Dr Gus Waschefort
(England and Wales) 2021
(South Africa) 2007
Gus Waschefort is an international law academic and practitioner with regional expertise focusing on the African continent. In addition to his role at Guernica 37 Chambers, Gus is an Associate Professor of international law at the University of Essex and is internationally recognised as a leading authority on the law and policy regarding child protection during armed conflict, as well as the regulation of armed conflict in an African context.
Gus is widely published in leading international law publications, such as the Oxford Handbook on International Law and Global Security, the International Review of the Red Cross, the Journal of International Peacekeeping and the African Human Rights Law Journal. Key themes in his published work includes, an African regional understanding of public international law and its development, the nexus between peace and security and environmental protection in the African context, the regulation of Armed Conflict in Africa, the protection of children during armed conflict, and the enforcement mechanisms of the African human rights system.
He has held several visiting appointments, including at New York University’s Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice; the Swedish Defence University; the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria; and most recently as Visiting Professor at Palacký University in the Czech Republic. Gus is also one of the invited faculty of the exclusive United Nations Audiovisual Library on International Law.
Gus frequently speaks at high-level international conferences, workshops and expert groups. Recent examples include an invited keynote address at the 3e cours panafricain francophone avancé de droit international humanitaire, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, 9 January 2019 and participation in the keynote panel of the conference on the “ICC ́s Contribution to the Development and Enforcement of International Humanitarian Law”, Palacký University Olomouc, Faculty of Law (Czech Republic), 11-12 February 2021. Moreover, he has presented his research at the leading conferences on international law, including, the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law, the Annual Conference of the European Society of International Law and the Biennial Conference of the International Law Association.
Between 2013 and 2016 Gus served as member of the International Human Rights Law Committee of the International Law Association. The Committee concluded its programme of work during August 2016, with the adoption of its final report on ‘International Human Rights Law and the International Court of Justice (ICJ): The Domestic Implementation of Judgments/Decisions of Courts and Other International Bodies that Involve International Human Rights Law’.
Gus has extensive experience working with the UN Human Rights architecture. Between August 2010 and February 2013, he served as legal advisor to then UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns. In this capacity, he played a central role in strategizing responses to significant violations of the right to life.
Gus has a predominantly international focus in his practice. He is currently involved in a range of matters with international law elements. This includes: supporting in matters relating to the Kosovo Specialist Chambers; advising on accountability mechanisms in the Middle Eastern context; and assisting on matters related to immunities and privileges before international organizations, as well as the sanctions regimes in the US and UK. He is also involved in training and strategic engagement regarding domestic prosecution for atrocity crimes and has recently contributed to a submission to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Court in terms of Article 15 of the Rome Statue.
Afghanistan Human Rights Training (2017)
Designed and delivered two bespoke training courses to members and leadership of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. The first course was a week-long intensive programme on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, delivered in person in Bamyan, Afghanistan. The second course was a three-day intensive programme on international humanitarian law, delivered in person in Delhi, India.
Swedish Military Officer Training (2014)
Delivered a training course as part of officer progression training (to officers with the rank of Major) on international humanitarian law at the Swedish Defence University from October to December 2014.
Crimes Against Humanity in Zimbabwe (2013)
Instructed as member of the legal team that sought to compel the South African Police to investigate crimes against humanity perpetrated in Zimbabwe on the basis of universal jurisdiction through High Court litigation.
Eduardo Nicolás Cruz Sánchez et al v Peru, Inter-American Court of Human Rights (2013)
Assisted the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in preparing his amicus curiae submission in the matter of Eduardo Nicolás Cruz Sánchez et al v Peru, which related to the application of the right to life in the context of a hostage rescue operation during armed conflict.
Policing of Protests (2012-2013)
Assisted and advised the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on his thematic study and report to the UN Human Rights Council on the right to life in the context of protests.
Targeted Killings by the US (2010-2013)
Assisted and advised the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on the cross-cutting thematic issue of targeted killing operations and the use of lethal unmanned aerial vehicles by the US armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Represented the Office of the Special Rapporteur at international events, including, a closed expert conference hosted at the Human Rights Institute at Columbia University School of Law as lead discussant on the theme 'Special Forces, the CIA & Civilian Contractors'; and addressing senior French military officers (deputy head of the armed forces) on ‘The Right to Life and Serious Technological Asymmetries on the Battlefield’ on 8 April 2011 at Écoles d’officiers de l’Armée de l’air Base aérienne 701 Salon- de-Provence (Bouches du Rhône) (French Air Force officers Training School, Air Force Base 701, Salon-de-Provence), France.
Capital Punishment (2010-2013)
Assisted and advised the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on the cross-cutting thematic issue of capital punishment. This work involved advice and research in relation to capital punishment globally, which is reflected in the Special Rapporteur’s 2012 report to the UN General Assembly (A/67/275), as well as in relation to specific incidences of capital punishment and the passing of capital sentences, in which states were directly engaged with.
Somali Police Oversight Training (2012)
Delivered training to the Independent Somali Police Oversight Mechanism on the rights of detained persons and persons in conflict with the law.
