OHCHR – Southern Africa Regional Office
The Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was established in 1998. ROSA assists States (government ministries, Parliaments, the judiciary and law enforcement agencies), United Nations agencies, national human rights institutions, and civil society organizations with the goal of achieving the full realization of human rights in the region. ROSA covers the following 14 countries: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. ROSA provides training and advisory and capacity-building services to stakeholders, and works closely with regional mechanisms, such as the African Union (AU) and sub-regional mechanisms, such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).
The Southern African region is very diverse. It has some of the richest and some of the poorest States in Africa. Several countries have well-functioning national institutions and mechanisms to protect and promote human rights, but a number of human rights challenges remain. The region has the highest prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in the world. Some countries have recently faced, and others continue to face, political violence, insecurity, and serious human rights abuses. Discrimination remains an important human rights concern. The independence of the judiciary, access to justice, prison conditions, freedom of expression and assembly, economic, social and cultural rights, land issues, migration and xenophobia, impunity and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) are among the main human rights challenges in the region.
The relative stability in most of the countries, and the encouraging development and human rights achievements made by some States, give hope for the overall improvement of the human rights situation in the region.
Nine of the 14 countries covered by the Regional Office have been reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), namely Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia. Seychelles, Swaziland and Zimbabwe will be reviewed at the 10th and 11th sessions of the UPR Working Group in 2011.
The Regional Office for Southern Africa conducts activities in the following areas:
- Strengthening national and regional human rights protection systems, with a special focus on national human rights institutions.
- Addressing discrimination through technical assistance and advocacy.
- Increasing engagement of national stakeholders with international human rights mechanisms, such as the Universal Periodic Review, Treaty-based bodies, and special procedures of the Human Rights Council.
- Ensuring a human rights-based approach in UN Country Teams’ programmes and planning.
By the end of the biennium (2010 – 2011), ROSA hopes to achieve the following:
- National human rights institutions established, or strengthened to comply with the Paris Principles, by providing information, advice, and training on good practices for national human rights institutions and facilitating participation in regional and international networks.
- Measures taken to improve access to justice for victims of sexual and gender-based violence and victims of xenophobia, through training sessions and advocacy activities.
- Increased compliance and engagement with the international and regional human rights mechanisms, including the United Nations treaty-body system, the special procedures of the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review, including through advocacy, assistance and awareness-raising initiatives.
- Increased integration of human rights standards and principles into UNCT programmes
1 March 2011: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed deep concern about the continuing illegal detention and reported ill-treatment of 45 members of civil society in Zimbabwe, who have allegedly been charged with treason for discussing events in Egypt and Tunisia. She also called for their speedy release. For more information, click here.
1 February 2011: The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Jorge Bustamante, praised South Africa for some of the measures it has taken to alleviate the impact of the economic crisis on migrants. However, at the end of a nine-day mission to the country, he noted that the authorities are still facing a range of key challenges. For more information, click here.
21 January 2011: The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has considered the combined second to fourth periodic report of South Africa on how that country implements the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. For more information, click here.
10 December 2010: Preliminary conclusions and observations to the Visit to Mozambique by the Special Rapporteur on the independence of Judges and Lawyers. The Special Rapporteur welcomed the prominent place that the Constitution of Mozambique gives to the independence of the judiciary, but observed that many obstacles remain in practice for a truly impartial judiciary. For more information, click here.
10 December 2010: At the end of her official visit to Zambia, the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, encouraged the national institutions to adopt and implement the “Gender Based Violence Bill”, and called for strengthened efforts in the fight against impunity. For more information, click here.
19 November 2010: “The Government of South Africa should pursue its efforts to strengthen the regulatory framework for private military and security companies exporting their services abroad,” said Alexander Nikitin, Chairperson of the United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries, at the end of a ten-day visit to South Africa, which took the UN experts to Cape Town and Pretoria. For more information, click here.
Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division (FOTCD)
Contact in Geneva, Switzerland.
Tel. +41 22 917 92 50
Nouvelle route Bastos
Rue 1705, Numéro 606
Tel.: +237 2221 2474 +23 74 83 03 56 ;
74 83 01 78
+8821 637 220 464 (satellite)
Fax: (237) 221 2475
(Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
New ECA Building
Tel.: (251 11) 544 3105
Fax: (251 11) 551 6078
Regional Office for Southern Africa
UN House, Metropark Building
351 Francis Baard Street
P.O. Box 6541
Tel.: +27 12 354 8686
Fax: +27 12 354 8681
Parcelle n°20, en face de l'hôtel Azur, Route du King Fahd Palace, BP
154, Dakar, Senegal , Tel. : +221 33 869 39 69
Other OHCHR Offices
Republic of Congo
United Nations Country Teams in Africa region
Other UN links
Security Council resolutions
Secretary-General reports to the Security Council
International Criminal Court|
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
African Court of Justice
Economic Community of Central African
Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa
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