African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, also known as the Banjul Charter, is an international human rights instrument adopted by the member states of the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) in 1981. It is designed to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Africa.

Scope and principles: The African Charter recognises a wide range of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. It also emphasises the collective rights of peoples, including the right to self-determination, development, and the preservation of cultural heritage. The Charter upholds the principles of equality, non-discrimination, and non-interference in the internal affairs of member states.

Individual and group rights: The Charter grants individuals and groups the right to life, integrity, liberty, fair trial, and equal protection before the law. It also guarantees freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, as well as political participation and access to justice.

Economic, social, and cultural rights: The African Charter recognises the right to work, fair remuneration, social security, education, health, and participation in cultural life. It emphasises the importance of sustainable development and the equitable distribution of resources.

State obligations: The African Charter imposes obligations on state parties to respect, protect, and fulfil the rights enshrined in the Charter. States are required to adopt legislative and other measures to ensure the enjoyment of rights, establish institutions to promote and protect human rights, and provide remedies for violations.

African commission on human and peoples' rights: The African Charter established the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights as the principal body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Charter. The Commission receives and considers individual and state communications alleging human rights violations, conducts country visits, issues reports, and provides recommendations to member states.

Ratification and enforcement: Member states that have ratified the African Charter are legally bound to comply with its provisions. The Charter does not provide for a centralised enforcement mechanism like a regional court, but the African Commission plays a crucial role in promoting compliance and providing guidance on human rights issues.

The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights has contributed significantly to the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. It has served as a framework for member states to develop domestic legislation, establish human rights institutions, and engage in dialogue on human rights issues. The Charter reflects the commitment of African countries to upholding human rights and provides a regional context for the protection and advancement of human rights in Africa.
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