Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law


The purpose of this paper is to argue the need for an African Court of Human Rights if African states truly wish to maintain an African human rights mechanism. In other words, for an effective African regional human rights protection and enforcement mechanism to exist, the African system must be made more effective and supplemented with a court of human rights. The proposal for an African Court of Human Rights will require an amendment of the Charter by a treaty or convention. Recent human rights violations include those that took place in Nigeria, in former Zaire under Mobutu Seseko, and the carnage and genocide in Rwanda.

This paper is divided into four sections. Section one offers a brief evaluation of the current system, with the aim of pointing out its inherent weaknesses and possible means to strengthen it. This necessarily involves an evaluation of the Commission and the effectiveness of its mandate as a remedy for human rights violations. Section two builds on the previous section to present arguments in favor of a court. Section three suggests a structure for the court in terms of composition, basic foundation, and its relationship with the Commission. Finally, section four focuses on how to empower the court in terms of jurisdiction, independence, enforcement of its decisions, and funding.

The author will draw inspiration from existing international and regional mechanisms/ as well as current initiatives in the African region. The author will comment on and make use of the Draft Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights already in place, considering it as a possible treaty or convention-based amendment to the African Charter.