Three African ombudsman institutions - the South African Public Protector, the Ugandan Inspector-General of Government (IGG), and the Namibian Ombudsman - as well as attendant legislation, are assessed in terms of the historical role played in ensuring good governance and human rights protection. South Africa, Namibia and Uganda were chosen for comparison because all are transitional societies with similar recent histories, and because over the last two decades all three countries have been in the process of reforming and transforming their societies by attempting to improve the protection of human rights. The differences between the three ombudsman institutions, however, are not a reflection of their strengths and weaknesses, as they were established under different circumstances, for slightly different reasons, and within particular contexts. The differences are, in fact, grounded in the extent of the mandates of the institutions; the level of their independence; the extent of their powers; and how they exercise such mandates, independence and powers. The Namibian Ombudsman has several 'strengths' over its counterparts: a much broader mandate; a unique, innovative and progressive environmental mandate; and a higher level of independence. The Ugandan IGG, on the other hand, seems to enjoy more powers than its counterparts. It is concluded that all three institutions have played, and continue to play, an important role in good governance and human rights protection - albeit in varying degrees.
Military commanders involved in international armed conflicts are faced daily with the dilemma of making defensible targeting decisions when they encounter under-aged child combatants. This problem is particularly acute in conflicts involving non-state-armed groups, who are notorious for forcibly abducting child soldiers to swell their ranks. Existing international law prohibits the recruitment of children under fifteen years of age into any armed forces. In some instances, international law sets the minimum age for recruitment at eighteen years of age, and there are growing calls for this standard to replace the fifteen-year age limit which has achieved customary international law status. Until such time as this eighteen-year limit has achieved customary international law status, these child soldiers are bound by the existing IHL regime, which affords combatant status (and immunity from prosecution) based on an ability to show membership of an armed force. It is argued that the requirements for full combatant status are probably beyond the reach of the average under-aged child soldier. As a result, they remain classified as civilians, albeit participating directly in hostilities without authorisation. As unlawful participants, these civilians are not only legitimate targets in hostilities (for so long as they participate or engage in the continuous combat function), but they also face the possibility of being criminally prosecuted for their actions once they are captured.
In this paper, the author advocates the use of multi-disciplinary approaches and research to meet the demands of the many societal problems in South Africa today. It is argued that children's rights and related issues escape disciplinary classification and inadvertently place researchers between the disciplines. For instance, it is argued that children's rights in the context of the HIV/AIDS pandemic are too complex to be resolved by applying the subject knowledge of a single discipline. Accordingly, the author proposes the use of multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches in understanding and interpreting the human rights of children.
In December 2010 popular unrest erupted in Tunisia. This resulted in the exit of President Ben Ali who had been in power for twenty-three years. The revolt quickly spread to other parts of the Maghreb region and the Arab world. A common feature of the countries in these regions is that power is concentrated in the hands of a small ruling class, and fundamental rights and freedoms are a scarce commodity. Essentially, the demands of these revolts are centred on the quest for more freedoms and popular participation in government. Against this backdrop, this article examines the limits of the right to self-determination. With the aid of international norms, it is argued that the right to democracy is a fundamental requirement of governance. In this regard, the right to democracy is sequential to, and a logical consequence of the right to self-determination. It would appear, however, that several governments in post-independent Arab and African countries failed to create space for the articulation of democratic governance after attaining self-determination. Colonial regimes were merely replaced by authoritarian ones. Recent events in North Africa and the wider Arab world indicate a desire among the populace to participate in the process of governance. Perhaps, sub-Saharan Africa should learn some lessons from the North African revolutions.
Not every child has the opportunity to grow up as part of a family, which is regarded as the optimum form of child care. Adoption, however, provides a child with the opportunity to have a family. When adoption does occur, the most important aspect is that it should be in the best interests of the child. In this article I examine statutory adoption in Botswana and whether it serves the best interests of the child. I then offer possible solutions to problems that I believe need attention.
This article focuses on the nature of political engagements among African states within the APRM and the UPR. It focuses specifically on matters that African countries raise among each other under peer review within the discourse of human rights, democracy, and governance; and whether such engagements are worthwhile. The article asserts that African states have hardly used opportunities provided by the APRM and UPR to engage one another critically and frankly on their human rights situations.
This paper reflects on trade unionism and politics in Africa in general and South Africa in particular, from colonisation to post-colonial Africa and constitutional democratic order. It first deals with the origins of trade unions, their relationship with political parties, their critical role in the struggle for independence, and their contribution to present day struggles for democracy. Special emphasis is on South Africa as an illuminating case of the African experience with trade unionism and politics, particularly because South African trade unionism is the most developed on the continent and post-apartheid South Africa is one of the few democratic and constitutional states in Africa. The paper then focuses on the particular origins of trade unionism in South Africa, its relationship with political parties, its contribution to the struggle against apartheid, and the current status, strengths and weaknesses of the South African trade unionism with reference to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which is the largest federation of trade unions in South Africa. It argues that trade unions remain critical for democratic consolidation and will continue to play a meaningful role in this process. However, despite their relationship with political parties, trade unions should remain autonomous.