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Alice, 24 March 2022 -- The University of Fort Hare (UFH) today announced that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has renewed the UNESCO Oliver Tambo Chair of Human Rights for an additional period of four years until 27 March 2025.

The UNESCO Oliver Tambo Chair was the very first UNESCO chair in South Africa, and was established at UFH in 1996. UFH is the only Eastern Cape university with a coveted UNESCO chair. 

Globally, only 877 chairs are available from UNESCO through its  UNITWIN/UNCESCO chairs programme that covers 70 disciplines in 117 countries at 850 institutions including Harvard University, the University of Chicago, University of London, Peking University and the University of Bonn, amongst other.

In correspondence to UFH’s Vice-Chancellor, UNESCO Future of Learning and Innovation Director Dr Sobhi Tawil said: “the Chair [at UFH] has been working within its main objectives on democracy and human rights, carrying out a wide range of activities, from educational programmes, publications, to conferences and capacity building initiatives.”

Dr. Tawil continued: “UNESCO has approved the nomination of Prof. Nomthandazo Ntlama Makhanya, as the new Chairholder of this UNESCO Chair.”

Commenting on the development, UFH Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu said:

“This renewal affirms that UFH is playing an influential role in uplifting human rights and development debates not only in our immediate rural communities, the Eastern Cape and South Africa, but on a global stage.”

The Vice-Chancellor said that the Eastern Cape remains underdeveloped, and that government, development agencies, civil society and private sector must leave no stone unturned to restore human rights and dignity in the region through interventions.

Professor Buhlungu said that state capture, corruption, climate change and water security, slow economic recovery as well as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict are direct and indirect dangers to human rights not only in the Eastern Cape but beyond provincial borders.

“UFH researchers across all our faculties are working around the clock to generate new and groundbreaking knowledge to provide answers to societal problems, to unlock new terrains and to advance developmental agendas.  Government and private sector are empowered through these contributions to plan, deliver and invest with the aim of improving human rights,” he said.