Socio-economic Rights: Progressive Realisation?

The Foundation for Human Rights was established by President Mandela’s government and the European Union in 1996, the year that the South African Constitution was approved by our country’s first democratic parliament, complete with its ground-breaking Bill of Rights and extensive provisions for
securing the socioeconomic rights of citizens. The Foundation’s mandate then was to contribute to addressing the legacy of apartheid and to help build a
constitutional state.

In the years since then, the Foundation has pursued its mission as both a grant-maker and facilitator of programmes that promote and protect human rights. We work to address the legacy of apartheid, to promote social transformation and to build a human rights-based culture based on the Constitution. We do this through rights education, by supporting civil society organisations, and through programmes which empower vulnerable groups and build participatory democracy. The Foundation also supports programmes which bring government, chapter nines and civil society together to promote constitutional rights in order to build a capable state. Our mission has even expanded overseas, where we work to support the transitions of other countries to a human rights-based culture.

The FHR has a long-standing relationship with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD) and is the department’s implementing partner in the Socio-Economic Justice for All (SEJA) programme, intended to assist the most marginalised and vulnerable groups in the country. SEJA continues the work of the Access to Justice and Promotion of Constitutional Rights (AJPCR) programme (2011–2014).

One of the radical aims of the Constitution, stated in the Preamble, was that a new social order in South Africa should not only establish the right of citizens to live free from all forms of discrimination and abuses of power, but should also ‘improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person’.

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