n Malawi Law Journal - Is democracy now an issue in Africa? An evaluation of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance




The question of democracy has been a focal point of the discourse on human rights in Africa for decades. It is an issue which has now assumed a central position in regional discourse within the African Union as reflected in the adoption of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (Charter) in January 2007. This article critically evaluates the substantive and implementation provisions of the Charter. It argues that the Charter is a landmark development principally because it recognises the right to democratic governance in Africa, which is critical to the development of the continent. However, it also demonstrates that the Charter falls short of expectations in certain areas. For example, its provisions on democratisation are not particularly strong compared to those contained in the declarations and resolutions of the African Union on the subject, thereby giving the impression that African leaders developed cold feet when faced with the prospect of a binding regional treaty on issues of democratisation, good governance and the rule of law. In spite of its weaknesses, the Charter has a great potential to entrench democracy in Africa if African leaders can give it the political support it deserves.


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