Bringing the African human rights system into classrooms: Some lessons drawn from a lecture delivered at the Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs (DR Congo)Posted: 4 February, 2019
Author: Dr Kihangi Bindu Kennedy
Professor of international law at the Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs
Author: Trésor Makunya
Doctoral candidate & Academic Associate, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
Ever since the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (1963), and later, the African Union (2002), their efforts to maintain peace and stability, uphold the constitutional order and ensure the respect and the promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have yielded unsatisfactory outcomes. Although major reasons for such a debacle have been underscored or echoed by prominent scholarship, bringing these debates into law classrooms when training ‘society-conscious lawyers’ is one of the ways to contribute to the ongoing debate over the relevance of the African Union (AU) to Africans. In this article, we highlights some lessons learnt from the discussions that followed a lecture we delivered at the Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs (ULPGL-Goma) on Wednesday 16 January 2019 to undergraduate law students. The lecture provided theoretical knowledge, analytical and practical skills on the AU and its human rights system which tend to be overlooked, the focus usually placed on the United Nations (UN) and the European human rights systems.
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South Africa’s intention to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: Time to seriously consider an African alternative?Posted: 28 October, 2016
Author: Rodger Owiso
LLB – Nairobi, PGD Law – KSL
While the decision by South Africa to commence the formal process of withdrawing from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is shocking, honest observers will admit it was not entirely unforeseen. African countries through the African Union (AU) have long voiced misgivings about the International Criminal Court (ICC) and it was just a matter of time before the usually slow-moving AU clock started ticking. The AU had earlier this year urged its members to consider withdrawing from the Rome Statute. This was triggered by the refusal by the United Nations Security Council and the ICC to accede to the AU’s requests for suspension or termination of the cases against Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.
While South Africa’s decision should be condemned, nothing much is likely to come of such condemnation. Treaties are a product of state consent and it follows that withdrawal is equally a unilateral act of the state. Even if an argument could be advanced against such unilateralism, the process is still a political one which rests almost entirely with the political class, at least in imperfect democracies. South Africa’s move is likely to embolden other African countries to commence similar processes. South Africa is Africa’s biggest economy and the AU’s largest member contributor. It is also arguably one of Africa’s better-off imperfect democracies. For these reasons, it is often the case in continental affairs that other African countries hold on to their cards until South Africa plays after which they emerge from their cocoons and play theirs in more or less similar fashion. With the possible exception of ‘righteous’ Botswana and perhaps Mauritius that considers itself African only when the situation suits it, the possibility that other African countries will follow South Africa’s lead on the ICC cannot be ruled out. In light of such possibility, how then does Africa assure its citizens that the fight against impunity as is entrenched in its founding instrument is still top of its agenda, if at all it ever was?
Rethinking the North-South divide in international criminal justice: Reflections from an African viewpointPosted: 25 October, 2016
Author: Francis Dusabe
‘Whatever you do for me but without me, you do against me’– Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948
More than ever before, Africa is at both sides of the coin; it is the subject of international criminal law because African states have steadfastly stood for the creation of the International Criminal Court and an object of international criminal law because of the unfortunate participation of Africans in atrocities that ravages their continent.
Unlike what many think, Africa has a lot to offer in the development of international criminal law, be it at domestic, regional and international level. Domestically, Africa leads other continents in the nationalisation of international criminal law either through domestication of the Rome Statute or the incorporation of main principles of international criminal law as enshrined in major conventions and treaties in national law.
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.