Professor Thuli Madonsela, the former Public Protector, has achieved a remarkable feat: she’s now an external member of the renowned UN Scientific Advisory Board. This group is responsible for providing insightful advice on matters that bridge the worlds of science and technology.
Despite her expertise in law, Madonsela was surprised by the UN’s invitation. It seemed counterintuitive, given her non-scientific background.
Madonsela’s feelings were clear: “I am deeply honored by this recognition.”
A message from Stellenbosch University explained the significance of her appointment. It was an acknowledgment from UN secretary-general, António Guterres, of Madonsela’s noteworthy contributions to social justice, constitutionalism, human rights, responsible governance, and the foundation of the rule of law.
Guterres shared his perspective: “The advancements in science and technology can certainly help us reach our sustainable development goals. But they also bring forth moral, legal, and political concerns. To address these challenges, my team of experts—the Scientific Advisory Board—will provide guidance.”
Madonsela’s inclusion in this prestigious group reflects the UN’s ambition to be a reliable source of accurate information and a decision-maker in the fields of science, technology, morality, governance, and sustainable development.
Madonsela stated confidently: “This recognition not only highlights the significance of the Center for Social Justice but also captures the attention of the UN. The collaboration of law, science, and technology will resonate well.”
And once more, she added, “As surely as the sun rises, this collaboration will extend beyond these walls, binding our university, our nation, and our continent.”
Within the halls of Stellenbosch, admiration was evident as Professor Wim de Villiers, the vice-chancellor of the university, praised Madonsela’s achievement. “We can see her remarkable accomplishments in law, human rights, and governance. Her commitment to social justice, particularly in her role at the Center for Social Justice, has made a lasting impact.”
De Villiers continued his praise, “As a university, we take great pride in her success. We eagerly anticipate the wisdom and insight she’ll bring to the international stage.”
And so, Madonsela joins the ranks of esteemed individuals—Professor Yoshua Bengio, Professor Sandra Díaz, Professor Saleemul Huq, Professor Fei-Fei Li, Professor Alan Lightman, and Professor Thomas C. Südhof—experts in their respective fields, contributing to the greater knowledge base.
The UN Scientific Advisory Board also includes experts from various organizations—the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). They join forces with the envoy of technology and the head of the United Nations University to collectively enhance humanity’s understanding, resonating together as a symphony of wisdom, a call to unlock humanity’s boundless potential.