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
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.