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Hero of Anti-Apartheid Movement Albie Sachs Visited HSE Saint-Petersburg

On September 27 an outstanding South African lawyer, judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa (1994-2009) Albert (“Albie”) Sachs gave a lecture called "Forging a Constitution for the New South Africa: from Racism to Equal Rights for All", sharing his experience with the students and academic staff of the HSE.

The unique opportunity to meet Albie Sachs was provided by the Centre for Historical Research and the Faculty of Law of HSE Saint-Petersburg with participation of Foundation for Support of Liberal Arts and Andrew Gagarin Center for Civil Society and Human Rights

This thin intelligent man does not immediately strike you as a rough fighter. However, the whole audience was immediately astonished by his incredible fortitude. Albie Sachs shared the memories about his student years, the beginning of his involvement into the anti-apartheid movement, the following 5 months of solitary confinement, the unfairness of the South African legislation during apartheid, about Nelson Mandela and the creation of the new South African constitution.

It might seem impossible for many young lawyers that a constitution might not be comprised of the best excerpts from numerous international documents, but rather reflect one’s thoughts and feelings on what is fair and right. Telling the story about the birth of the South African constitution, Albie Sachs encouraged the future lawyers to first ask themselves “is it right or wrong?”, and only after that address the existing legislation on the matter.

Answering the question about what advice he would give to his 17-year-old self, Mr. Sachs urged the students to believe in the things even the older and wiser people have given up on and not listen to anyone convincing to let go of their dreams, because this is the only way to achieve truly wonderful results.