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Paul van Zyl grew up in South Africa during the apartheid era. He spent many years actively opposing apartheid, and served as the Executive Secretary of South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 1995 to 1998. After obtaining a BA and LL.B degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Paul also gained an LL.M in International Law from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. Later Paul also earned an LL.M. in Corporate Law from the NYU School of Law’s and was selected as a Hauser Global Scholar at NYU; a program which selects 10 of the finest students from countries across the world, chosen on the basis of their intellectual and leadership ability, as well as their capacity to participate productively in a global community of scholars and practitioners.
In 2001, Paul co-founded the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), an international human rights organisation based in New York City. For the past 17 years, the ICTJ works for justice in over 40 countries that have endured massive human rights abuses under repression and in conflict. They work with victims, civil society groups, national and international organizations to ensure redress for victims and to help prevent atrocities from happening again.
Paul received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2009 with Juan E. Mendez the former ICTJ President, for their contributions to transitional justice and was chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2008. Paul has served on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Fragile States, and has been an adviser to the Sundance Documentary Film Program. For 15 years he served as the Director of New York University School of Law’s Transitional Justice Program and for 5 years, he was a visiting Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore Further, Paul was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by Santa Clara University of Law in 2012. Paul has also served as an adviser and consultant to many NGOs and Governments on transitional justice issues in countries including: Colombia, Indonesia, East Timor and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Currently, Paul is the co-founder and CEO of Maiyet, a luxury fashion brand that celebrates and cultivates traditional design and culture. Paul also co-founded The Conduit in 2016. The Conduit serves as a home for those committed to improving the world by harnessing the power of creativity and entrepreneurship. Located in a 40,000 sq. ft. building in the heart of London, The Conduit connects thinkers, leaders and innovators in social change, business and the arts to force impact for the greater good. The Conduit opens in summer 2018.