The proposal to collapse several Chapter 9 institutions, also referred to as Institutions Supporting Democracy (ISDs), was first made in 2007.

The Asmal Commission recommended the establishment of a supra-national body comprising the National Youth Development Agency; the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities; the Commission for Gender Equality; the Pan South African Language Board and the South African Human Rights Commission. However, there was an almost 10-year hiatus before the call for submissions was made, on 25 May 2017, to assess the findings of the Asmal Report.

The submission of the CUD provides a detailed outline and recommendations to Parliament:

In summary, the motivation for the creation of a Single Human Rights Body to replace the ISDs under review, has not been sufficiently motivated in the Asmal Report to justify far-reaching constitutional changes, which risk overturning in word, spirit and value the Constitution.

The continued necessity for dedicated institutions to promote gender equality; human rights; cultural, religious and linguistic rights and the rights and development of children and young people remains critically important in South Africa 23 years into democracy. South Africa is still a long way from being close to the ideal of an open, democratic and robust society that can boast equality in real and lived terms. Shadows of the past impede full realisation of democratic and constitutional dividends, and institutions dedicated to addressing the most telling deficiencies in our society must not be diminished by subsuming these into a single entity.

By Ms Zohra Dawood: Director, Centre for Unity in Diversity 

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