Protection of Journalists (2012)
Assisted and advised the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary of arbitrary executions on a thematic study on the right to life of journalists. Acted as internal lead on this project and represented the Office of the Special Rapporteur at several high-level international forums, including, serving as member of a twelve-person expert group consulted on the right to life of journalists. Main consultation took place at the University of Cambridge, 1 to 2 March 2012. The event was co-organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Centre of Governance and Human Rights of the University of Cambridge. Also participated, as accredited delegate, in the UN Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity held from 13 to 14 September 2011 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.
Extrajudicial executions in Sri Lankan (2011)
Lead a multi-disciplinary team on behalf of the Office of the Special Rapporteur, investigating the mass killing of civilians during the closing phases of the civil war in Sri Lanka. The investigation focused largely on determining the authenticity and veracity of video material depicting executions. The team involved high-level expertise in international law, forensic medicine, firearms ballistics and video and sound forensics. The investigation led to the Special Rapporteur reporting to the Human Rights Council on 31 May 2011, with a high level of confidence, that the video material depicts actual executions that are extrajudicial. This work directly contributed to the passing of a resolution by the Human Rights Council condemning Sri Lanka for their actions and calling for accountability.
Killing of Osama bin Laden (2011)
Advised and strategized the Special Rapporteur’s response to US Special Forces Operation Neptune Spear on 2 May 2011, resulting in the killing of Osama bin Laden and four others. In contrast to the broad support for the operation, the Special Rapporteur called upon the US to disclose key information to allow proper analysis of the legality of the operation.
PhD, SOAS, University of London (2012)
LLB, Pretoria – distinction (2006)
The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple
Legal Practice Council, South Africa
Appointments and Awards
Associate Professor, Essex Law School and Human Rights Centre (September 2016 to present)
Visiting Professor, Palacký University, Czech Republic (October 2021)
Extraordinary Lecturer, Centre for Human Rights, and Fellow of the Institute for International Law in Africa, both of the University of Pretoria (1 October 2017 – December 2020)
Invited Faculty, United Nations Audio Visual Library Lecture Series: ‘International Law and Child Soldiers’ (9 August 2016) https://legal.un.org/avl/ls/Waschefort_LAC.html
Co-Editor in Chief, South African Yearbook of International Law (2013 to 2016)
Assistant Editor, African Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law (2014 to 2017)
International Editorial Board, The Journal of Trafficking and Human Exploitation (2015 to 2018)
Member of the International Human Rights Law Committee of the International Law Association (November 2013 to August 2016)
Visiting Researcher, Swedish Defense University, Stockholm, Sweden (1 October 2014 to 31 December 2014)
Visiting Scholar, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University (November 2012 to January 2013)
International Law and Child Soldiers, Hart Publishing: Oxford (2015) (blind peer reviewed, 254 pages)
South African Yearbook of International Law 2014 (Vol. 40), Juta Publishing: Cape Town (with D Tladi and N Botha)
South African Yearbook of International Law 2013 (Vol. 39), Centre for Public Law Studies, UNISA (with N Botha)
Chapters in books
‘Regionalism in the Development of the Law of Armed Conflict’ in S Sivakumaran (ed) Making and Shaping the Law of Armed Conflict, Oxford University Press (currently implementing final feedback from editor).
‘The Protection of Child Soldiers Against Intra-Party Violence during Armed Conflict’ in M Faix and O Svaček (eds.) Development of IHL in the Jurisprudence and Practice of the ICC, Palgrave (forthcoming, 2023).
‘Wild fauna and flora protection’ in R Geiß and N Melzer (eds.) The Oxford Handbook on International Law in Global Security, Oxford University Press (2021) 606-623
‘Child Soldiers and Human Trafficking’ in CRJJ Rijken, R Piotrowicz & B Uhl (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Human Trafficking, Routledge (2017) 135-156
‘The Subject-Matter Jurisdiction and Interpretive Competence of African Regional Human Rights Mechanisms in Relation to International Humanitarian Law’ African Human Rights Law Journal 20 (2020) 41-77
‘Implications of Children’s Rights for Military Justice in the Context of Members of the Armed Forces Younger than the Age of Eighteen’ Journal of International Peacekeeping 21(5) (2016) 275-301
‘Africa and the Law of Armed Conflict: The more things change, the more they stay the same’ International Review of the Red Cross 902 (2016) 593-624
‘Gravity as a Requirement in International Criminal Prosecutions: Implications for South African Courts’ Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa 47(1) (2014) 38-63
‘An Issues-Based Approach to “Human Rights”’ (2012) 37 South African Yearbook of International Law 61-81
‘The Pseudo Legal Personality of Non-State Armed Groups in International Law’ (2011) 36 South African Yearbook of International Law 226-236
‘Justice for Child Soldiers? The RUF Trial of the Special Court for Sierra Leone’ Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies 1 (2010) 189-204
‘Drawing the Boundaries between Terrorism and Crimes Against Humanity’ SA Public Law (2007) 22 (2) 457-476
‘Journalists in War Zones: Crossing from the Newsroom into the Arena’ De Jure (2007) 40 (2) 379-383
Feature Articles in Popular Media
‘Child Soldiers: The Legacy of East African Conflict’ De Kat Magazine (July/August 20
Public International Law
The African Region
International Humanitarian Law
International Human Rights Law
Environmental protection in the context of regional security in Africa
International Criminal Law