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Willemien du Plessis


North-West University

Willemien du Plessis is a Professor of Law at the North-West University. She holds the degrees B Juris, LLB, MA (Environmental Management) cum laude and LLD. She teaches environmental law and legal history. In the past she also taught land law and African customary law. Since 1987 she has published more than 200 articles and 58 contributions in books on these topics. She also published books and edited and co-edited several books on environmental and energy law. She participated in various international and national inter-university research projects, since her appointment to the university in 1984. One of the projects was to investigate the role of Traditional leaders in a new democratic dispensation. This project was funded by the Dutch government and participants included Leiden University, NorthWest University (at that stage previous Potchefstroom University and University of the North-West), University of Limpopo, University of KwaZulu-Natal She also participated in various governmental working groups on land reform prior to 1996.

She is a member of the African Law Association (based in Germany), the South African branch of the International Association of Impact Assessment, the Southern African Society of Law Teachers, Academy of Sciences of South Africa and the South African Environmental Law Association. She is the secretary of the South African Environmental Law Association and was co-chair of the Research Committee of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law (until January 2014).

She is on the editorial boards of the Botswana Law Journal, the South African Journal of Environmental Law and Policy and the New Zealand Journal Resource Management (Theory and Practice). She was asked to co-edit the proceedings of the 8th Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law that was held in Belgium in 2010 on Biodiversity and Climate Change as well as the proceedings of the 11th Colloquium held in New Zealand in 2013. The books are published by Edward Elgar based in the UK.

From 2001 to 2018, she has been the Director of the Faculty's Research Focus Area (since 2008 Research Unit) on Development in the South African Constitutional State, later named Law, Justice and Sustainability. She also served on the NWU's Institutional Research Committee in this capacity. She has been a member of the Premier of the North-West Province's Research Coordinating Committee since its inception in 2001, served in various capacities as member of various panels relating to rating since 2002 (e.g. member of the National Research Foundation (NRF) Rating Panel on Law, convenor of the rating panel, member of the Executive Evaluation Committee and Appeals Committee of the NRF; Review Steering Committee: Review of the NRF Evaluation and Rating System for Individual Researchers). Since 2017 she has been serving as an International Advisory Board (IAB) member of Sustainability College Bruges (SCB), Belgium.

She chaired and participated in internal/external quality review committees e.g she served on a review committee evaluating the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes of Tilburg University, Netherlands in 2010, the postgraduate programmes of the University of Johannesburg and the module energy law at the University of the Witwatersrand, as well as chair a review of the Faculty of Law, Stellenbosch University in 2022. In 2018 she has been elected as the representative of academic personnel on the University's Council.

She acts on a regular basis as reviewer of articles published in national and international journals and is appointed from time to time as examiner of LLM dissertations and LLD theses for national and international universities. She delivered papers at national and international conferences, most of which culminated in publications or are being prepared for publication. She is a fellow of the NRF SARChi Research Chair: Cities, Law and Sustainability and participates in the NRF SARCHi Research Chair: Mineral Law at UCT.

In 2019 she had 11 doctoral and 5 master students studying under her supervision; completed 12 LLM and MA by research; 45 mini LLM dissertations; 3 mini-dissertations for the MSc (Environmental Management) and 11 LLDs. She also had 4 female postdoctoral fellows (from the Netherlands, Italy, Mauritius and Bolivia) who worked for longer and short periods under her supervision. She currently has 3 post-doctoral researchers under her supervision. 

Willemien du Plessis
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