The African Human Rights protection system
Until the 1970s, the Organization of African Unity(OAU) did not have any systems to deal with charges of human rights violations within member states, although there had been calls for the establishment of such a human rights system as early as 1961. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights was adopted by the OAU in 1981 and came into force in 1986. In 1987, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights was established and held its first session in Addis Ababa. In the late 1970s human rights became a prominent issue in international politics partly because the US President Jimmy Carter gave the central role to human rights in foreign policy. Massive human rights violations by the regimes of Idi Amin in Uganda, Macias Nguema in Equatorial Guinea, and Jean-Bedel Bokassa in Central African Empire also contributed to the final decision of African leaders to move towards creating a human rights protection system for the continent. The human rights protection mechanism in Africa has several limitations and shortcomings such as claw back clauses in the African Character and the African Commission’s subordination to the OAU Assembly of Heads of State and Government. The Protocol on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights was adopted at the OAU summit in 1998. The African Court is expected to contribute to the protection and promotion of human rights in Africa.
This publication maps out all the measures taken by the Organization of African Unity to guarantee human rights in Africa. We also discuss the success and implementation of these measures. Furthermore, we have researched relevant case law and the implementation in domestic legislation.