n African Human Rights Law Journal - The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development : duplication or complementarity of the African Union Protocol on Women's Rights?

Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



This paper is written from the perspective that universal human rights treaties provide minimum standards and that any subsequent regional instruments must not provide for anything less than what was already envisaged in universal treaties. With regard to the protection of women's rights, at the global level, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. However, this instrument is inadequate when it comes to the protection of women's rights in Africa. Consequently, the African Union adopted the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women to cater for prejudices peculiar to African women. In 2008, SADC adopted a Protocol on Gender and Development, to some extent duplicating the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women. The paper seeks to ascertain whether the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development complements or duplicates the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women. It is argued that SADC, in its efforts to pursue regional integration and the consolidation of all instruments that protect women, duplicated the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women. While the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development does introduce some new rights and state obligations, its overall effect is that these rights and state obligations do not serve to dramatically enhance the regime for the protection of the human rights of women in the SADC sub-region and, in fact, either merely maintain the or undermine some of the achievements of the AU Protocol and CEDAW. The paper finally suggests that SADC could have adopted a plan of action or adopted robust implementation strategies to give meaningful effect to the imperative of securing the rights of women and the thus far-neglected theme of gender, rather than formulating and adopting a protocol, since the process of adopting a protocol is very costly, especially given the fact that a comprehensive instrument that safeguards the rights of women in Africa already exists.

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