Johannesburg, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI)
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) is a section 21 not-for-profit organisation providing professional and dedicated socio-economic rights, assistance to individuals, communities and social movements.
SERI was established in January 2010 and is registered by the Law Society of the Northern Provinces as a Law Clinic, and accredited by the Johannesburg Bar Council as an approved public interest law centre. SERI conducts applied legal research and public interest litigation, provides advocacy support, facilitates civil society mobilisation and coordination, and conducts popular education and training.
Their thematic areas are: housing and evictions; access to basic services (water, sanitation, electricity); and political space.
SERI has the following aims:
- To advance the currency of human rights and particularly socio-economic rights in South Africa.
- To promote the fulfilment of socio-economic rights by vulnerable communities in South Africa.
- To assist poor and marginalised groups to realise an adequate standard of living.
- To contribute to public governance through empowering local communities to understand their rights, government processes and to effectively engage in such processes, thereby holding government accountable.
SERI’s areas of geographical focus are Gauteng and Durban. There are several reasons for this. First, the greatest need – defined in terms of where the most people are conglomerated, compared with the range and efficacy of human rights assistance available to them – is in Gauteng and Durban. Second, although SERI aims to contribute to the betterment of rural conditions through overall advances in legislation and policy, SERI’s work focuses on urban areas because this is where the state has the most capacity to respond to engagement, and where civil society has the most capacity to mount effective engagement.
SERI hopes that the 2015 Africities Summit will provide an opportunity for civil society groups to strengthen their position in advocating for urban developmental plans to become inclusive of marginalised groups. African cities as “world class” should not come at the cost of excluding poor and informal livelihoods.