n Law, Democracy & Development - Human rights litigation using international human rights law : the IHRDA experience

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 1028-1053
  • E-ISSN: 2077-4907



Africa is a continent with its own unique peculiarities and a complex cycle of problems: poverty, hunger and malnutrition; deeply rooted gender inequalities and inequities; discrimination based on ethnic differences; marginalisation of minorities; diseases; persistent civil strife; abuse of state power and resources as shown by arbitrary detentions, extra-judicial executions, and rampant corruption; foreign exploitation of resources; as well as impunity and many other forms of ills that frustrate meaningful enjoyment of human rights by all. Confronting these ills requires a reinforcement of multiple strategies and efforts by various stakeholders including states and civil society.

The emergence of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) and a proliferation of kindred instruments establishing bodies with the mandate to handle communications alleging violations of human rights that have not been effectively redressed by national jurisdictions, stands as a set of concrete steps showing a semblance of commitment by states towards respect and promotion of human rights on the continent. In the main, the existence of these bodies with flexible practices and procedures for handling complaints provides an excellent opportunity for litigation to be used for the vindication of rights where domestic systems either fail, or are reluctant to remedy violations. To date, litigation before supra-national bodies is spearheaded by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) acting on behalf of individual victims or indeterminate numbers of victims.

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