International Legal Obligations

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The Chief Directorate: International Legal Relations is involved in direct liaison and negotiations at administrative and technical level with foreign states to promote international legal co-operation, and for the possible conclusion of extradition and mutual legal-assistance agreements.  The chief directorate also aims to establish greater uniformity between the legal systems of southern African states, especially with the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The chief directorate co-ordinates human-rights issues at international level under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU).


  • South Africa’s 4th-8th periodic reports on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) were reviewed by the UN in August 2016. Part of the outcomes of the review were recommendations, in the form of concluding observations [08 Mar 2017].
  • Acceded to the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in Oct 2012. Cabinet approved in October 2012 that Parliament be approached to accede to the ICESCR ( a process is uderway to approach Parliament for accession to this instrument). The ICESCR is a Convention which seeks to protect and promote basic socio-economic rights such as the rights to food, housing, health care, education, land, water, social security and many others. These rights are complemented by the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs)in that they seek to promote and improve the basic living standards and conditions of peoples of the world as is the case with the MDGs. [13 Feb '13]
  • Submitted our Country Report to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Sep 2012. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all one-hundred and ninety-two (192) UN Member States once every four years. This is a mechanism which tests the fulfilment by each State of its human rights obligations.
  • The ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other cruel, Inhuman or degrading Treatment and or Punishment (OPCAT).