n African Human Rights Law Journal - The advisory jurisdiction of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights

Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



The entry into force of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the establishment of the African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights on 25 January 2005 came as a huge achievement for the protection of human rights in Africa. The creation of an institution that would deliver binding decisions on human rights issues has evaded the African system since the advent of the African Charter. This article looks critically at the provision of the African Court Protocol, paying particular attention on the Court's competence to give advisory opinions. This is in the light of the fact that access to the Court is limited in that individuals and NGOs do not have direct access thereto. This article argues that individuals and NGOs can have access to the Court via seeking advisory opinions, as the provision dealing with this aspect is broadly worded. It is also observed that in exercising its advisory opinion powers, the Court can be able to address a wide range of human rights issues. In this article, three areas of the Court's advisory competence is looked into: Firstly, who can request an advisory opinion; secondly, what forms the subject matter of a request for an advisory opinion; and thirdly, what is the effect of an advisory opinion on the compatibility of domestic laws with international law. This article contends that due to the limited nature of access to the Court, the Court should adopt a very flexible approach in exercising its powers to enable more accessibility, because in any event the complaints procedure under the African Commission is virtually open to anybody.

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