Title page for ETD etd-02102010-085034


Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Ebobrah, Solomon Tamarabrakemi
Email sebobrah@yahoo.co.uk
URN etd-02102010-085034
Document Title Legitimacy and feasibility of human rights realisation through regional economic communities in Africa : the case of the economic community of West African states
Degree LLD
Department Centre for Human Rights
Supervisor
Advisor Name Title
Prof F Viljoen Supervisor
Keywords
  • African Charter on Human and Peoplesí Rights
  • African Commission on Human and Peoplesí Rights
Date 2009-12-10
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Since 1981, when the African Charter on Human and Peoplesí Rights was adopted on the platform of the Organisation of African Unity, one of the main challenges for players in the field of human rights in Africa has been to find effective fora in which the rights of the most vulnerable can be vindicated. The African Charter on Human and Peoplesí Rights, together with other African human rights instruments, the global human rights instruments to which African states are parties and national bills of rights entrenched in the national constitutions of most African states make up the body of human rights norms that exist for the benefit of victims of human rights violation in the continent. This body of normative standards are expected to be given effect at the national level. However, given that the expectation has not always been met, international supervisory bodies have played an increasingly important role in the African human rights landscape.

At the continental level, the African Commission on Human and Peoplesí Rights which was established under the African Charter was the original forum for the vindication of human rights for a number of years. Over the years, other continental human rights supervisory bodies have been established under the defunct OAU and the AU. National human rights institutions and these continental bodies have gained recognition as the structures of the African human rights architecture. However, since the early part of the new millennium, new institutional actors have begun to appear in the African human rights landscape. Originally established as vehicles for subregional economic integration, regional economic communities (RECs) in Africa have expressly or implicitly authorised their organs and institutions to engage actively in the field of human rights. This trend has been most evident in the operations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The entry of African RECs in the continental landscape has raised several questions. From the perspective of international law, against the background of the principle of attributed competence that guides the existence and operations of international organisations, the question of legality and legitimacy is triggered. From the perspective of protecting the unity and continued existence of the African human rights system, questions relating to the feasibility and desirability of REC involvement in the African human rights landscape emerge for determination.

Using ECOWAS as the main case study but also touching on the budding human rights activities of the East African Community and the Southern Africa Development Community, this study has sought to demonstrate that REC involvement in the field of human rights is legitimate and feasible. Combining descriptive, prescriptive and comparative analytical approaches, this study argues that African RECs, in particular ECOWAS, can be effective vehicles for human rights realisation in Africa without compromising their original stated objectives or upsetting the work of the structures in the traditional African human rights architecture. Extracting the challenges that can be associated with REC involvement in the field of human rights, this study sets up the criteria for a non-disruptive model for subregional realisation of human rights under the platform of RECs in Africa.

© 2009, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Ebobrah, ST 2009, Legitimacy and feasibility of human rights realisation through regional economic communities in Africa : the case of the economic community of West African states, LLD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-02102010-085034/ >

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