Values, Policies and Rights

Challenging the negative discourse on human rights in Africa
Kasambala T: SAIIA Policy Briefing No 104, September 2014

The recent proliferation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and independent media across Africa is argued by the author to be an important positive development. They are said to play an essential role by investigating government policy, exposing corruption and human rights violations, advocating for the rights of minorities and vulner-able communities, and providing social services. However the continent’s leaders reject what they see as an imposition of ‘Western’ ideas of human rights. This policy briefing highlights the shift in human rights discourse among African leaders towards more anti-imperialist rhetoric and the placing of African traditions above human rights. It provides examples of how local civil society organisations (CSOs) are challenging this view in the face of increasing government attacks. CSOs are argued to be crucial to positive transformation and the universal protection and promotion of human rights, and the author proposes that more needs to be done to protect human rights and create an enabling environment for CSOs.

Changing gendered norms about women and girls at the level of household and community: a review of the evidence
Keleher H, Franklin L: Global Public Health 3(S1):42-57, 2008

Gendered norms are embedded in social structures, operating to restrict the rights, opportunities, and capabilities, of women and girls, causing significant burdens, discrimination, subordination, and exploitation. This review, developed for the Women and Gender Equity Knowledge Network of the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, sought to identify the best available research evidence about programmatic interventions, at the level of household and community, that have been effective for changing gender norms to increase the status of women. The focus was on developing countries. Key themes were identified: education of women and girls; economic empowerment of women; violence against women, including female genital mutilation/cutting; and men and boys. A key finding is, that targeting women and girls is a sound investment, but outcomes are dependent on integrated approaches and the protective umbrella of policy and legislative actions.

Charter of the North African Network for Food Sovereignty
North African Network for Food Sovereignty: Pambazuka News, July 2017

Activists from organisations in North Africa met in Tunis in July 2017 to set up the North African Network for Food Sovereignty. The network’s charter states that food sovereignty is the human right of peoples as individuals and communities to define their own food systems. Food sovereignty is tied to the right of people to self-determination at the political, economic, social, cultural and environmental levels. It means, working with nature and protecting resources to produce sufficient, healthy and culturally appropriate food by giving priority to local production and staple food, putting in place popular agrarian reforms, guaranteeing free access to seeds, protecting national produce and by involving people in elaborating agricultural policies. The charter identifies that this is undermined by extractivist policies implemented in the name of development and by neoliberal adjustment policies. In order to address this the North African Food Sovereignty Network was formed to achieve food sovereignty, climate and environmental justice, through critical studies; campaigns, workshops, direct actions as well as networking, coordination and solidarity with movements that share objectives.

Child consent in South African law: Implications for researchers, service providers and policy-makers
Strode A, Slack C, Essack Z: South African Medical Journal 100: 247-249, 2010

Children under 18 are legal minors who, in South African law, are not fully capable of acting independently without assistance from parents/legal guardians. However, in recognition of the evolving capacity of children, there are exceptional circumstances where the law has granted minors the capacity to act independently. This paper describes legal norms for child consent to health-related interventions in South Africa, and argues that the South African parliament has taken an inconsistent approach to: the capacity of children to consent; the persons able to consent when children do not have capacity; and restrictions on the autonomy of children or their proxies to consent. In addition, the rationale for the differing age limitations, capacity requirements and public policy restrictions has not been specified. The paper argues that these inconsistencies make it difficult for stakeholders interacting with children to ensure that they act lawfully.

Cholera in a time of health system collapse: Violations of health rights and the cholera outbreak
Zimbabwean Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR)

Despite the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe continuing for more than six months, sanitation remains poor and lack of access to safe drinking water persists against the backdrop of a collapsed health system with degraded infrastructure and very few health workers. Health in Zimbabwe is presently largely unavailable, unacceptable, inaccessible and of poor quality. This report concludes that Zimbabwe will require long term commitment of the humanitarian and donor agencies working in the country with large scale, multi-faceted assistance to address the situation. It urges the government of Zimbabwe to formulate an emergency health response plan to restore the public health system must be produced and implemented. The authors argue that government should also ensure the supply of clean drinking water and adequate sanitation.

Citizen consumers? Using public services is not like shopping
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

A new British white paper on health suggests that patients should be offered more choice. However, visiting the doctor or phoning the police is simply not like shopping, according to people questioned for a new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), which found that most of us reject the trend towards treating everyone as 'consumers'.

CIVICUS condemns Ugandan Anti-homosexuality Bill
e-Civicus: 17 November 2009

CIVICUS, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation, condemns the introduction of the Anti-homosexuality Bill 2009 in the Uganda Parliament on 14 October 2009. The Bill seeks to roll back international human rights obligations undertaken by Uganda by declaring that the provisions of any international legal instrument contradictory to the spirit of the Bill shall be null and void. It seeks to criminalise the work of civil society organisations that promote the rights of lesbian, gay bisexual and transgendered persons through cancellation of registration and punishment of the head of the organisation with seven years imprisonment. Other provisions of the Bill identified as repugnant by Civicus include punishment by death for HIV infected persons if they have sexual relations with a person of the same gender; life imprisonment for attempting to contract a marriage with a person of the same gender; deportation from Uganda of citizens or permanent residents if they have sexual relations with a person of the same gender; and life imprisonment for sexual relations between people of the same gender. CIVICUS urges the Parliament and the Government of Uganda to respect the human rights of its people and uphold commitments to the International Bill of Rights and the Ugandan Constitution.

Clinical guidelines for the management of HIV and AIDS in adults and adolescents
South African National Department of Health: 2010

These clinical guidelines are designed to address the current goals of the South African government's programme for managing HIV and AIDS, including: integrating services for HIV, tuberculosis (TB), maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health, and wellness; earlier HIV diagnosis; preventing HIV disease progression; averting AIDS-related deaths; retaining patients on lifelong therapy; reducing infection; and mitigating the impact of HIV and AIDS. They contain relevant information on the government's national eligibility criteria for starting anti-retroviral therapy (ART) regimens, national ART regimens, national monitoring for adults and adolescents with HIV, national ART and anti-retroviral regimens for HIV positive pregnant women and their infants, and recommended ART regimens for treatment-naive adults and adolescents. They also indicate what to expect in the first four months of ART and when it is necessary to switch ART. Concomitant TB and its relationship with HIV is also addressed. Most of the document is dedicated to the relevant criteria and correct procedures for patient management.

Closing the gap on gender-based violence
Integrated Regional Information Network, 19 January 2007

In a country long sickened by the frighteningly high level of sexual violence, one of the greatest challenges facing South Africa is closing the gap between the rhetoric of gender equality and the reality on the ground. The prevalence of gender-based violence is reflected in stark statistics: between April 2004 and March 2005, 55,114 cases of rape were reported to the police. The number of actual cases was likely much higher, considering only an estimated one in nine women report cases of sexual assault, according to the Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC also estimates that a woman is killed by her intimate partner every six hours.

Colonising African Values: How the US Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa
Kaoma KJ: Political Research Associates, 2012

This report reports on the impact of Christian conservatism from United States on human rights policies in Africa. A number of churches are reported in this paper to be working in Africa to promote US ‘family values’, campaigning against condom use to prevent HIV transmission, claiming that family planning is a Western conspiracy to reduce African development, and supporting campaigns to pursue the death penalty for gays and lesbians. The author argues that government and civil society should confront the myths of human rights advocacy being western neocolonialism, noting indigenous African human rights agendas and support African advocacy to respect human rights for all.