Environmental and Developmental Rights in the Southern African Development Community With Specific Reference to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of South Africa (K. Bindu)


Kihangi Bindu


Environmental rights, International Law, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Development, United Nations


This study examines the effectiveness of environmental and developmental rights within the SADC region, especially the status of their implementation and enforcement in the DRC and the RSA. The SADC Treaty recognizes implicitly the rights to environment and to development. Unfortunately, the unequivocal commitment to deal with human rights within the region is not translated with equal force into the normative framework established by the Treaty or into SADC’s programmed activities. No institution has been established with the specific mandate to deal with human rights issues, neither are there any protocols or sectors especially entrusted with human rights protection and promotion. The SADC member States do not share the same understanding or agenda on matters pertaining to the respect for, and the promotion, protection
and the fulfilment, of human rights at the regional level. The inception of environmental and developmental rights within the Constitution of the DRC is still in its infancy compared to the situation in South Africa. Implementation and enforcement remain poor and need important support from all organs of state and from the Congolese citizens. A strong regulatory framework pertaining to human rights (environmental and developmental rights) remains an urgent issue. Guidance may be found in the South African model for the implementation and enforcement of human rights, although the realization of the right to environment in South Africa is hampered by a number of factors that cause the degradation of the environment. Against South Africa’s socio-economic and political background, the constitutionalization of the right to development remains of critical concern to a sustainable future for all. The Congolese and South African peoples need to be made aware of their constitutional rights, especially their environmental and development rights, and the institutions and the mechanisms available to enforce them. They need to be empowered to demand justice as a right not as an act of charity. It is patently clear that the authorities will not protect the environment or tackle the development agenda unless there is a strong people’s movement to challenge the State and other role players over environmental and development issues and ethics.


(2010) submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Laws at the University of South Africa