"Implementation of human rights instruments, and protection and promotion of human rights at the national level is a contemporary phenomenon that is still developing. The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the Paris Principles provide for the creation of national institutions to carry out this task. This has led to national human rights institutions (NHRIs) becoming more prominent actors in the national, regional and international arena. However, NHRIs still face the problems of legitimacy, operational constraints, and ignorant population. These factors constrain the effective functioning of these institutions. It should be noted that the key constraint on the effective functioning of NHRIs is legitimacy. Such institutions usually find themselves not legitimate in the eyes of the people they are created to serve. The above brings to mind the question - what makes a NHRI effective? Generally, there is no consensus as to the effectiveness of NHRIs This study has therefore been triggered by widespread perceptions and reports within civil society that such institutions are left at the mercy of governments in power. Others have seen such institutions as a "double-edged sword" - in the best of circumstances, they strengthen democratic institutions but they can also be mere straw men, part of government's administrative machinery to scuttle international scrutiny. Another issue that has actuated this study is the misconception that people have about some NHRIs. This misconception originates not so much from the actual operation of human rights commissions but from the history of past ombudsman institutions that have purported to protect human rights." -- Chapter 1.
Prepared under the supervision of Professor Michelo Hansungule at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Thesis (LLM (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa)) -- University of Pretoria, 2002.
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