Human rights and democratisation in Africa

Sheriff Kumba JobeAuthor: Sheriff Kumba Jobe
2014 Graduate, Faculty of Law, University of The Gambia

The globalisation of human rights and democratisation has gained significant momentum in the 21st Century. It has proved to be the linchpin of progressive and sustainable socio-economic and political development for other continental organisations such as European Union and Inter-American Organisation. It is unfortunate that the African Union (AU) has done little or nothing in the actualisation and application of these universal principles in its member states. There are plethora legal frameworks geared toward promoting and protecting human rights and democratisation in Africa. However, they have translated meaningless because their practical applications are neglected.

The establishment of the AU inter alia is anchored on the promotion and protection of human rights and democratisation in Africa. This is as a result of the inhuman and undemocratic experiences of the continent under the so-called colonial masters’ bad governance. In an attempt to correct the human rights catastrophes perpetrated by colonial institutions, the AU was created. Thus, the sole intent of the drafters of the Organisation’s legal framework and indeed the yearning and aspiration of the people of the continent was to create a continental institution to promote and protect human rights and democratisation which are essential for the development of Africa.

However, legally construing the AU Charter, it creates no legal binding obligation on state parties for promotion and protection of human rights and democratisation in Africa. Although, it requires member states to have due regard for human rights and democratisation as enshrined under international law; and also promulgated plethora continental laws aimed at mandating state parties to promote and protect these concepts.

Many academics, politicians and legal pundits both within and outside the continent continue to cry loud and frown at the way and manner in which the continent is governed. Africa under watchful eyes of the AU has experienced human rights turmoil of extreme proportion since independence: the 1994 Rwanda genocide, civil wars in Sierra Leon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Darfur, South Sudan, Central Africa Republic to name just a few.

It is irrefutable that almost all the conflicts in Africa are fuelled due to the blatant disregard and disrespect of human rights and democratisation. Commentators and advocates of human rights and democratisation in Africa have attracted the attentions of dynamic, articulate and the focused African young elite on the need to reengage the leadership in the promotion and protection of these desirable and universal principles. There is no country that can attain sustainable development without making these concepts as guiding principles; and no country can develop under the atmosphere of conflicts. It is thus a firm belief that, without due regard to human rights and democratisation the chronic conflicts the continent is married to, would be impossible to divorce.

Human rights and democratisation are life blood of states’ institutions and that, no state, institution and individual cannot do without. This is evident in national constitutions which are cited as supreme law of the land. And under the international parlance, they attained the status of jus cogen… meaning cannot be derogated. Therefore, human rights and democratisation are contemporarily implanted in human minds; and disrespect of them would inevitably invite conflict as seen not only in Africa but globally. This is because the principles are as important as the human life.

Human rights and democratisation are life blood of states’ institutions and that, no state, institution and individual cannot do without.

Therefore, the AU must reflect and redirect itself in the promotion and protection of these principles by compelling member states to adhere to them. The development of the continent both economically and politically cannot be feasible without the institutionalisation, domestication and application of human rights and democratisation. In the quest of attaining the socio-economic development of the continent, the leadership in Africa must endeavour to promote and protect these desirable human needs.

It is regrettable that the AU has forgotten that this is the only way out. As a result to this the AU was invited to the White House (US-African Summit) and was reminded of these principles that have worked well for United States of America (USA). The status of the USA under the global leadership today is as a result of the institutionalisation, domestication and application of human rights and democratisation in their governance. Therefore, it does not take African leaders to be invited to the White House to attain the development aspirations of the continent. What it takes is to emulate White House good practices (i.e. human rights and democratisation) in the day to day administration of the continent’s institutions.

The pursuit of individual interest in the AU is overwhelming. Mediocre leaders continue to militate against the application of human rights and democratisation. They see it as threat or future potential threat to their leadership; and thus continue to nurture, cherish and safeguard selfish interests to the detriment of the development of the continent.

Therefore, as far as these issues continue to present themselves; the AU deliberations, the search for peace, development and good governance will continue to be unachievable.

About the Author:
Sheriff Kumba Jobe is a 2014 Graduate of the Faculty of Law, University of The Gambia.

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One Comment on “Human rights and democratisation in Africa”

  1. […] Kumba Jobe, Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa, […]


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