Democracy and Access to Justice
The realisation of human rights is closely linked to the promotion of democratic principles such as human dignity, equality and freedom.
Human rights NGOs in South Africa (SA) are concerned with protecting civil rights in an effort to ensure the effective functioning of our democracy.
Access to justice is an important theme for human rights NGOs and all efforts are directed towards helping individuals and groups from poor communities. As a result, a significant amount of financial and human resources are channelled to the establishment and support of community based paralegal advice offices that provide people with wide ranging legal and social advice.
A fair number of human rights organisations that provide legal services to disadvantaged communities are based in academic institutions around the country. These organisations combine academic and applied research to lobby for social and economic justice.
A Rights Based Approach to Development
Moreover, within the context of a developing country, a significant lobby is emerging which argues that poverty is the manifestation of unfulfilled rights. Thus, a significant proportion of South African NGOs integrate human rights into broader development issues by advocating for a rights-based approach to development. In essence, this involves engaging in upstream strategies to promote social change. NGOs promoting a rights-based approach to development are commonly advocacy orientated, mobilising communities around various social justice campaigns.
Their work tends to focus on the realisation of second generation rights such as shelter, health care, water, food and social security as provided for within Sections 26 and 27 of South Africa’s Bill of Rights. According to the South African Constitution, socio-economic rights “are at least to some extent justiciable (i.e., can be protected by the courts) and can be negatively protected from improper invasion”.
Common Programme Areas for Human Rights NGOs
- Access to Justice
- Freedom of Speech
- Farm workers rights
- Refugee rights
- Gender equity
- Socio-economic rights
Human Rights NGOs
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