Call for papers : African Charter for Human and Peoples’ Rights, 30 years after

AGI 30 years after the adoption of the African Charter for Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on 21 June 1981; 25 years after the ACHPR entered into force on 21 October 1986; and 10 years after the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU) came into operation on 26 May 2001.

The Verloren van Themaat Centre for Public Law Studies in the Department of Public, Constitutional and International Law College of Law University of South Africa.

The African University in the Service of Humanity is pleased to announce that it will be hosting an International Conference in celebration of the African Charter, under the title, ‘The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Protection of Human Rights in African Union Member States: Thirty/Twenty-Five/Ten Years on – Achievements, Challenges and Prospects in Pretoria, South Africa from 23rd – 25th September 2011.


The primary objective of the Conference is to provide a forum for robust retrospective and prospective debate on human rights in Africa since the adoption and entry into force of the African Charter for Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the African Union (AU) Constitutive Act. How these two instruments have contributed to the promotion and the protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa will be the main question addressed during the conference.

The Conference will critically revisit the conventional discourse on human rights in Africa and the African human rights system. It will examine the ACHPR, its significance, originality and shortcomings. Importantly, it will assess the contribution of the ACHPR and its enforcement mechanisms to the promotion of human rights in Africa, the progress, setbacks, challenges and prospects. It will at the same time reflect on the AU Constitutive Act and the various initiatives and instruments adopted by the AU better to protect human and peoples’ rights. It is expected that the Conference will help develop policy-based interventions aimed at improving human rights, which are inextricably linked to democracy, peace and development.

The Conference is expected to attract officials and experts from the AU, African sub-regional organisations and AU member states, law-makers, ministers, judges, members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, human rights scholars, lawyers, students and other activists.

The members of national human rights institutions and civil society organisations, United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) officials, human rights experts and students from other corners of the world, as well as representatives of different organisations interested in the promotion of human rights, democracy, constitutionalism, good governance, peace and development in Africa and in the improvement of the living conditions of the African people will also benefit from the interaction afforded by this opportunity.

In the light of the above, we are pleased to call for papers addressing, but not limited to, the following:

- Current human rights discourse in Africa and globally.
- The relationship between human rights, democracy, peace and development as challenges facing Africa and her people.
- What Africans can contribute or learn from others in discussing and promoting human rights?
- How Africa has fared in promoting human rights under the ACHPR and the AU Constitutive Act.
- The state of knowledge of the ACHPR and other African human rights instruments among African officials, judges, lawyers, African citizens, within African civil society organisations, in law-enforcement mechanisms such as the army and the police, at schools and at academic institutions.
- Social forces championing or opposing human rights in Africa.
- The achievements of the African Commission in enforcing the ACHPR; what are its landmark decisions and the challenges it faces in enforcing the Charter?
- How serious are the African Commission and national courts in promoting and protecting the peoples’ and socio-economic rights in the ACHPR? How have they approached the responsibility of states and non-state actors for violation of these rights? Is there any jurisprudence emerging in this regard?
- Why did it take so long to establish an African Court and what challenges must it overcome better to promote and protect human rights on the continent?
- What is the place of the ACHPR and other African human rights instruments in human rights adjudication by African domestic courts and to what extent have lawyers and civil society organisations contributed to promoting them?
- What can the African human rights system learn from its Inter-American and European counterparts, especially from their jurisprudence, founding instruments and enforcement mechanisms, in order better to promote and protect human rights in Africa?
- Should the ACHPR be amended further to address its shortcomings?
- What is the state of compliance of African states with the ACHPR and other African human rights instruments?

In addition to formal papers, we also welcome poster presentations related to the theme of the conference.

All abstracts should be directed to:

Prof AMB Mangu, Research Professor at the University of South Africa and Head of the VerLoren van Themaat Centre for Public Law Studies

The deadline for the submission of abstracts (300 words maximum) is 15 June 2011.
Authors of successful abstracts will be notified by the end of June 2011 and required to submit their full papers by 15 August 2011. These papers will be subject to peer evaluation before invitations to the conference will be issued. Publication of the papers presented is planned.

Authors of selected papers will be financially supported and exempted from paying the conference fee. In as many cases as possible their travel and accommodation costs will be borne in all or in part by the organisers. Other participants will please make their own travel and accommodation arrangements.

The Conference fee is ZAR 1000 (covering Conference files, coffee and lunch breaks) for non-students, and only ZAR 300 for students. It will be payable upon registration.

The Conference will be held in English. However, papers may also be presented in French. Translation will be provided.

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