International Legal Obligations
About the Unit
The Chief Directorate: International Legal Relations deals with bilateral and multilateral issues which involves interacting with international bodies, such as the United Nations, the African Union, Southern African Development Community and the International Criminal Court; liaising with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (and other government departments) as well as South African Foreign Missions on international legal matters.
The North and Multilateral Directorate also deals with the handling of human rights and humanitarian law matters at bilateral and multilateral (international) levels, including the negotiation of human rights treaties, declarations and resolutions, as well as writing country reports on these instruments. Criminal and civil matters at bilateral and multilateral (international) levels are also dealt with within the Chief Directorate, and this includes the negotiation and conclusion of extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties (also declarations and resolutions on criminal matters) in criminal and civil matters. Requests for extradition, mutual legal assistance in criminal and civil matters are dealt with by the Legal Requests Directorate within the Chief Directorate, as well as service of process and Rogatory Commissions. Technical assistance to foreign states and international and regional organizations is coordinated within the Chief Directorate.
The functions of the chief directorate are divided into eight broad categories:
- Regular liaison with SADC states.
- Co-ordinating all Commonwealth matters pertaining to the administration of justice.
- Interacting with other international bodies, such as the UN, the Hague Conference and the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law.
- Interacting with foreign states outside the SADC region.
- Negotiating extradition and mutual legal-assistance agreements with other countries/international bodies.
- Preparing Cabinet and Parliament documentation for the ratification of human-rights treaties, including report writing.
- Processing requests for extradition, mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, Interrogatory commissions and service of process.
- Processing requests for maintenance in terms of the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act, 1963 (Act 80 of 1963).