Ghana has ratified the following documents:
  • African (Banjul) Charter on Human and People's Rights
  • Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
  • International Covenant Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The following documents further define the obligations of Ghana:
  • Beijing +5: Further Actions and Initiatives to Implement the Beijing Platform for Action
  • Beijing Platform for Action
  • Cairo Programme of Action
  • UN Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS) Declaration of Commitment
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The documents listed above require Ghana to protect and promote the following rights:

Right to development
Right to education
Right to equal protection of the law
Right to freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment
Right to highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
Right to housing
Right to just and favorable work conditions
Right to liberty and security of the person
Right to life and survival
Right to marry and found a family
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of age
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of disability (i.e. HIV positive)
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of marital status
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of race and ethnicity
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of sex and gender
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation
Right to private and family life
Right to receive and impart information
Right to the benefits of scientific progress

Constitutional Protection of Rights

The Constitution of Ghana can be viewed at

The Constitution of Ghana is an important tool for the protection and promotion of human rights. It enables Ghana to translate international agreements into domestic law, and obliges all branches of government to respect and ensure the rights it enunciates.

The Constitution provides for the protection of the following rights, among others. This empowers individuals in making reproductive health decisions, and helps create the economic and social conditions conducive to good sexual and reproductive health.

Right to dignity (art. 15.1)
Right to education (art. 25)
Right to the equal protection of the laws (art. 17)
Right to freedom from torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment (art. 15.2)
Right to freedom of association (art. 21.1(e))
Right to freedom of expression (art. 21.1(a))
Right to freedom of movement (art. 21(1)(g))
Right to inherit (art. 22.1, art. 28.1(a))
Right to just and favorable work conditions (art. 24.1)
Right to liberty and security (art. 14)
Right to life (art. 13)
Right to non-discrimination on the ground of race (art. 12.2, art. 17)
Right to non-discrimination on the ground of sex (art. 17)
Right to own property (art. 18.1)
Right to privacy (art. 18.2)
Right to receive and impart information (art. 21.1(f))
Right to seek and obtain redress for violations of rights (art. 2, art. 23, art. 33)
Right to special protection for minors under the age of 18 (art. 28)

The Constitution includes other provisions that promote and protect rights relevant for good sexual and reproductive health.

The Constitution specifies that this list of rights is not exhaustive (art. 33.5).

What does that entail? Even if other rights protected under international law are not listed in the Constitution, advocates may use this provision as an argument that those rights uphold policy initiatives improving sexual and reproductive health. This provision also grants advocates an argument against policymakers if they assert that they are not constitutionally required to take measures to protect rights, even if such rights are relevant to sexual and reproductive health.

However, it is possible that this provision is mainly intended to enable broader interpretation of laws in a court context. For more information or additional research, please click on the link "learn more about a specific reproductive health and human rights topic" or contact the Human Rights Working Group.

It specifically protects the rights of women and empowers them in their economic and social status, and enables them to make health-related decisions:

  • right to equality in marriage regarding access to property and the distribution of property upon dissolution of the marriage (art. 22.3)
  • right of a spouse to a reasonable portion of the estate of a deceased spouse (art. 22.1)
  • right to equal pay for equal work (art. 24.)
  • right of mothers to receive special care during a reasonable period before and after child-birth (art. 27)
  • right of working women to paid maternity leave (art. 27)
  • right of women to equal training and promotion (art. 27)
Moreover the Constitution imposes obligations on Ghana to improve women's social status. It obliges Ghana to:
  • provide "facilities for the care of children below school-going age to enable women? realise their full potential." (art. 27)
  • "take all necessary steps so as to ensure the full integration of women into the mainstream of the economic development" (art. 36.6)
  • "guarantee the ownership of property and the right of inheritance" (art. 36.7)
  • "achieve reasonable regional and gender balance in recruitment and appointment to public offices" (art. 35.6(b))
The Constitution specifically protects the rights of children, and requires Ghana to protect the family as a fundamental development environment for the child (art. 28).

Many other provisions are relevant to foster a policy environment conducive to good sexual and reproductive health. The Constitution obliges Ghana to:

  • ensure the participation of groups in the development process (art. 37.2(a))
  • protect vulnerable groups (art. 37.2(b))
  • provide adequate means of livelihood and suitable employment and public assistance to the needy (art. 36.1), and to improve the conditions of life in rural areas (art. 36.2(d))
  • promote access by all citizens to all public services and facilities (art. 35.3)
  • advance knowledge and awareness of rights by all individuals (art. 35.4)
  • encourage the role of the private sector in the economy (art. 36.2(b))
  • "safeguard the health, safety and welfare of all persons in employment" (art. 36.10) and "encourage the participation of workers in the decision-making process at the work place" (art. 36.11)
  • strive to respect principles of accountability (art. 37.1)
Why is that important? It is the value added of human rights to public health to make public authorities accountable for failing to ensure rights. Accountability is also a mechanism to ensure implementation of policies and laws, including those adopted to further individual rights. For further information or research, please contact the Human Rights Working Group.

The Constitution also imposes obligations on citizens, including the one to respect the rights of others (art. 41(d).

However, the Constitution allows restrictions to rights in certain cases.

Ghana may take any measure affecting rights "in matters relating to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other matters of personal law" (art. 17.4(b)).

What does that entail? The Constitution explicitly states that measures adopted in relation to those aspects of private life will not be considered discriminatory. This has direct consequences on the status of married women. Indeed, it means that women's right to equality, although provided for under international law, cannot be enforced if laws are adopted and discriminate against women in all of those matters. For additional information, please click on the link "learn about specific reproductive health and human rights topics."

The Constitution also authorizes restrictions to the right to liberty "in the case of a person suffering from an infectious or contagious disease, [?] a person addicted to drugs [?], for the purpose of his care or treatment or the protection of the community" (art. 14.1(d)).

What do restrictions entail? By authorizing restrictions to rights, it is acknowledged that Ghana may be confronted with situations such that they will necessarily entail an infringement on rights. Consequently, in such situations, Bangladesh may take the necessary measures in order to address a public health problem without violating its own constitution.

Restrictions are authorized under international law if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. the restriction is provided for and carried out in accordance with the law
  2. the restriction is in the interest of a legitimate objective of general interest (e.g., the protection of public health)
  3. the restriction is strictly necessary in a democratic society to achieve the objective
  4. there are no less restrictive means available to reach the same objective
  5. the restriction is not drafted or imposed arbitrarily, i.e. in an unreasonable or otherwise discriminatory manner