Vuyelwa Kuuya

Visiting Fellow, ELAC 2014-2015



Since 2007, Vuyelwa has been leading research into the status and role of multinational corporations in public international law, with a special focus on international human rights law, international sustainable development law and international instruments promoting corporate social responsibility.

Her work at ELAC is on the Legal remedies for Corruption Project which focuses on the use and effectiveness of litigation as a means of seeking redress for corruption involving public officials and multinational corporations. This project is being carried out in collaboration with the Open Societies Foundations’ Justice Initiative. She is also focusing on the application of business ethics by multinational corporations carrying out natural resource extraction in failed states in Africa.

Vuyelwa is also a Research Associate of the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL) where is also the coordinator of research in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Her CISDL work involves highlighting the quasi-legal effects of nascent international instruments which promote CSR in interntational human rights law as well as regional and bi-lateral international trade and investment regimes. Much of her CISDL work is done in close collaboration with the International Development Law Organization’s Sustainable Economic Development division.

Prior to coming to ELAC, Vuyelwa trained as an Attorney in South Africa with
a leading commercial law firm in Cape Town.

Between 2007 and 2010 Vuyelwa was a Research Fellow and Principal Researcher on the Corporate Complicity in Human Rights Violations Project based at Cambridge University’s Lauterpacht Centre for International Law.


Vuyelwa Kuuya appointed as Global Programme Manager of the United Nations Voices of Future Generation’s Project on Children’s Rights and Sustainable Development (VoFG). Since its inception in 2014, the Programme has managed to publish 3 books on the role of community engagement in promoting better access to water and the preservation of bio diversity in dessert communities; children with disabilities and environmental protection. The programme, in co-ordination with various agencies of the United Nations, including the Division on Sustainable Development and the Commission on the Rights of the Child, has also educated 2750 children from Africa, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, the Middle East, Europe and North America on international child rights and sustainable development.
To mark the adoption of the United Nations Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, on 20 September 2015, and under the auspices of the programme, over 70 children gathered at the United Nations Headquarters for the United Nations and Voices of Future Generations Children’s Summit on the World’s Sustainable Development Goals. The children from Ghana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uruguay, Mexico, Canada, Switzerland, England, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Germany and the United States, amongst others, discussed international migration, the rights to equality, education, food, family life, security and health. They also discussed issues affecting children, such as child labour, child marriage and child trafficking. The children highlighted the need for international co-operation on taxation, migration, during epidemics and in the protection of children in war, amongst other things. The main outcome of the Summit is a special Children’s Declaration on the World’s Sustainable Development Goals which was handed over to the world leaders who co-facilitated of the United Nations Summit on the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

Vuyelwa Kuuya gives expert opinion at International Business and Human Rights: Principles, Practice and Prospects at Norton Rose LLP (London). On 14 July 2015 Vuyelwa Kuuya was invited to a discussion at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP (London) on She opined on the possible impact of a treaty on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights proposed at the United Nations Human Rights Council under Resolution A/HRC/RES/26/9.

Vuyelwa Kuuya chairs an International Law Research and Governance Seminar on the Contributions of International Law to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. On 30 April 2015, Vuyelwa Kuuya chaired an International Law Research and Governance Seminar on the Contributions of International Law to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, Cambridge University. The Keynote speech at this event was delivered by Mr Nikhil Seth, the then Director of the United Nations Division on Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Attended by practitioners in the field of international law, members of academia and various country representatives, this high-level event discussed the relation between several of the 17 Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and human rights, including the rights of children. It also discussed the practical implications involved in meeting the SDG’s in developing and developed countries for states and non-state actors such as international businesses.

Vuyelwa Kuuya contributes to Expert Roundtable on Business and Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame, London. On 21 April 2015, Vuyelwa Kuuya was invited as an expert representing the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, Oxford University as co-sponsor of a Roundtable on Business and Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame, London. This event focused on the possible form, scope and structure of the treaty proposed under Resolution A/HRC/RES/26/9 at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Vuyelwa’s contribution focused on the structure of international law, the status of corporations under it and the state responsibility to protect human rights from infringement by corporations. This event also constituted a consultation for an International Bar Association, Law Society of England and Whales White Paper: Options for a Treaty on Business and Human Rights.

Vuyelwa Kuuya gives expert opinion at Roundtable on Business and Human Rights: Emerging Challenges to Consensus and Coherence. Vuyelwa was invited as an expert on international business and international human rights law, to a Roundtable on Business and Human Rights: Emerging Challenges to Consensus and Coherence, at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House on 17 March 2015. Drawing on her expertise in this area and on international business regulation in the field of anti-corruption, she contributed to the discussion by drawing comparisons between regulatory efforts aimed at stemming corporate and state corruption and those being made to regulate international businesses in respect to international human rights and sustainable development.

Vuyelwa Kuuya speaks on the development of International Law at the International Court of Justice between 1997 and 2000. On 21 November 2014 at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, Cambridge University, Vuyelwa Kuuya spoke on the contribution of His Excellency Judge C.G. Weeramantry, Former Deputy President of the International Court of Justice and UNESCO Peace Education Laureate,  to the development of International Law. Her talk was given as part of the Towards One World International Law Seminar which also launched the third volume of Judge Weeramantry’s Memoirs of the same title. Vuyelwa’s talk focused on his dicta on the role and status of international sustainable development involving social and environmental concerns in economic development under international law. She drew attention to some of the seminal cases adjudicated by Justice Weeramantry at the International Court of Justice, including his dissenting opinion in the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary/Slovakia).