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					                          EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

This memorandum has notes and additional information to assist you in completing the
questionnaire. Please read this memorandum carefully before starting the questionnaire
and refer to it while completing the questionnaire.

a.    Your organisation is requested to complete the attached questionnaire by the
      South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). Section 184 (3) of the
      Constitution requires the SAHRC to require relevant organs of state each year to
      provide it with “information on the measures they have taken towards the
      realisation” of the socio-economic rights (also known as social and economic
      rights). Furthermore, in terms of Section 7 (2) of the Human Rights Commission
      Act (No. 54 of 1994), all organs of state1 must provide the SAHRC with the
      assistance it requires to effectively exercise its powers and perform its duties and

b.         In some cases, the information requested in the questionnaire will require your
           organisation to co-ordinate efforts and collaborate with parastatals and other
           relevant government departments and spheres of government. In such cases,
           please obtain this information from the department or sphere of government
           which is responsible for this and include it in your answers. (For example, the
           questionnaire might contain questions dealing with children and their rights which
           might not fall within your local government’s responsibility.)

           Please remember that co-ordination and collaboration are important principles of
           co-operative government as set out in Chapter 3 of the Constitution, and are
           essential to ensure that comprehensive and accurate information is provided to the

c.         If your organisation is not able to provide any of the information requested, please
           explain fully why this is so and why the information is not available.

In this questionnaire, you will often see the phrase “legislative developments and other
 By “legislative developments”, we mean legislation (national, provincial and local),
    customary law and common law.
 By “other measures” we mean:
         plans;
         policies;

    This refers to the organs of state as explicated in the Constitution.
          practices (by government or structures outside of government);
          programmes;
          structures;
          mechanisms;
          educational/awareness raising
          social;
          financial measures (such as international fund raising); and
          administrative measures.

Documents to be attached to your answers
Please attach any relevant organisational policies that may be helpful in promoting and
fulfilling the rights in the Bill of Rights.

Specific comments

2.     Your organisation’s understanding of its Constitutional obligations
In terms of section 7(2) of the Constitution, the state is required to “respect, protect,
promote and fulfil the rights in the Bill of Rights”. In question 2 (a), you are
requested to explain what your organisation understands by the words “respect”,
“protect”, “promote” and “fulfil” to mean with regard to the socio-economic rights in the

You might find it useful to consider the way in which the international human rights
community defines these terms. They define them as follows:
Respect      The state’s obligation to respect a right is understood to mean that the state
             must not do anything which:
              deprives people of the right (or of access to the right);
              denies or obstructs people in getting the right (or access to the right),
                 for example, by passing a law which makes it extremely difficult for a
                 person or group of persons to get the right (or access to it); or which
              unfairly discriminates against particular individuals and groups in
                 getting the right (or access to it).

               Lastly, where laws or other measures exist which have any of these effects,
               the state is obliged to do away with them and take steps to remedy their

Protect        The state’s obligation to protect a right means that the state must actually
               do something to protect people’s socio-economic rights against invasion
               by a third party. For example, the state must pass laws to protect people
               against arbitrary eviction by their landlords.
Promote and Fulfil
            The state’s obligation to promote and fulfil a right means that the state
            must take reasonable measures (including laws and other measures) to
            make it possible for people to meet their own needs through their own
            initiatives and efforts. Note that a very important part of the obligation to
            “promote” is the obligation to inform and educate people about the right
            and how to get access to it.

3.      Future goals
In this section, you are requested to deal with medium and long term goals set by your

When dealing with this question, please say whether:
 any new groups have been identified as vulnerable groups;
 any new minimum requirements (such as norms and standards) have been set by your
  organisation to ensure that the socio-economic rights are applied in a uniform way.

If you have any suggestions about the protocols please state them as an attachment to the

Contact Details
Research and Documentation Department: Economic and Social Rights Unit
South African Human Rights Commission
Tel: 011 484 8300
Fax: 011 484 7146

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