Malawi is a signatory to some major international treaties promoting human rights and rule of law. However, most international conventions need national ratification through Parliament and submission of State party reports on the ratified treaties remains limited posing accountability challenges. In events where State party reports have been submitted, there is limited follow up on recommendations made by UN treaty bodies.
Revisions of key laws to align with international conventions are, in a number of instances, overdue. Non-ratification of UN conventions on rights is an important issue for Malawi in consolidation of democratic governance. This could be a factor in the negative trends seen on human rights since 2009 elections. Maintaining political will to address this issue will be important as political and civil rights go together.
Malawian laws specifically provide for equal rights for women, forbid discrimination based on language or culture, race, disability, or social status and provide for equality and recognition before the law for every citizen. However, the capacity of government institutions to ensure equal rights for all citizens is limited. Domestic violence is common, though women seldom discuss the issue openly, and victims rarely seek legal recourse.
Levels of stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV infection and towards marginalised populations undermine efforts for a more effective national response to HIV. Legal experts and human rights workers attribute victims’ reluctance to report their abusers to lack of awareness of legal rights and fear of retribution and ostracism. Civic education and information are inadequate, together with general efforts to improve literacy and numeracy rates. For more information on Human Rights and the Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) see: