The African Court of Justice and the African Court on Human and People’s Rights were merged by virtue of the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights into a single court. African Court of Justice and Human Rights which from now on, in this paper will be referred to as the ACJHR. I will look at the formation of the ACJHR, its development, the criticisms, the functions and so forth. 2.
Formation of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights On 9 July 2002, the OAU was formally replaced by the AU. In July 2003, the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government adopted the Protocol of the Court of Justice of the AU (ACJ Protocol). On 8 July 2004, the AU Assembly decided to merge the ACHPR with the ACJ (Olufemi.2011:20:45). The decision to merge the two courts was based on the need to rationalise the existence of the two courts and to make them cost effective. In mid-2008, African leaders voted to establish the ACJHR to serve as the main judicial organ of the AU. As previously mentioned, the legal agreement establishing the court is now open for signature and ratification by African states (Mashood.2010:20-249). 3.
Development of the ACJHR in the African system
It is worth noting at the outset that the ACJHR, whose main purpose is to serve as the principal judicial organ of the AU, is not yet functional. The ACJHR was established by the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/PROTOCOL_STATUTE_AFRICAN_COURT_ JUSTICE_AND_HUMAN_RIGHTS.pdf [28 August 2013]
The ACJHR Protocol was adopted at an AU Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on 1 July 2008. The ACJHR Protocol and the Statute annexed to it will enter into force thirty days after the deposit of the instruments of ratification by fifteen member states. Only five states which were Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso, Congo and Benin, these countries have ratified the ACJHR Protocol as at the time of publication. Nevertheless the development of the ACJHR is worth contemplating for its potential future impact in the human rights arena on the African continent. In order to fully understand the development of the ACJHR, it is necessary to undertake a brief historical overview of the AU as a whole. 4.
The shift from Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to African Union (AU) The African Union (AU) was born out of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which was established on 25 May 1963 with the adoption of the OAU Charter by thirty two African States in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The main aim of the OAU was to promote intergovernmental relations on the African continent and to serve as a mechanism. In 1981 the OAU adopted the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) and this was to serve as the key regional human rights treaty for Africa. The African Charter entered into force in 1986 and has been ratified by all fifty three members of the African Union. In 1987 the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) was established and this represented the first major pan-African human rights institution, acting as the supervisory organ of the African Charter. The Commission can hear individual complaints but its decisions are not binding. In June 1998, the OAU adopted the Protocol on the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR Protocol). The Court was established to compliment the protective mandate of the African Commission. In December 2003, the ACHPR Protocol achieved the required 15th ratification for the Protocol to become operative (Ssenyonjo.2011:11-289). 5.
Functions of the Court
The African Court of Justice and Human Rights shall be the main judicial organ of the African Union. The court shall be constituted and function in accordance with the provisions of the present Statute. It will deal with matters such as breaches of treaty obligations by state parties and the exercise of the power of the African Union...
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