Global perspectives of Africa: Harnessing the universal periodic review to process sexual and gender-based violence in SADC member states

Authors: SC Vollmer and DT Vollmer

ISSN: 1996-2193
Affiliations: BA (Denver) LLB LLD (Stellenbosch), Associate, Resilient LLP, Ontario; BEng (McMaster) MSc (UOIT), PhD student and CGS-D researcher (York University, Canada)
Source: Stellenbosch Law Review, Volume 33 Issue 1, 2022, p. 8 – 41


This article examines the responsiveness of the African human rights  system to sexual and gender-based violence (“SGBV”) from a collaborative  framework combining both legal and computational methodologies. This  alternative lens is proposed to address the need for urgent attention to the  increasing SGBV and other human rights violations of persons based on their  real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, and/  or sex characteristics (“SOGIESC”), as current research has not yet fully  understood the reasons for the enduring gap between the norms and their  implementation. Primarily, the focus of this research provides an intersection  of the (un)responsiveness of the African human rights system to SGBV and  the (in)adequacy of state responses to SGBV, including laws and practices  that exacerbate SGBV, with a focus on the Southern African Development  Community (“SADC”).  The Universal Periodic Review (“UPR”), under the auspices of the United  Nations Human Rights Council, was used to determine to what extent African  states recognise and articulate positions on SGBV – results of which were  used to assess further support through human rights mechanisms under the  African human rights system. This article considers the international human  rights record of African states on the issues of SGBV SOGIESC-based discrimination and violence. Through a systematic evaluation  of the UPR record, the work presented here provides a framework for  developing recommendations and/or observations for an integrated approach  to advancing SOGIESC rights under the African human rights system. An  artefact of the work is the development of a preliminary computational  software program that was demonstrated to have captured trends in the  aforementioned information with increased efficiency, potentially lowering  costs and increasing accessibility.