Central to the process of the institutionalisation of democratic governance in Southern Africa is the extent to which a human rights culture and practice are embedded within the current political landscape. There are numerous international human rights instruments to which Southern African states are party. But it is one thing to sign and ratify these international conventions and quite another to domesticate them and translate them into the living experience of the peoples of the region. This is the area in which the centrality of a parliament in inculcating a democratic culture and practice is useful. The institutionalisation and entrenchment of a culture of human rights obviously demands, among other things, that political tolerance exists and that institutions of democracy such as the parliament play their rightful role. It is essentially within the legislature that ruling and opposition parties engage closely and such engagement may provide a measure of whether or not democracy in a given country is vibrant and robust enough to ensure a human rights culture and practice. This paper teases out this complex problem and other related issues such as gender equality, the role of the youth and the place of the media and civil society, with a special focus on the Southern African experience.
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Categories: Journal of African Elections