Uganda 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 Uganda:
  • 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 Uganda 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 Uganda can be viewed at http://www.parliament.go.ug/Constitute.htm

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

The Constitution enables Uganda 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 a clean and healthy environment (art. 39)
Right to education (art. 30)
Right to the equal protection of the laws (art. 21)
Right to freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (art. 24)
Right to freedom of association (art. 29(1)(e))
Right to freedom of expression (art. 29)
Right to freedom of movement (art. 29(2))
Right to inherit the property of a spouse (art. 31)
Right to just and favorable work conditions (art. 40)
Right to liberty and security (art. 23)
Right to life (art. 22)
Right to marry and found a family (art. 31)
Right to non discrimination on grounds of disability (art. 21)
Right to non discrimination on grounds of race (art. 21)
Right to non discrimination on grounds of sex (art. 21)
Right to own property (art. 26)
Right to participate in the affairs of government (art. 38)
Right to privacy (art. 27)
Right to seek and obtain redress for violations of constitutional rights (art. 50)
Right to work (art. 40)

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

The fact that the Constitution protects a number of rights does not preclude the application of other rights that are not explicitly listed (art. 45). What does that entail? Even if other rights protected under international law are not listed in the Constitution (e.g., right to freely consent to marriage), 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 requires Uganda to disseminate knowledge about the constitution and the rights it protects (art. 4).

How can this be used? This provision gives a powerful argument for awareness-raising activities.

The Constitution broadly imposes on Uganda the duty to promote and improve the status of vulnerable and marginalized groups. Uganda must "take affirmative action in favour of groups marginalised on the basis of gender, age, disability or any other reason created by history, tradition or custom, for the purpose of redressing imbalances which exist against them" (art. 32(1)).

The Constitution provides for rights that are particularly relevant for empowering women regarding their reproductive health, further defines the rights of women and Uganda's obligations towards them:

  • right to consent freely to marriage (art. 31(3))
  • right to equality during marriage and at its dissolution (art. 31(1))
  • right to equal pay for equal work (art. 40(1)(b))
  • right to protection for maternity during employment (art. 40(4))
  • right to dignity on an equal basis with men (art. 33(1))
  • right to equal treatment with men, including the opportunity to participate equally in political, economic and social activities (art. 33(4))
  • right to affirmative action to redress imbalances resulting from history, tradition or custom (art. 33(5))
  • Uganda must "make appropriate laws for the protection of the rights of widows and widowers to inherit the property of their deceased spouses" (art. 31(2))
  • Uganda must protect the rights of women, taking into consideration their maternal functions (art. 33(3))
  • Uganda must take positive steps to ensure women's welfare and enable them to realize their potential and advancement (art. 33(2)).
  • The Constitution expressly prohibits laws, customs, or traditions that undermine women's status, dignity, welfare, and interests (art. 33(6)).

The Constitution further defines the rights of children (art. 34), including:

  • the right to education under the joint responsibility of parents and the State (art. 34(2))
  • the right to benefit from medical treatment, education, and any other social or economic benefit free of discrimination (art. 34(3))
  • the right to be free from exploitation (art. 34(4))
  • the right of orphans and vulnerable children to special protection (art. 34(7))

The Constitution further protects the dignity of persons with disabilities, and obliges Uganda to take appropriate measures for them to realize their full mental and physical potential (art. 35).

How can this be used? Whether this provision applies to persons living with or affected by HIV/AIDS requires additional research. For further research and information, please contact the Human Rights Working Group.

Traditional and cultural leaders are specifically recognized under the Constitution (Chapter 16). They may enjoy certain as granted by custom or tradition (art. 246(3)(c)), so long as this does not impair others' individual rights (art. 246(4)).
How can this be used? This may apply in the context of activities with faith-based organizations. For additional research and information, please contact the Human Rights Working Group.

The Constitution also encourages the participation of minorities in decision processes (art. 36).

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

The Constitution authorizes restrictions to rights generally (art. 43), and in specific instances:

  • the right to liberty in order to prevent the spread of an infectious or contagious disease (art. 23(1)(d)), and in order to provide care and treatment in the case of drug addicts (art. 23(1)(f))
  • the right to own private property if it is necessary for the protection of public health (art. 26(2)(a))
    What do restrictions entail? By authorizing restrictions, it is acknowledged that Uganda may be confronted with situations that will entail an infringement on rights. In such situations, Uganda 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