In all countries in the southern African region, human rights are vested in the national constitutions. Almost all governments have signed international treaties like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
However, it is a long process before these treaties have a visible effect on the daily lives of the people in Southern Africa.
Also, the young democracies in the region are being seriously challenged by political instability.
In conflict situations rule of law is usually non-existent. Lawlessness reigns. This has often resulted in gross human rights violations.
In countries like Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, unannounced house warrants by the police are part of the “daily nuisances” of people’s lives. Anytime and anywhere police or military officers can harass and rob them.
Almost the entire region lacks a well functioning legal system. Detainees spend long times in custody.
Civil society organisations can play an important role in the promotion and defence of human rights, and the process of peace building. NiZA's Human Rights and Peace Building Programme aims to support these organisations.