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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. He received a law degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in 1996 and an LL.M. in international law from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands in 1997. He also earned an LL.M. in corporate law from the NYU School of Law’s Hauser Global Law Scholar Program in 1999.
In 2001, Paul co-founded the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), an international human rights organization based in New York City. Paul initially served as Program Director and Executive Vice President of ICTJ, in which he shared his expertise on delivering truth and justice to victims of mass human rights violations. Paul has 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. He received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2009 with Juan E. Mendez, the former ICTJ President, for their contributions to transitional justice. He also was awarded the 2009 Recent Graduate Award from NYU Law, and was chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2008.
Currently, Paul is the CEO of PeaceVentures. He is a member of the Monitor Talent Network and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Fragile States, and has been an adviser to the Sundance Documentary Film Program.