Exploring the Impact of State Behaviour on the African Commission’s Autonomy

For more than three decades now, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) has been the leading regional treaty body responsible for supervising State compliance with and implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter). Operational since 1987, the African Commission has steadily grown into maturity. In the early years of its existence, it was a rather timid and overly cautious institution in its engagement and interaction with States. It was not only hesitant to adopt a liberal and progressive interpretation of the African Charter, but it also remained silent or dragged its feet in responding to and condemning human rights violations committed by states.1 This posture was understandably frustrating and disappointing for victims, human rights groups and scholars that reasonably expected stronger and bolder action. It follows that they were the most vocal critics of the African Commission in those initial years, with Makau Mutua, for instance, describing the African Commission as “a façade, a yoke that African leaders have put around our necks”

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Developed by Dr Mariam Kamunyu

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