South African Human Rights Commission

The South African Human Rights Commission is the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) of South Africa. It was established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

The Commission was inaugurated on 2 October 1995 under the Human Rights Commission Act 54 of 1994 and as provided for by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 200 of 1993. The Constitution is the highest law in the country and it was adopted to heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights. These rights are listed in the Bill of Rights, in Chapter 2 of the Constitution.



The mandate of the Commission as contained in Section 184 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996 is as follows:

1. The South African Human Rights Commission must

  • promote respect for human rights and a culture of human rights;
  • promote the protection, development and attainment of human rights; and
  • monitor and assess the observance of human rights in the Republic.

2. The Commission has the powers, as regulated by the national legislation, necessary to perform its functions, including the power

  • investigate and report on the observance of human rights;
  • take steps and secure appropriate redress where human rights have been violated;
  • carry out research; and
  • educate.

3. Each year, the Commission must require relevant organs of state to provide the Commission with information on the measures that they have taken towards the realisation of the rights in the Bill of Rights concerning housing, health care, food, water, social security,education and the environment.

4. The Commission has the additional powers and functions prescribed by national legislation.



Transforming society. Securing rights. Restoring dignity.



The Commission as the independent National Human Rights Institution is created to support constitutional democracy through promoting, protecting and monitoring the attainment of everyone’s human rights in South Africa without fear, favour or prejudice.



The values of the Commission are: intergrity, honesty, respect, objectivity, Batho Pele Principles, and equality



The South African Human Rights Commission is made up of Commissioners and a Secretariat. Commissioners provide strategic leadership and direct policy. They are appointed by Parliament on a seven-year term and can be reappointed to an additional term.



The Danish Institute for Human Rights has partnered with the South African Human Rights Commission to produce the South Africa Human Rights and Business Country Guide. Read the full Country Guide here.