30th Anniversary


The Dullah Omar Institute started its work under the name 'Community Law Centre', an organisation borne out of the struggle against apartheid. The Community Law Centre opened its doors in 1990 with the help of the Ford Foundation. Adv Dullah Omar, a human rights lawyer, was its first director. The Centre played a major role in the negotiations towards a democratic South Africa. First staff members included prominent activists such as Bulelani Ngcuka, Dr Zola Skweyiya, and Brigitte Mabandla. Working with Albie Sachs and Prof Kader Asmal they participated in the constitutional negotiations. Ever since our inception, we have been a major contributor to policy formulation for South Africa’s constitutional order and increasingly, elsewhere on the continent. 

In 2015, the Community Law Centre was renamed into the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights to honour our founding director and the first Minister of Justice in a democratic South Africa. We host the prestigious Dullah Omar Memorial Lecture to pay tribute to the rich legacy of the late Adv Dullah Omar. 

From 1990 to 1994, the Community Law Centre (now: Dullah Omar Institute) focused its work on shaping a democratic South Africa. Under the leadership of Adv Dullah Omar, the Centre directly influenced the constitutional negotiations with academic research.

The Centre produced many papers, drafted by some of the African National Congress' key negotiators, on topics related to the quest for a constitutional democracy. Some of the historical publications can be downloaded here.

Judge Vincent Saldanha, Western Cape High Court
Author: Dullah Omar Institute
Published: Oct 05, 2020

On CLC’s role during the transition, Dullah Omar’s achievements as Minister and on taking pride in the Centre’s work across Africa. #DOI30yrs

Brigitte Mabandla, former Community Law Centre staff member
Author: Dullah Omar Institute
Published: Sep 28, 2020

On starting CLC’s work on children and women, on combining political negotiation and academic rigour and on Dullah Omar’s role in welcoming back activists returning from exile. #DOI30yrs

Bulelani Ngcuka
Author: Dullah Omar Institute
Published: Aug 31, 2020

On the establishment of the ANC Constitutional Committee in 1990 and its connection with the Community Law Centre. #DOI30yrs

Albie Sachs (Former associate of the Community Law Centre)
Author: Dullah Omar Institute
Published: Aug 27, 2020

Albie Sachs, former associate of the Centre and former judge of South Africa’s Constitutional Court (1994-2009). On the Centre as the engine room of the intellectual foundation for the new Constitution…and on combining dreaming, imagining and ‘nuggety research’.