Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo attends the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 17, 2019. File photo: REUTERS/Andreas Gebert.

JOHANNESBURG - The University of Johannesburg (UJ) said on Wednesday that it would bestow an Honoris Causa degree on Kumi Naidoo as recognition for his contribution to social justice in South Africa.

UJ said that Naidoo would be given the award on Tuesday, 23 April 2019 at their Kingsway main campus.
Professor Chris Landsberg, UJ SARCHI Chair: African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy said, “UJ cherishes the values of equality and social justice. 

"We are convinced that Kumi Naidoo’s tireless work, and fearless activism and his sacrifices for solidarity, democracy, equitable and sustainable development, and social justice resembles and exemplifies UJ’s values. 

"That is why we are proud to award Kumi Naidoo the degree Doctor Honoris Causa in Humanities and can boldly claim him as an alumnus of the university of critical Pan-African inquiry that seeks to propel Africa into the 4th Industrial Revolution.” 

UJ said the celebrated activist, Naidoo, was best known for his participation in fighting Apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s through the Helping Hands Youth Organisation, in which he led global campaigns to end poverty and protect human rights. 

In August 2018, Naidoo joined Amnesty International as its ninth Secretary General.

"Naidoo has held multiple international leadership roles, and was the first African to head Greenpeace, the international environmental group. Naidoo saw his role as that of an alliance builder and an agent of change. Importantly, he saw the intricate connections between environmental justice,gender equality and human rights," the institute said.

"Naidoo has served as the secretary-general of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty where he was in the forefront to challenge government, and the industrialised powers in general, to put their money where their mouths were and help end global poverty. On this score he worked with cultural icons Bono and Bob Geldof."

The university mentioned that from 1998-2008 Naidoo was Secretary General of Civicus, an international alliance for citizen participation.

"Recently, he has led the Global Call for Climate Action, which brings together environmental, aid, religious and human rights groups, labour unions, scientists and others and has organised mass demonstrations around climate negotiations.

"He was a Visiting Fellow at the Carnegie UK Trust in 2009; an Advisory Council for the Women’s Learning Partnership; a Director of Food Trees for Africa; Director of Earth Rights for Africa; Chairperson of the Partnership for Transparency Fund; and served on the Advisory Board of the Philanthropic for Rural Equity; and many other positions."

UJ said Naidoo's contribution to civil society had included the advocacy of local and international issues pertaining to human rights for increased ambitions from governments to cap emissions and vigorously move towards an energy sector based on renewables meant to help humanity avoid catastrophic climate change.

"Mr Naidoo will be the fourth recipient of an honorary doctorate conferred by the University during this year’s Autumn graduation season, which started on Thursday, 14 March. 

"Among those who will be conferred with Honorary Doctorates are: African-American mathematician, Katherine Johnson – whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent US manned spaceflights; the 2016 Noble prize in Chemistry recipient, Professor Bernard Lucas, aka Ben Feringa, and the Executive Director of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), Professor Romain Murenzi."

African News Agency (ANA)