South Africa 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 South Africa:
  • 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 South Africa 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 South Africa can be viewed at http://www.polity.org.za/html/govdocs/bills/sacon96.html

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

The Constitution enables South Africa 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 an adequate housing (art. 26)
Right to a clean and healthy environment (art. 24)
Right to dignity (art. 10)
Right to education (art. 29)
Right to the equal protection of the laws (art. 9)
Right to food (art. 27)
Right to freedom of association (art. 18)
Right to freedom of expression (art. 16)
Right to freedom from torture and from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (art. 12)
Right to freedom from violence from public or private sources (art. 12)
Right to health (art. 27)
Right to just and favorable work conditions (art. 23(1))
Right to liberty and security (art. 12)
Right to life (art. 11)
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of race (art. 9)
Right to non discrimination on grounds of sex or gender (art. 9)
Right to non discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation (art. 9)
Right to own private property (art. 25)
Right to participate in the affairs of the State through political activity (art. 19)
Right to privacy (art. 14)
Right to receive and impart information (art. 32)
Right to seek redress for violations of rights (art. 34)
Right to social security (art. 27)
Right of children to special protection (art. 28)
Right to work (art. 22)

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

It authorizes South Africa to:

  • take special measures for the advancement of persons or categories of persons "disadvantaged by unfair discrimination" (art. 9(2))
  • provide emergency medical treatment (art. 27)

The Constitution provides for the protection of rights that are particularly relevant to empowering women in caring for their reproductive health:

  • right to bodily and psychological integrity(art. 12(2)). While this right applies equally to men and women, it is particularly relevant for women, as it includes the rights to make decisions about reproduction, to "security in and control over their body," and "not to be subjected to medical or scientific experiments without their informed consent"
  • right to non-discrimination on grounds of pregnancy (art. 9)
  • right to non-discrimination on grounds of marital status (art. 9)
  • right to access reproductive health care (art. 27)

The Constitution creates a Human Rights Commission with the power to investigate and provide adequate redress in case of violation of rights (art. 184).