Authors: Ayebaesin Jacob Beredugo and Frans Viljoen

Keyword: protection of fundamental rights, protection of human rights, South Africa


Agenda 2063: A3

Although national Human Rights Commissions (NHRCs) are institutional mechanisms suitable for advancing the domestic implementation of socioeconomic rights, traditional approaches to the advancement of these rights have more readily focused on the role of courts. This process has witnessed the prioritisation of the justiciability of these rights above other non- and quasi-judicial means for their realisation. As a result, contemporary scholarship has barely noticed the role and practical efforts of NHRCs in this regard. To fill this gap, this article evaluates the mandate, activities, and effectiveness of NHRCs in three selected Commonwealth African countries – Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda – and identifies four factors which either impair or enhance their effective performance of this role: the explicit provision of socio-economic rights as justiciable guarantees in the constitutional framework of states; the granting of an explicit legal or constitutional mandate on socio-economic rights to NHRCs; the provision of adequate institutional, functional, and financial independence for NHRCs; and a high level of institutional support from other institutions that ensure states’ accountability for human rights.