African

The African System is the youngest among the three judicial or quasi-judicial regional human rights systems, and is operated under the auspices of the African Union.  Like the Inter-American System (and the European System, as originally designed), it is composed of two entities: a commission and a court.  Notably, the African System allows NGOs to present petitions.

AFRICAN COURT ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS

Seat: Arusha, Tanzania    Instrument: Protocol to the ACHPR     Operating Since: 2006

The Court’s development has been complicated and lengthy and, although its integration with the African Court of Justice (to form the African Court of Justice and Human Rights) is still pending, it decided its first case in December of 2009.  The Court was established by the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which has been ratified by 25 of the 53 African Union Member States and give the Court the power to emit advisory opinions and resolve contentious cases referred to it.  Notably, cases may be referred to the Court by: the Commission, States Parties (as respondent, petitioner, or on in the interests of a citizen), African intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, and individuals.  The eleven judges of the court are elected for renewable, six-year terms.  Its Interim Rules set out its operating procedures, while the protocol on the statute of the future African Court of Justice and Human Rights lay out that body’s operations.

AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS

Seat: Banjul, Gambia        Instrument: ACHPR       Operating Since: 1987

The Commission began operating in 1987, and has a broad promotion and protection mandate, in addition to its review of individual cases.  Its decisions are available in its annual Activity Reports and also listed here.  All 53 Member States of the African Union have ratified the ACHPR.  The Commission’s Rules of Procedure establish its composition and procedures.  The Commission accepts communications (complaints) from individuals, groups of individuals, NGOs, and States Parties.

THE AFRICAN INSTRUMENTS

The Commission and Court are charged with interpreting and applying a number of regional human rights instruments, which include:

AFRICAN RAPPORTEURS AND WORKING GROUPS

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has established the following rapporteurships and working groups as part of its role in the promotion and oversight of human rights conditions in the 53 Member States of the African Union:

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