n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - Protection of children's rights in the Swaziland legal system : achievements and challenges

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-1383



The paper critically analyses the domestication and application of the UNCRC in the Swaziland legal system. Since ratifying the UNCRC in 1995, the Swaziland government has made great strides with respect to child protection through domesticating the Convention under the new Constitutional dispensation, new statutes, and government policies. Even though Swaziland's track record on implementation of human rights treaties is generally poor, today Swaziland can boast of a credible set of laws aimed at the protection of children's rights. However, the processes of domesticating and implementing the core provisions of the UNCRC have been complicated and delayed by divergent national legislation, conflicting cultural values, and the lack of a clear definition of some rights. The law in action has also encountered challenges from traditional law and cultural practices that disregard the rights of the child. While this paper celebrates the positive impact of the UNCRC on child rights protection laws in Swaziland, it also analyses the factors that persistently act as an opposition to the effective implementation and realization of the rights guaranteed by the UNCRC. The paper therefore analyses the legal framework and practice with particular reference to the four pillars of child rights protection: the best interest of the child, non-discrimination, and the right to life, survival and development, as well as respect for the views of the child. The paper finally argues that the ever important view harmonising national legislation so that it is in line with the UNCRC must not be lost. It also suggests means of balancing the claims of culture with those of international human rights law. The paper highlights the need to discourage any custom, tradition, cultural or religious practice that is inconsistent with the rights, duties and obligations contained in the UNCRC.

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