n Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - A comparative discussion of the South African and Ugandan Human Rights Commissions

Volume 48, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



At its 52nd Ordinary Session in October 2012, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights presented an award to the Uganda Human Rights Commission for being the best National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) in Africa. This was in recognition of its contribution towards the protection and promotion of human rights. The South African Human Rights Commission came in a close second in this category. The recognition of these two NHRIs as the 'best' in Africa does not necessarily take into account the various differences between them. The purpose of this paper is to assess and reflect on the mandates and functioning of the two NHRIs. The assessment helps to determine the attributes, achievements, strengths, opportunities and challenges of the two institutions - which other NHRIs might learn from. The South African and Ugandan NHRIs are compared against the backdrop of the social, economic, political and historical contexts of the two countries in which they exist. The different challenges and dynamics that these two NHRIs face are discussed, as is how they have affected the realisation of their constitutional and legislative mandates in different ways. It is concluded that despite the challenges, the two NHRIs have achieved and realised some of their mandates in varying degrees and can nevertheless learn from each other's successes and failures - although their relative effectiveness is difficult to determine.

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