The Southern African community is made up of states that are seized by a plethora of problems in the areas of democratic governance as well as the rule of law. This is manifested in fraudulent and violent elections, perennial election disputation, resistance to peaceful transfer of power from one government to another, lack of independence of judicial institutions and independent commissions, endemic corruption, insecurity and chronic conflict, a growing threat of international terrorism, pervasive violations of fundamental rights and freedoms and persistent attacks on media freedom. These governance crises are also evidenced by a growing trend across Southern Africa to undermine independent institutions charged with checking political power the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. In addition, the countries have challenges in managing diversity and although many have good constitutions and laws, constitutionalism is not a universal practice and the rule of law is not always adhered to. The Citizens in Action Southern Africa aims to support efforts that ensure that the people of Southern Africa benefit from a more inclusive, equitable and accountable governance, access to justice, human rights and the rule of law.
The program aims to achieve the following specific objectives
- Promotion and protection of civic spaces and democratic institutions in southern African countries.
- Promotion of tolerance, pluralism and peaceful co-existence in southern African countries.
- Advancing accountability for human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law by states and armed groups.
- Ensuring adherence by security intelligence agencies to international human rights law and domestic human rights norms.
- To advocate and lobby for citizens driven constitutional reforms
- Economic Justice evidenced by Women and Girls Economic Empowerment.
- Creation of a just, resilient and sustainable socio-economic agenda which gives hope and economic securing for women and girls their diversity created.
Key Priority Areas
1.1 Accountability for Human Rights Violations
The Citizens in Action Southern Africa implements initiatives that respond to situations of ongoing or past gross violations of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law. CIASA advocates for the broader pursuit of justice for human rights violations that have been committed in conflict settings in the southern African communities and the CIASA advances the reparations for the victims of these crimes.
1.2 Human Rights Defenders
The Citizens in Action Southern Africa contributes to the safeguarding of the space for civil society advances human rights work and defend the values and ideals of an open society. It seeks to ensure that HRDs and civil society in Southern African countries have the capacity to defend themselves from emerging threats and are able to mitigate harm when threats arise.
1.3 Security Sector Governance
CIASA seeks to enhance accountability in the security sector in Southern African countries. The approach is founded on the belief that accountable security governance is only possible if security sector reforms focus on both on security and rights with a strong emphasis on human security.
1.4 Migration Governance in Southern Africa
Noting the rise of Xenophobia in Southern Africa CIASA seeks the adoption of progressive policies by the states in the Southern African Community, with the end goal being easier movement for African citizens travelling in Africa, adoption of progressive laws on the right of residence and the pursuit of safe borders in the region.
CIASA contributes towards a Southern Africa that enjoys free, fair, transparent and inclusive elections and quality political participation. This is done through efforts towards electoral accountability processes, building citizen solidarity for demanding credible electoral outcomes, and advocating for raising the standards of legitimacy in electoral processes in the region.
1.6 Right to Information and Freedom of Expression
CIASA focuses on efforts that promote citizens’ right to information and freedom of expression through support to enactment and/or implementation of laws; building a critical mass of journalists pushing for media freedom, protecting alternative spaces and sites for free expression in traditional and new media; and the promotion of independent journalism and knowledge-generation.
Through this pillar, CIASA seeks to foster a culture of rule of law and respect for and implementation of the Constitution and the rights therein across all the Southern African countries. The organisation recognise the need to increase civil society advocacy for constitution-driven reforms. It is also key for the CIASA to facilitate interventions aimed at increasing citizen awareness of and demand for constitution-driven reform; at the same time strengthening local institutions’ capacity to advance the implementation of the Constitution as it aid in ensuring realisation and enjoyment of rights by marginalised women and girls.
1.8 Fiscal Transparency and Anti-Corruption
CIASA focuses on the building of a broad and pluralistic movement of citizens, civil society, media, academia, professionals, private sector and government agencies to demand accountability for corruption and wasteful management of public resources.
1.9 Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction (DPRR)
Different communities in Southern Africa have had different hazards in recent years, vulnerabilities and capacities depending on their context. Determining actual risk is a complex matter requiring an understanding of local culture, social and spiritual norms and perceptions, history, education and personality. CIASA defines resilience as the capacity of a system, community or society potentially exposed to hazards to adapt, by changing or resisting reaching and maintaining acceptable levels of functioning and structure. CIASA defines resilience as the capacity of a community to grow through disasters. It’s determined in part by the degree to which the social system is capable of organizing itself to increase its capacity for learning from past disasters for better future protection and to improve risk reduction measures. The practice of disaster risk reduction will require a number of the following activities to build community resilience. Reduce vulnerabilities conditions determined by physical, social, economic and environmental factors or processes that increase the susceptibility of a community. Mitigate the impact of natural and man-made situations that have the potential to adversely impact the lives and livelihoods of communities.
Develop and enhance capacities in individuals, communities and institutions that can be used productively to reduce risk and build up resilience. The greater the capacity of a community and its people and institutions, the more resilient to risk they become. CIASA believes that it is important to carry out development practice in a way that builds long term resilience and reduces the risk of disasters. Building long term resilience requires an integrated approach to strengthening livelihood assets and strategies that addresses the underlying causes of disasters. CIASA will use the Early Warning Early Response (EWER) mechanisms to act proactively in mitigating the impacts of natural disasters and emergencies across all the economic spectrum.