The role of the South African Human Rights Commission in ensuring state accountability to address poverty
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Since its inception at the dawn of South Africa's new democracy the South African Human Rights Commission has focused much of its efforts in securing the human rights of the country's poor and marginalised citizens. As part of its work, the Commission has engaged with government in order to ensure that the necessary priority is afforded to the realisation of the Constitution's Bill of Rights, and that government is held accountable to the people of South Africa for their obligations under the Constitution. As will be discussed in this chapter, it often is those most marginalised by society, such as those living in poverty, who face structural and other barriers to the realisation of their human rights and who most require a responsive government to address such issues. This chapter therefore briefly examines the relationship between human rights and poverty in South Africa, before providing an account of the Commission's work on poverty alleviation, and ensuring state accountability to the poor. While the important mandate of the SAHRC must be acknowledged, the Commission is also faced by limitations, such as the location of its offices in only the main metro cities, significantly impacting its reach and effectiveness.