An immanent critique of the African regional human rights system: Theory, practice and reforms

Uwazuruike, Allwell Raphael orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3746-9254 (2017) An immanent critique of the African regional human rights system: Theory, practice and reforms. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis is an immanent critique of the African human rights system. It, therefore, examines the practice of human rights as set by the African people as opposed to purely external transcendental forms of critique. This is carried out by studying the theory of the African regional human rights system as presented in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights 1986, and then evaluating the practice to determine its consistency with the theory of rights contained in the Charter. Evaluation of the practice is achieved through necessary references to State Reports, Concluding Observations, NGO statements and rapporteur reports. Further assessments on the consistency between the theory and practice of such rights take into consideration the practicality of the normative standards as well as the challenges of implementation. As an immanent critique, the research evaluates identified discrepancies and tensions between theory and practice with the aim of ideally resolving these through proposed policy and other reforms. The originality of the research is hinged on the adopted approach which affords a holistic assessment of the African human rights system. This translates into concrete findings on the actual practice of the Charter and informed reform proposals based upon a thorough critical evaluation of these findings. The research, therefore, makes a case for an assessment of human rights in Africa based on the continent’s internal standards as represented by the African Charter. It is shown, through this approach, that there are a number of discrepancies between theory and practice such that the regional system often, wholly or partially, fails in its implementation of human rights even when its actions are assessed by distinctly African standards.
It is argued that these theory/practice discrepancies are occasioned by three convergent challenges namely the lack of adequate cooperation from member states, practical socio-economic and cultural challenges, and institutional ineffectiveness. The research argues that, unless these challenges are adequately addressed, the practice of human rights in the continent will continue to fall short of the expectations generated by the African Charter.

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