Symposium 2011: Keynote Speaker, Justice Zakeria Mohammed Yacoob

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies of the J. Reuben Clark School at Brigham Young University is honored to announced that Justice Zakeria Mohammed Yacoob, a member of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, will deliver the keynote address at the opening session of the Eighteenth Annual International Law and Religion Symposium. The session will be held in the Law School’s Moot Court Room at 7:00 p.m. MDT on Sunday, 2 October 2011, and will be available via live Internet streaming to viewers around the world.

Justice Yacoob was a member of the Independent Electoral Commission and of the Independent Panel of Experts that advised the National Assembly on the drafting of the South African Constitution. He has been a member of the Constitutional Court since 1998.

Blind since the age of sixteen months, young Zak Jacoob attended Durban’s Arthur Blaxall School for the Blind in his home town of Durban, South Africa, from 1956 to 1966. From 1967 to 1969 he studied for a BA at the University College, Durban (now the University of Durban-Westville), majoring in English and private law. He attained a law degree at an apartheid university for Indians. In May 2010 Justice Yacoob received an LLD honoris causa from the University of Fort Hare, South Africa. The same degree was conferred upon him by the University of KwaZulu-Natal in April 2011.

Justice Yacoob practiced as an advocate for twenty-five years. Much of his practice was concerned with using the law in the struggle against apartheid and for democracy. As a member of the underground of the African National Congress and other community organizations, he helped organize and mobilize communities.

Justice Yacoob has attended dozens of international conferences and workshops on topics as varied as blindness, children and democracy. In January 2008 Judge Yacoob attended the African Regional meeting on the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, held in Cairo and hosted by the Government of Egypt and supported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In February 2010 Judge Yacoob participated in a conference entitled Accountability Under Democratic Constitutions, held at Wiston House in Sussex, where he was a speaker during the session on “Form and Content of Written Constitutions.”

Justice Yacoob has a particular interest in the enforcement of socio-economic rights by Courts and has written several judgments on the topic. He was a member of the council of the University of Durban-Westville from 1989 to 1993 and from 1995 to 1997. He was the chancellor of the university from May 2001 until 31 December 2003.

He is married to Anu. The couple has two children.