The Republic of South Africa is a member of the United Nations and the African Union. It has ratified many UN Human Rights Conventions (compare list on the right) and thus has made binding international commitments to adhere to the standards laid down in these universal human rights documents.
South Africa is an eleven languages-speaking country, among them Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans and English, at the southern tip of Africa. With an area of 1,221,037 square km it has an extensive coastline on the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. On a global scale, its population density is low. The capital of the country, which became independent on 31 May 1910 from the United Kingdom, is Pretoria. South Africa is a member of the regional economic community SADC.
With a Human Development Index of 0.68 South Africa ranks 129th of 182 countries ranked in the UNDP Human Development Report of 2009. Life expectancy of the 48.7 million inhabitants at birth is 50 years, population growth is 1.7 percent per year. GNI is 5,820 US-$ per capita. External debt is 15.8 percent of gross national income. Primary school enrolment is 85.8 percent.
In as far as South Africa has ratified the Optional Protocols for UN Human Rights Conventions or has accepted the Competence of the corresponding UN Treaty Bodies (compare list on the right), the inhabitants of South Africa and their representatives are able to invoke their human rights through these bodies.
All inhabitants of South Africa may turn to the UN Human Rights Committee through procedure 1503, to the Special Rapporteurs for violations of specific human rights or to ECOSOC for women's rights violations.
Since South Africa is a member state of UNESCO, its citizens may use the UNESCO procedure for human rights violations in UNESCO's fields of mandate.
Employers' or workers' and certain other organizations (not individuals) of South Africa may file complaints through the ILO procedure in the cases of those conventions which South Africa has ratified.
Since South Africa is an AU member, its citizens and NGOs may file complaints to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
They may also file complaints according to the EU guidelines (on Human Rights Defenders, Death Penalty and Torture) to Embassies of EU Member States and the Delegations of the European Commission.
In cases of human rights violations by multinational enterprises, they may also invoke the National Contact Point in an OECD member state.
South Africa has joined the International Criminal Court, it may thus be called upon in case of severe crimes.