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The DGRU is an applied research unit within the Public Law Department at the University of Cape Town. It was established in order for the faculty, and UCT more generally, to have a greater influence on democracy and human rights in South Africa and the region.

The DGRU is primarily concerned with the relationship between rights and governance. Its work focuses on the intersection between public administration, with the challenge of public accountability, on the one hand, and the realization of constitutionally-enshrined human rights on the other. This is distinctive from other institutes or University centres.