Project 28 was a rights-based project that focuses on promoting the realisation of children’s socio-economic rights in South Africa. The project aimed to seek clarity on the meaning of children’s socio-economic rights, particularly regarding the nature and extent of the government’s obligations to children.

The meaning of children's socio-economic rights, which appear in Section 28 of the Bill of Rights, has become a hot topic for debate and discussion in South Africa. Child rights advocactes interpret their inclusion in the Constitution − separate to everyone else's socio-economic rights − to mean that all children are entitled to a basic package of benefits and services, and that these should be prioritised by the government. Such a package includes basic health care services, basic nutrition, shelter and social services. Section 29 in the Constitution also guarantees every child the right to basic education.

Project 28 adopted three methods to further this debate and ultimately to promote an approach that prioritises children:

1.  Research and writing

The project since 2004 has been collating reviews of all existing literature on children's socio-economic rights from national and international law. This has enabled the production of quality rights analysis papers and products to promote an understanding of the rights in Section 28, and the related obligations on society, and specifically on government. An example of such products is the eight conference papers presented by the Institute at the 2005 Fourth World Congress on Family Law and Children's Rights. Project 28staff were instrumental in supporting staff from various projects to write these. The papers (linked below) provided analyses of service delivery to children from a rights perspective.

2.  Training
Child rights training is much in demand from government and civil society. Project staff are in a unique position to provide practical and useful training that combines legal theory on human rights with an understanding of South Africa's system of governance, and the challenges facing service providers as well as children and their caregivers. Examples of training to date are:

  • Training on child rights and child law for health professionals.
  • Assistance to the European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA) and UNICEF to train members of various Southern African Development Community parliaments.
  • Child rights training for health practitioners enrolled in the University of Cape Town's Child Health M.Phil long-distance learning course, offered by the Child Health Unit in the School of Child and Adolescent Health.
  • Child Rights in Context training for fourth-year medical students.
  • Child rights training for Masters in Law (LLM) students at the University of Pretoria.

3.  Public interest litigation
The project also promotes the development of jurisprudence on children's socio-economic rights. Related activities have focused on:

  • encouraging networking amongst public interest lawyers and children's sector organisations;
  • initiating precedent-setting litigation; and
  • supporting litigation with quantitative and qualitative evidence.

Current project team: Paula Proudlock, Katharine Hall, Lucy Jamieson, Lori Lake, Lizette Berry.

Further reading

South Africa’s progress in realising children’s rights: A law review
Proudlock P (ed) 2014
Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town & Save the Children South Africa.   Zero draft of a General Comment on Article 24 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child Proudlock P, Luchesi T & Dick 2011 Consultancy for World Vision International, Save the Children Geneva, United Nations Children’s Fund, and the World Health Organisation.   Children’s Institute amicus curiae affidavit in Sithasolwazi Stemele and Minister for Social Development, case no. 14/1/4/-206/10, South Gauteng High Court Proudlock P, Hall K, Meintjes H & Jamieson L 2011   The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: Maintaining its value in international and South African Child Law
Mahery P 2009
In: Boezaart T (ed) Child Law in South Africa. Claremont: Juta.   Children’s socio-economic rights
Proudlock P 2009
In: Boezaart T (ed) Child Law in South Africa. Claremont: Juta.   Children’s Institute’s answering affidavit to first to third respondents’ application for a postponement in Ncamile and the Children’s Institute vs the Minister of Social Development and Others Case No. 227/2008
Proudlock P 2008
29 April 2008, High Court of South Africa (Eastern Cape Division).
Rights in brief: Defining children’s constitutional right to social services
Dutschke M 2007
Defining children's constitutional right to social services
Dutschke M 2006 A Project 28 Working Paper, July 2006

Rights in brief: Children's right to survival and maximum development
Dutschke M & Abrahams K 2006

Child rights at the core: A commentary on the use of international law in South African court cases on children's socio-economic rights
Rosa S & Dutschke M 2006
A Project 28 working paper, May 2006

Oversight and legislative tools for Parliament to facilitate and monitor the realisation of children's rights
Proudlock P 2005
Developed for AWEPA and UNICEF training of Members of Parliament of various Southern African Development Community countries, June 2005.

Children's rights to social services
Dutschke M 2005
In: Child Rights in Focus, issue number 3, June 2005

Children's socio-economic rights in focus at international congress
Proudlock P 2005
In: Child Rights in Focus, issue number 3, June 2005

Using international law to realise children's socio-economic rights in South Africa
Rosa S 2005
In: Child Rights in Focus, issue no. 3, June 2005