Malawi
  • A book on Children's rights in an African context
  • An edited book on Malawian Constitutional law


Select publications

Human Rights under the Malawian Constitution (Juta & Co Ltd, 2011) 555 pages.

(and Lia Nijzink) (eds) Accountable Government in Africa: Perspectives from Public Law and Political Studies (Cape Town: UCT Press/United National University Press, 2012) 302 pages.

(and Redson Kapindu) ‘Accountable governance and the role of national human rights institutions: The experience of the Malawian Human Rights Commission' in DM Chirwa & Lia Nijzink (eds) Accountable Government in Africa: Perspectives from Public Law and Political Studies (Cape Town: UCT Press/United National University Press, 2012) 140 - 159.

‘Liberating Malawi's administrative justice jurisprudence from its common law shackles' (2011) 55(1) Journal of African Law 105 - 127.

‘State responsibility for human rights' in Mashood A Baderin & Manisuli Ssenyonjo (eds) Human Rights Law: Six Decades after the UDHR and Beyond (Surrey: Ashgate, 2010) 397 - 410.

‘African regional human rights system: The promise of recent jurisprudence on social rights' in M Langford (ed) Socio-economic rights jurisprudence: Emerging trends in comparative and international law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008) 323 - 338.

‘Combating child poverty: The role of economic, social and cultural rights' in Children's rights in Africa: A legal perspective (ed. Julia Sloth-Nielsen) (London: Ashgate Publishers, 2008) 91 - 108.

‘In search of philosophical justifications and suitable models for the horizontal application of human rights' (2008) 8(2) African Human Rights Law Journal 294 - 311.

(and Thoko Kaime) ‘Where are the missing pieces? Constructing a mosaic of the CRC and the African Children's Charter in Malawi's law and policy' (2008) 2(1) Malawi Law Journal 85 - 114.

‘Upholding the sanctity of rights: A principled approach to limitations and derogations under the Malawian Constitution (2007) 1(1) Malawi Law Journal 3 - 32.

‘The horizontal application of constitutional rights in a comparative perspective', (2006) 10(2) Law, Democracy and Development 21-48.

'Reclaiming (wo)manity: The merits and demerits of the African Protocol on Women's Rights', (2006) LIII Netherlands International Law Review 63-96.

'The long march to binding obligations of transnational corporations in international human rights law', (2006) 22(1) South African Journal on Human Rights 76-98.

'A full loaf is better than half: The constitutional protection of economic, social and cultural rights in Malawi', 49(2) (2005) Journal of African Law 207-241.

'Towards enhanced citizenship and poverty eradication: A critique of Grootboom from a gender perspective' (with Sibonile Khoza) in A Gouws (ed), Women and citizenship in South Africa (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005) 137-156.

The constitutional implications of commercialising water in South Africa' (with Sean Flynn) in D. MacDonald & C. Ruiters (eds.) The age of commodity: Water Privatization in Southern Africa (London: Earthscan, 2005) 59-76.

'The doctrine of state responsibility as a potential means of making private actors accountable for human rights' (2004) 5(1) Melbourne Journal of International Law 1-36.

'The implications of recent jurisprudence on penalties in international criminal law for penal regimes in post independent Africa' (2004) 17(2) South African Journal of Criminal Justice 193-219.

'Privatisation of water in Southern Africa: A human rights perspective' (2004) 4(2) African Human Rights Law Journal 218-241.

'Water privatisation and socio-economic rights in South Africa', (2004) 8(2) Law, Democracy and Development 181-206.

'Obligations of non-state actors in relation to socio-economic rights: The South African Constitution' (2003) 7(1) Mediterranean Journal of Human Rights 29-68.

'Democratisation in Malawi 1994-2002: Completing the vicious circle?' (2003) 19 (2) South African Journal on Human Rights 316-338.

'The right of access to essential medicine in international law: Its implications for the obligations of states and non-state actors' (2003) 19(4) South African Journal on Human Rights 541-566.

‘The merits and demerits of the African Charter on the rights and welfare of the Child' (2002) 10 The International Journal of Children's Rights 157-177.