Nigeria 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 Nigeria:
  • 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 Nigeria 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 Nigeria can be viewed at

The Constitution of Nigeria is an important tool for the protection and promotion of human rights.

The Constitution enables Nigeria 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. 34)
Right to equal pay for equal work (art. 42)
Right to freedom from torture, cruel or inhuman or degrading treatment (art. 34)
Right to freedom of association (art. 40)
Right to freedom of expression (art. 39)
Right to freedom of movement (art. 41)
Right to health (art. 17)
Right to just and favorable conditions (art. 16)
Right to liberty (art. 35)
Right to life (art. 33)
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of ethnicity (art. 42)
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of sex (art. 42)
Right to privacy (art. 37)
Right to receive and impart information (art. 39)
Right to seek redress in court for violations of rights (art. 46)

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

The Constitution further defines the obligations of Nigeria to ensure those rights. All of the following seek to improve individual empowerment. Nigeria must:

  • provide adequate housing, nutrition, a national minimum living wage, sick and unemployment benefits (art. 16(2)(d))
  • provide equality of wages between men and women (art. 17(3)(e))
  • ensure the heath, safety and welfare of workers (art. 17(3)(c))
  • promote the welfare of citizens on a basis of social justice and equality of opportunity (art. 16(1)(b))
  • enable the participation of citizens in government (art. 14(2)(c))
  • ensure there are adequate medical and health facilities for all (art. 17(3)(d))
  • protect children and youth (art. 17(3)(f))
  • promote family life (art. 17(3)(h))

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

The Constitution provides that persons suffering from infectious or contagious diseases, or persons addicted to drugs, may see their right to liberty restricted, "for the purpose of their care or treatment or the protection of the community" (art. 35(1)(e)).

What do restrictions entail? By authorizing restrictions to rights, it is acknowledged that Nigeria may be confronted with situations that entail an infringement on rights. In such situations, Nigeria may take measures 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