THE ROLE OF NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTIONS IN THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN UGANDA AND SOUTH AFRICA: A COMPARATIVE EVALUATION
Keywords:national human rights institutions, role, promotion and protection, human rights
The United Nations has, through several resolutions, acknowledged and recognized the important role national human rights institutions can and do play in the promotion and protection of human rights. Notable among those resolutions is Resolution
48/134 of 20 December 1993, which lays down a number of principles relating to the status of such institutions. This recognition has been reaffirmed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights through Resolution 2003/76 of
25 April 2003. The last two decades have seen unprecedented political and constitutional changes in Africa as several African states have enacted new constitutions in an attempt to transform themselves into democratic societies. In the context of human rights protection, one of the main outstanding features of these new constitutions is that most of them contain bills of rights and the other is that they establish national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights. Both the Ugandan constitution and the South African constitution fall into that category. It is against that background that this article seeks to evaluate, in a comparative way, the role that the national human rights institutions in the two countries can and do play in the promotion and protection of human rights. This role will be assessed in the context of the powers, functions, achievements and effectiveness of these institutions; the
challenges they face and how they deal with them. In Uganda, the relevant institutions include the Uganda Human Rights
Commission and the Inspectorate of Government, while in South Africa they include some of the so-called Chapter 9 institutions, namely, the Public Protector; the Human Rights Commission; the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights
of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities; and the Commission for Gender Equality. There are other institutions in both countries that play less direct and significant roles in human rights protection. This article undertakes a comparative survey of the main human rights institutions with a view to determining the extent of the role they play in promoting and protecting human rights, how this role can be enhanced and how the two countries can learn from each other.
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