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David Bilchitz

Profile Picture of David Bilchitz

Professor of Law – Fundamental Rights and Constitutional Law

Teaching the following modules:

  • LLB: Company Law
  • LLB: Environmental Law
  • LLB: Jurisprudence
  • LLB: International Human Rights Law
  • LLM: Contemporary Issues in Environmental Law
  • LLM: Human Rights Law, Policy and Practice
  • LLM: Advanced International Commercial Law Issues
  • LLM: International Corporate Governance and the Law

Areas of interest

  • Fundamental Rights – Domestic and International
  • Theory of Fundamental Rights
  • Business and Human Rights
  • Proportionality
  • Socio-Economic Rights
  • Animal Rights
  • The Tension Between Religious Freedom and Equality
  • LGBT+ Rights
  • The Intersection of Environmental Law and Protection for Animals
  • Comparative Constitutional Law
  • Separation of Powers
  • Judicial Review
  • Constitution-Making


David Bilchitz is a Professor of Law at the University of Reading. He is also Professor of Fundamental Rights and Constitutional Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of Johannesburg and Director of the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (SAIFAC).  In October 2023, the President of the Republic of South Africa appointed him as an Acting Justice of the Constitutional Court for the first term of 2024.

He was the Secretary-General of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) from 2013-2020 and is now a Vice-President of the Association. He was elected as a member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa in 2020. He was awarded a Von Humboldt Foundation Georg Forster Fellowship in 2017 which enabled him to take up the position of  Visiting Research Professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin between August 2017 and August 2018. He has also been a Visiting Professor at the National University of Singapore and a Visiting Research Professor at the Minerva Centre for Human Rights, University of Tel Aviv.


Prof Bilchitz has written extensively on a range of topics in the field of constitutional law and fundamental rights with a recent monograph ‘Fundamental Rights and the Legal Obligations of Business’ (Cambridge University Press) and a previous monograph titled ‘Poverty and Fundamental Rights’ (Oxford University Press).


In addition to these books, Professor Bilchitz has 5 co-edited books, 1 textbook (on Jurisprudence), 28 book chapters and 41 journal articles.


Professor Bilchitz has also taught at leading institutions across the world as well as presenting at numerous conferences both in South Africa and internationally.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD (University of Cambridge)
  • MPhil (University of Cambridge)
  • BA (Hons) LLB (University of the Witwatersrand)

Professional bodies/affiliations

Selected publications


Hot off the Press: Transitional Justice, Distributive Justice and Transformative Constitutionalism: Comparing Colombia and South Africa (with Raisa Cachalia) (Oxford University Press, December 2023) including the following chapters:

  1. ‘What is the Role of Socio-economic Rights in addressing Historical Injustice?’ in D Bilchitz and R Cachalia (eds), Transitional and Distributive Justice: reflections from Colombia and South Africa (2023)
  2. ‘The Difference History Makes: Comparative Reflections on Socio-Economic Rights and Historical Consciousness in South Africa and Colombia’ (with M Correa Henao) (2023) in D Bilchitz and R Cachalia (eds), Transitional and Distributive Justice: reflections from Colombia and South Africa (2023)
  3. ‘Developing a Conceptual Framework for Global South Comparisons: Colombian and South African Contributions’ (with R Cachalia) (2023) in D Bilchitz and R Cachalia (eds), Transitional and Distributive Justice: reflections from Colombia and South Africa (2023)

‘Is automatic loss of South African citizenship for those acquiring other citizenships constitutional? Democratic Alliance v Minister of Home Affairs’ South African Journal on Human Rights (2022/3) co-authored with Ruvi Ziegler


Fundamental Rights and the Legal Obligations of Business (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2022)


Recent Conference Presentations 


  • Keynote lecture: ‘From Dreams to Socio-economic Rights: the Imperative for a Shift in the Constitutional Court’ delivered at the University of the Western Cape on 24 April 2023.
  • Presentation on ‘Fundamental Rights and the Legal Obligations of Business’ at the University of Stellenbosch on 26 April 2023.
  • Presentation on ‘Approaches to Institutional Structures for Animal Governance’, at the University of Reading, on 09 June 2023.
  • Presentation on ‘Equality of What? The Need for Minimum Thresholds in Giving Content to Socio-Economic Rights’, at the University of Siena on 15 June 2023
  • Presentation on ‘Caught between intrinsic value or being biological resources? Exploring South Africa’s shifting approach to non-human animals and its implications’ at the University of Newcastle on 22 June 2023. 
  • Presentation on ‘Exploring the Nature and Extent of Corporations’ Positive Fundamental Rights Obligations’ at the Society of Legal Scholars Conference, Oxford Brookes University on 27 June 2023. 
  • Presentation on ‘Going Beyond Doing No Harm? Two Arguments for Positive Corporate Fundamental Rights Obligations’ at the European International Studies Association Conference, Potsdam on 8 September 2023
  • Presentation on ‘From Dreams to Socio-Economic Rights: the Imperative for a Shift in the Constitutional Court’ at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, University of Oxford on 25 October 2023


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