SERI was established as a non-profit company in 2009. It is a South African human rights organisation which provides professional assistance to individuals, communities and social movements seeking to protect and advance their socio-economic rights. These are the rights to housing, water, fair labour practices, electricity, sanitation, a clean and healthy environment, education and various children’s rights, which are grounded in South Africa’s Constitution. SERI also seeks to protect the sites within which people campaign for the protection and advancement of these rights. We work to protect the political spaces in which socio-economic rights activists, social movements, community-based organisations, and trade unions are able to express themselves freely, assemble and protest without unjustified state interference, and be free from arbitrary arrest and detention.
SERI’s conviction is that it is the people who are on the receiving end of poverty and inequality who are best placed to devise and implement strategies to challenge them. SERI therefore seeks to protect the spaces in which ordinary men and women, communities and social movements can set and implement their own agendas for change.
SERI is currently active in seven of South Africa’s nine provinces, but has no particular geographical focus. Much of our work is concentrated in South Africa’s major cities, but we also work in the rural Eastern Cape (supporting the families of the victims of the Marikana massacre), and in the rural North West Province and KwaZulu-Natal (researching, advocating and litigating for land tenure rights).
SERI organises its work under three themes –
For more information on SERI's work over the years, take a look at our newsletters published since 2010. Our Annual Reports are also available online:
- Annual Review (January 2021 - December 2021)
- Eighteen Month Review (July 2019 - December 2020).
- Annual Review (July 2018 - June 2019)
- Annual Review (July 2017 - June 2018)
- Annual Review (July 2016 to June 2017)
- Annual Review (July 2015 to June 2016)
- Biennial Review (July 2013 to June 2015)
- Eighteen Month Review (February 2012 to July 2013)
- 2011 Annual Report (April 2011 to May 2012)
- 2010 Annual Report (February 2010 to March 2011)
SERI has the following aims and objectives:
- 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.
- To advance the currency of human rights, and particularly socio-economic rights, in South Africa through contributing to and influencing socio-economic rights-related debate and practice.
- To ensure pro-poor legal and policy frameworks and to develop socio-economic rights jurisprudence through strategic advocacy and litigation.
- To promote the fulfilment of socio-economic rights and an adequate standard of living for vulnerable groups in South Africa through providing dedicated, expert socio-economic rights assistance to poor communities, social movements and women’s and migrant groups.
- To advance public governance through empowering local communities to understand their rights, government processes and to effectively engage in such processes, thereby holding government accountable particularly at the local level, where delivery and local democracy are affected.
- To contribute to the networking and coordination of rights-based civil society initiatives and campaigns in relation to access to housing, water, electricity and sanitation, with a particular focus on advancing activism around housing and basic services in informal settlements.