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Human Rights Articles


Article 1, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The rights of all people worldwide are protected by three documents created by the United Nations: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,(UDHR)the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights(ICESCR)and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR)Together, these three documents form the International Bill of Human Rights. Malawi has signed and ratified all three documents, which means that it is legally bound by the provisions of the two Covenants. Other convents to which Malawi is a signatory are the ones aimed at promoting the rights of women, The International Covenant on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women(CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child(CRC) Because Africa has specific issues and challenges, the African Union has created its own document, the African Charter on Human and People's Rights(also known as the Banjul Charter). The charter functions similarly to an international treaty, and the African Union has set up the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights to uphold its provisions.

International law is complicated and very difficult to enforce, so it is important for countries to provide for human rights in their own laws. The Constitution of Malawi is the highest law in the country; it governs the way in which all other laws are made, and it prevails if there is a disagreement between it and another legal instrument. Certain parts of the constitution can only be changed by referendum- which means the people get a chance to vote. This is an important protection against excessive or irresponsible use of government power. Chapter five of the Constitution details your constitutional rights. There are some inconsistencies between the international laws on human rights and the Constitution. Some of these are rights that have been left out of the constitution because Malawi does not yet have the resources to achieve them. Others are limitations and reservations placed on your constitutional rights in the interests of making it easier to govern. These are limitations that the Malawian government has decided to impose, and in some case, restrict the ability of Malawians to exercise their human rights. Human rights law in Malawi is further complicated by customary law, which is given status by the Constitution. Customary law is the body of law created by cultural habit and tradition, and is often unwritten; Organizations like the Rights Institute for Social Empowerment-RISE work to encourage governments to bring their laws into line with the International Bill of Human Rights for the betterment of all people in Malawi.

Human Rights Made Easy

"The rights of every person are diminished when the rights of one person are threatened." -John F. Kennedy

"It is undeniable that every human being is entitled to living space, daily bread, and the protection of the law as a common birthright; these are fundamentals and should not be handed out as an act of charity." -Alfred Delp, S.J.

On this page, more information about your rights from the UN Declaration, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, about all different types of rights: right to education, right to life, right to health, right to protection from inhuman treatment. Learn more here!

There are a number of Malawian laws based on THE CONSTITUTION (Malawian Constitution ) and international laws that protect the human rights of all people in Malawi. But what does that mean? Human rights are important. Basically, no matter where people come from, no matter their age, gender identity, race, religion or sexuality, they UNIVERSAL, INALIENABLE HUMAN RIGHTS.READ ONLY These are some of the most important human rights for YOU, as students and children from the UN Convention on Human Rights:

Article 3 - Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person No one should be killed, for any reason. Also, everyone has the right to be free and to be safe from harm.

Article 4 - No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. Nobody has the right to treat you as his or her slave and you should not make anyone your slave. Therefore, a person can never be someone else's property.

Article 5 - No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. No one is allowed to torture or to hurt someone badly, not even as a punishment. This means at school, your teachers are not allowed to viciously or excessively use the cane against you.

Article 7 - All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

This article means that the law is the same for everyone. It should be applied in the same way to all. If someone is not treated equally, he or she should be protected by the law.

Article 16

  1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

  2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses

  3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

  4. All men and women 18 and over have the right to be married AND divorced. But, you cannot be FORCED to be married - you should only be married if that is what you want.


Article 18 -Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance

Everyone has the right to choose your religion [or philosophy]. Everyone also has the right to profess your religion freely, to change it, and to practise it either on your own or with other people.

Article 19 - Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Everyone has the right to make up their own mind, to think what they like, to say what they think, and to share ideas with other people - anywhere in the world.

Article 25:

  1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, and housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

  2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Everyone has the right to a good life. Therefore, you have the right to have whatever you need so that you and your family: do not fall ill or go hungry; have clothes and a house; and are helped if you are out of work for any reason you cannot help. Mothers and their children are entitled to special care. All children have the same rights to be protected, whether or not their mother was married when they were born.

Article 26


  1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Everyone has the right to go to school and everyone should go to school. Primary schooling should be free. You should be able to learn a profession or continue your studies as far as you wish. Everyone has the right to education and education is FREE in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education is/should be COMPULSORY. At school, you should be able to develop all your talents and you should be taught to get on with others, whatever their race, religion or the country they come from. Your parents have the right to choose how and what you will be taught at school.