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Our work in Southern Africa

Advancing Rights in Southern Africa (ARISA) 

The program will concentrate actions at the national and regional level with a focus on the following countries: Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.

  • Improve the enabling environment for the promotion and protection of human rights;

  • Strengthen the capacity and engagement of regional and local civil society actors to seek redress for rights violations;

  • Increase public demand for improved rule of law and human rights protection; and

  • Foster South-South community of practice for knowledge and resource sharing for continued efforts to address human rights violations.

ABA ROLI is a key implementation partner for the Southern Africa Regional Human Rights Program (SARHRP). Undertaken in coordination with Freedom House, Pact, and Internews, the project represents a large-scale undertaking to develop and strengthen human rights in the Southern Africa region. Through strengthening legal frameworks and growing public awareness, ARISA works to enshrine human rights as an accessible and enforceable tool to protect the region’s vulnerable and marginalized populations.

Throughout the last decade, the South Africa region has grown increasingly hostile to human rights defenders and discourse. Laws in the South African Development Community states have grown more restrictive, as rates of violence against media actors and human rights defenders rise. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) with rights-based mandates face greater barriers and public censure while carrying out their work. The closely interrelated areas of democratic governance and rule of law follow similar patterns of erosion, as human rights values become increasingly undermined.

By leveraging implementation partners’ diverse range of technical expertise, ARISA takes a comprehensive approach to building legal protections and fostering an environment conducive for civil society advocacy. ABA ROLI contributes its expertise in rule of law strengthening by working with institutions to ensure accountability for rights violations and enhancing legal protections for marginalized groups. 

ABA ROLI provides technical assistance to local partners, engages in and supports strategic litigation in the four thematic areas of concern in the region, provides capacity building to advocates in the area of public interest and strategic litigation, monitors ongoing cases of human rights violations or charges against human rights defenders, and seeks to identify and address shortcomings in legal protections. ABA ROLI also provides technical training and subgrant resources to a number of CSOs throughout the region, growing a network of advocates, which will continue sustained strategic litigation and advocacy to secure needed reforms.