n African Human Rights Law Journal - Intervention pursuant to article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union without United Nations Security Council authorisation

Volume 15, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU) establishes the right of the Union to intervene in a member state to prevent grave violations of human rights. It does not state whether the AU should request prior authorisation from the United Nations (UN) Security Council, leading to many interpretations. Many articles were written on this issue at a time when the AU and the Security Council were not in confrontation. However, the situation has changed since the controversy over the arrest of President Al Bashir of Sudan, and the intervention by NATO in Libya in 2011. The AU's right of intervention may be the next controversy. This article examines the question whether the AU could implement military intervention in a member state without authorisation by the Security Council. The article initially states that, in principle, the AU needs authorisation in accordance with article 53 of the Charter of the UN. After further analysis, the article recognises that, under certain circumstances, the AU could implement such intervention without prior authorisation by the Council. The article analyses the legality and legitimacy of such action.

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