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UN Human Rights in Southern Africa

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The Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) provides technical assistance on the promotion and protection of human rights to 14 countries in Southern Africa. The office covers Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. OHCHR has staff working at the national level in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe and staff in the regional office cover South Africa and the region from Pretoria, with a focus on protecting civic space, early warning and prevention, tackling gender-based violence and discrimination, integrating human rights in development, strengthening national protection systems and human rights reporting and follow up to recommendations.

Type of engagement Regional Office
Year established 1998
Field offices Pretoria
Number of staff 14
Annual budget needs US$ 2,328,000


  • A survey on the state of civic space with 125 responses from 13 countries identifies key risk factors and opportunities to strengthen regional networks to protect human rights defenders.
  • A prevention platform in Malawi captured and provided disaggregated data on trends in human rights violations to strengthen UN advocacy and prevention efforts.
  • In Lesotho, advancing national peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts and integrating human rights in law and policy reforms, including for the security sector, through the Peacebuilding Fund.
  • In Comoros, supporting UN country team advocacy and prevention on human rights in the context of the 2019 elections.
  • In South Africa, support to the emergency response plan on gender-based violence through review of legislation and building the capacity of the judiciary to tackle gender stereotypes.
  • Advancing laws and policies on the rights of people with disabilities and people with albinism and their capacity to monitor implementation of the CRPD through the joint UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in South Africa.
  • Strengthening the mandate of national human rights institutions in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe on monitoring, complaints handling and reporting, and advancing the establishment of NHRIs in Botswana and Lesotho.
  • In Mauritius, developing a digest of human rights indicators which were then systematically included in national implementation and monitoring efforts.
  • Dedicated advocacy and technical cooperation has led to 13 additional ratifications of treaties and protocols, 7 countries reducing their human rights reporting backlog by between 40% and 100%, 9 countries establishing and strengthening national coordination mechanisms on reporting and follow-up to implementation of human rights recommendations.
  • United Nations country teams across the region have benefited from OHCHR support through technical assistance, integrating human rights and leaving no one behind in UN sustainable development cooperation and strengthening collaboration with national human rights institutions, civil society and UN human rights mechanisms.

Partners and Donors

Partners: UN agencies, programmes and affiliated programmes, international and regional organizations, governments of the 14 countries covered by the regional office, national human rights institutions, rule of law institutions, human rights defenders, civil society organisations, academic institutions, and the diplomatic community.

UN Human Rights Focus Areas

Thematic pillars
  • Mechanisms: Increasing implementation of the international human rights mechanisms outcomes
  • Development: Integrating human rights in sustainable development
  • Accountability: Strengthening rule of law and accountability for human rights violations
  • Non-discrimination: Enhancing equality and countering discrimination
  • Participation: Enhancing and protecting civic space and people's participation
  • Peace and Security: Early warning, prevention & protection of human rights in situations of conflict & insecurity
  • Prevention
  • Global constituency
  • Civic space
  • Inequalities
  • Corruption
  • People on the move
Spotlight populations
  • Women
  • Young people
  • Persons with disabilities 

Last reviewed: October 2019