Malawi secures funding of US$ 2 million from the Governments of Iceland and Norway to bolster human rights for vulnerable populations in the country

February 1, 2024

The advancement of human rights plays a pivotal role in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. While Malawi has achieved notable advancements in the realm of human rights, persistent challenges continue, including gender inequality, detrimental traditional practices, and the discrimination or endangerment of vulnerable groups. These factors continue to pose obstacles to further progress.

To enhance human rights mechanisms and advocate for the protection of citizens' rights in the country, the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) is this week in Lilongwe formally entering into a new three-year project partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Malawi.

The project, titled 'Strengthening Human Rights for Vulnerable Populations in Malawi,' is made possible through financial support from the Governments of Iceland and Norway, who have been steadfast partners, contributing to the ongoing efforts to bolster the rule of law and improve access to justice for vulnerable groups in Malawi.

Over the course of three years, the project will enhance the capacity of key institutions responsible for safeguarding human rights, both at the local and national levels. Simultaneously, it aims to establish a conducive environment that empowers vulnerable groups to effectively exercise their rights.

The project interventions are integral to the broader development agenda aimed at assisting Malawi to ensure full compliance with international treaty obligations, all the while addressing the challenges posed by child marriages.

Whilst focusing on both, duty bearers and rights of holders, the project will concentrate on specific vulnerable groups, which includes women, children, youth, prisoners, indigent individuals, persons with albinism, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the LGBTQ+ community especially in remote areas.

Under this project, UNDP will collaborate closely with government partners, including the Ministry of Justice, Malawi Human Rights Commission, Malawi Police Service, Office of the Ombudsman, traditional authorities, Judiciary, Malawi Law Society and the Ministry of Gender. 

Other activities that the project will undertake include:

  • Engagement with traditional leaders to enhance community-level change and understanding and empowerment of women and girls.

  • Development of a digitalized system for monitoring the implementation of human rights obligations under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations within the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, and MHRC.

  • Supporting the legal framework for the Human Rights Act to help ensure mechanisms for enforcement of findings and recommendations in the promotion of human rights. 

  • Partnering with the Malawi Law Society to develop and enact a Judicial Service Act that will ensure the independence of the judiciary, accountability of judges and ensure adherence to their mandate to protect human rights. 

  • Enhancing the institutional capacity of human rights and oversight institutions in complaints management by deploying digital tools in districts and training of personnel to investigate and handle such complaints.

  • Supporting MHRC to conduct inspection of prisons and advocacy for the implementation of OPCAT to ensure prisoner rights, including the implementation of Mandela Rules.

Attendance to the official signing of the project includes Director General, Directorate for International Cooperation, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Iceland – Her Excellency Elin R. Sigurdardottir, Head of Mission of the Embassy of Iceland - Her Excellency Inga Dóra Pétursdóttir, Ambassador of Norway – Her Excellency Ingrid Marie Mikelsen, Executive Secretary of the Human Rights Commission - Ms. Habiba Osman and UNDP Resident Representative for Malawi - Ms. Fenella Frost.

For media queries 

MHRC Communications Focal Point (Gender and Women's Rights Officer), Patricia Kavinya 

UNDP Communications and Resource Mobilization Analyst, Madalitso Mbendera – 

About UNDP 

UNDP is the UN's global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience, and resources to help people build better lives. The UNDP works in over 170 countries and territories, helping to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities, and build resilience to crises and shocks.  Globally UNDP remains the largest service provider in the UN system on climate change adaptation and since 2002 has successfully completed 151 adaptation projects across 74 countries, including 41 Least Developed Countries. 

To learn more about UNDP’s work, please visit

About MHRC

The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) is a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) for Malawi established by the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi. Its composition, specific powers, functions and duties, and operational modalities are further provided for in the Human Rights Commission Act (HRCA) which assigns various duties and responsibilities to the Commission which among others include (i) to act as a source of human rights information for the government and the people of Malawi (ii) to assist in educating the public on, and promoting awareness and respect for human rights; (iii) research in human rights and (iii) promote more particularly the human rights of vulnerable groups, in this case rights of older persons.

To learn more about MHRC’s work, please visit