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Prof Paulette Pierson-Mathy (Belgium)

The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in

Prof Paulette Pierson-Mathy (Belgium) Awarded for:
Her outstanding and insightful contributions to the struggle for liberation. She has been a prolific author of original reports and publications providing deep insights into the realities of apartheid, and the struggle for liberation in Africa and Southern Africa in particular.
Prof Paulette Pierson-Mathy was born in Saint-Servais, Belgium in 1932. Her interest in other cultures was evident from a young age. While still at school, she was chosen as an American Field scholar and spent a year in Connecticut (1948-1949).

She is also a brilliant academic. She graduated in 1956 with a PhD in Law from the Free University of Brussels. She then won a scholarship to the University of Paris from the French Government where she graduated with a Diploma in International Law from the Law Faculty.

She began her working career at the Royal Institute for International Relations in Brussels where she worked as a researcher from 1959 to1962. From 1962 to 1967 she began lecturing on international law at the University of Liege and in 1967 she was nominated as Senior Research Fellow at the International Law Centre and the Centre for African Studies at the Free University of Brussels.

In 1972 she returned to her Alma Mater where she lectured in the Law Faculty and the Faculty of Social Science, Politics and Economics.

Pierson-Mathy is a prolific author of original reports and publications providing deep insights into the realities of apartheid and the struggle for liberation in Africa. She has written about the United Nations’s action against apartheid, the legality of national liberation struggles, new forms of revolutionary struggle, the application of war legislation and humanitarian principles in guerrilla operations, the birth of African Nations after national wars of liberation.

She is a citizen of the world who has travelled extensively sharing her insights in many countries. In 1966, Pierson-Mathy participated in the 2nd Seminar on International Law in Geneva. She was a visiting professor in the Department of Political Science and the Centre of African Studies at the University of Boston from 1971 to 1972.

She organised a seminar on the contribution of the liberation struggle to the evolution of International Law, Decolonisation and the liberation of peoples at the University of Luanda. She organised another seminar on the struggle for liberation in Southern Africa at the Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow in 1980.

Fighting for the restoration of peace and respect for the right to self-determination for oppressed peoples through writing was not enough for her; she made a point of visiting these areas in person despite the dangers to herself.

In addition to organising several international conferences on Namibia’s statute, she also organised several sessions of the International Commission of Enquiry into apartheid crimes. She presided on several missions of legal experts in frontline states destabilised by South African politics.

The reports of these missions published by the UN are testament to her courage, sense of rectitude and humanity. Due to her tireless efforts she has met with many leaders of the liberation struggle in Southern Africa, most of them eminent intellectuals such as Agostinho Neto, the first President of Angola, Mario de Andrade, Joachim Chissano of Mozambique, Oliver Tambo, the then President of the ANC, Sam Nujoma of Namibia, Amilcar Cabral and Vasco Cabral of Guinea-Bissau.

She was invited as an observer to the presidential and legislative elections in Angola in September 1992 and in South Africa in April 1994.