An analysis of the contribution of the South African Human Rights Commission to protecting and promoting the rights of children

Authors Meda Couzens

ISSN: 1996-2126
Affiliations: Senior Lecturer, School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban
Source: South African Journal on Human Rights, Volume 28 Issue 3, 2012, p. 553 – 585


There has been limited research into the activity of South Africa’s national independent human rights institutions (NIHRIs) and their roles in protecting and promoting the rights of children. This article attempts to address this gap by analysing the mandate and the effectiveness of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in respect of children’s rights. The mandate and the work of the SAHRC are assessed against the guidelines issued by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. The article shows that the SAHRC largely complies with the above general guidelines, although improvements are required in terms of the specificity of the mandate pertaining to children, priority given to the rights of children, the diversity of rights issues addressed by the SAHRC, as well as promoting, protecting and monitoring the right of the child to be heard. Positive practices from foreign jurisdictions are used to suggest improvements to the activity of the Commission.