Dr Michèle Olivier

Reader and Exchange Coordinator

Faculty of Business, Law and Politics


+44 (0) 1482 466224

Dr Michèle Olivier is a senior legal practitioner with specialist expertise and extensive practical experience.

She has published extensively  in the fields of international law, constitutional law, international human rights law and African integration.

Previously she was the Principal State Law Adviser (State Advocate) for the Department of Foreign Affairs in South Africa, where she was admitted as a solicitor (attorney) and a barrister (advocate);and a Professor in International Law at the University of Pretoria (2003-2011).

She holds LLD, LLM, LLB and BLC degrees in law as well as MA and BA(Hons) degrees in political science.


Research Interests

  • African union law
  • Forced marriages in plural societies
  • Child soldiers and suicide bombers


Books (edited)

Botha N, Olivier M and van Tonder D (eds), Multilateralism and International Law with Western Sahara as a Case Study, VerLoren van Themaat Centre, University of South Africa (2010)

Kotzé L J and others (eds), South African Environmental Law through the Cases, LexisNexis (2008)

Journal articles

Olivier M, 'The Role of African Union Law in Integrating Africa', South African Journal of International Affairs (2015)

Olivier M, Sarich J and Bales K, 'Forced Marriage, Slavery, and Plural Legal Systems: An African Example', Human Rights Quarterly, (2016)

Olivier M and Botha N, ‘The Government of the RSA and Shrien Dewani EWHC 842’, South African Yearbook of International Law 282 (2013)

Full list


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list

  • Politics , War and Ethics
  • Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • Legal research Seminar
  • Paths of research
  • MA dissertation
  • Global Political Challenges

Research PhDs

Michèle is currently supervising doctoral research in

  • African governance, law and security
Michele welcomes enquiries from prospective PhD students interested in working in
  • African governance and international law
  • African integration and the African Union
  • Human rights and security
  • Challenges faced by the global south

Completed PhDs

  • Funmilola Abioye, Rule of Law in Africa
  • Emanuel Okon, Diplomatic Immunity
  • Babatunde Fagbayibo, African Integration

Current PhD supervisions

  • Nkiruka Ugwuji Chidia Maduekwe, Achieving Environment Sustainability in Nigeria’s Extractive Industry: How Viable is Environmental Human Rights?

Teaching awards and accolades

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • BLC, LLB, BA (Hons), LLM (Pretoria, South Africa)
  • MA (Rand Afrikaans University, South Africa)
  • LLD (UNISA, South Africa)

External roles

  • Acted as a consultant to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) of the Africa Union in respect of assessing governance in Malawi, Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa.
  • Author of numerous legal opinions and publications on international law, international environmental law, the South African Constitution, regional integration in Africa, the domestic application of international human rights and child rights

Professional highlights

  • One of eight members of the technical committee of constitutional experts responsible for the drafting of the South African Constitution of 1993.
  • Represented the South African government as Principal State Law Adviser (State Advocate) in the Department of Foreign Affairs in the negotiating of international treaties.
  • Participated in various committees of the United Nations in New York, Paris and Geneva representing the South African government in matters of international law.
  • Involved in the drafting and negotiation of international treaties relating to the establishment of diplomatic relations, technical cooperation, the use of shared watercourses, economic cooperation, peacetime cooperation, trans-frontier wildlife conservation, cooperation with the World Health Organisation (WHO), children in armed conflict and cross-border policing.
  • Actively involved in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) in her capacity of international law adviser, and played a leading role in negotiations of agreements relating to the combating of regional crime, water resource management as well as accession, legislative incorporation and implementation of multilateral human rights agreements.
  • Worked with OAU, UN (including 6th Committee as part of South African delegation to UN General Assembly), UNICEF and UNESCO.