The African States members of the Organisation of African Unity, parties to the present Convention entitled “African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Recalling Decision 115 (XVI) of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government at its Sixteenth Ordinary Session held in Monrovia, Liberia, from 17 to 20 July 1979 on the preparation of “a preliminary draft on an African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, providing inter alia for the establishment of bodies to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights”;
Considering the Charter of the Organisation of African Unity, which stipulates that “freedom, equality, justice and dignity are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African peoples”;
Reaffirming the pledge they solemnly made in Article 2 of the said Charter to eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa, to coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa and to promote international cooperation having due regard to the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
Taking into consideration the virtues of their historical tradition and the values of African civilization which should inspire and characterize their reflection on the concept of human and peoples’ rights;
Recognizing on the one hand, that fundamental human rights stem from the attitudes of human beings, which justifies their international protection and on the other hand that the reality and respect of peoples’ rights should necessarily guarantee human rights;
Considering that the enjoyment of rights and freedoms also implies the performance of duties on the part of everyone;
Convinced that it is henceforth essential to pay particular attention to the right to development and that civil and political rights cannot be dissociated from economic, social and cultural rights in their conception as well as universality and that the satisfaction of economic, social and cultural rights is a guarantee for the enjoyment of civil and political rights;
Conscious of their duty to achieve the total liberation of Africa, the peoples of which are still struggling for their dignity and genuine independence, and undertaking to eliminate colonialism, neo-colonialism, apartheid, zionism and to dismantle aggressive foreign military bases and all forms of discrimination, language, religion or political opinions;
Reaffirming their adherence to the principles of human and peoples’ rights and freedoms contained in the declarations, conventions and other instruments adopted by the Organisation of African Unity, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and the United Nations;
Firmly convinced of their duty to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights and freedoms and taking into account the importance traditionally attached to these rights and freedoms in Africa;
HAVE AGREED AS FOLLOWS:
The Member States of the Organisation of African Unity, parties to the present Charter shall recognise the rights, duties and freedoms enshrined in the Charter and shall undertake to adopt legislative or other measures to give effect to them.
Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognised and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or any status.
Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.
Every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being and to the recognition of his legal status. All forms of exploitation and degradation of man, particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment shall be prohibited.
Every individual shall have the right to liberty and to the security of his person. No one may be deprived of his freedom except for reasons and conditions previously laid down by law. In particular, no one may be arbitrarily arrested or detained.
Freedom of conscience, the profession and free practice of religion shall be guaranteed. No one may, subject to law and order, be submitted to measures restricting the exercise of these freedoms.
Every individual shall have the right to assemble freely with others. The exercise of this right shall be subject only to necessary restrictions provided for by law, in particular those enacted in the interest of national security, the safety, health, ethics and rights and freedoms of others.
Every individual shall have the right to leave any country including his own, and to return to his country.
This right may only be subject to restrictions, provided for by law for the protection of national security, law and order, public health or morality.
The right to property shall be guaranteed. It may only be encroached upon in the interest of public need or in the general interest of the community and in accordance with the provisions of appropriate laws.
Every individual shall have the right to work under equitable and satisfactory conditions, and shall receive equal pay for equal work.
All peoples shall be equal; they shall enjoy the same respect and shall have the same rights. Nothing shall justify the domination of a people by another.
All peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favourable to their development.
State Parties to the present Charter shall have the duty to promote and ensure through teaching, education and publication, the respect of the rights and freedoms contained in the present Charter and to see to it that these freedoms and rights as well as corresponding obligations and duties are understood.
State Parties to the present Charter shall have the duty to guarantee the independence of the Courts and shall allow the establishment and improvement of appropriate national institutions entrusted with the promotion and protection of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the present Charter.
Every individual shall have the duty to respect and consider his fellow beings without discrimination, and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance.
The individual shall also have the duty:
An African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, hereinafter called “the Commission”, shall be established within the Organisation of African Unity to promote human and peoples’ rights and ensure their protection in Africa.
The Commission shall not include more than one national of the same State.
The members of the Commission shall be elected by secret ballot by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, from a list of persons nominated by the State Parties to the present Charter.
Each State Party to the present Charter may not nominate more than two candidates. The candidates must have the nationality of one of the State Parties to the present Charter. When two candidates are nominated by a State, one of them may not be a national of that State.
The members of the Commission shall be elected for a six year period and shall be eligible for re-election. However, the term of office of four of the members elected at the first election shall terminate after two years and the term of office of three others, at the end of four years.
Immediately after the first election, the Chairman of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organisation of African Unity shall draw lots to decide the names of those members referred to in Article 36.
After their election, the members of the Commission shall make a solemn declaration to discharge their duties impartially and faithfully.
Every member of the Commission shall be in office until the date his successor assumes office.
The Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity shall appoint the Secretary of the Commission. He shall provide the staff and services necessary for the effective discharge of the duties of the Commission. The Organisation of African Unity shall bear cost of the staff and services.
In discharging their duties, members of the Commission shall enjoy diplomatic privileges and immunities provided for in the General Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Organisation of African Unity.
Provision shall be made for the emoluments and allowances of the members of the Commission in the Regular Budget of the Organisation of African Unity.
The functions of the Commission shall be:
The Commission may resort to any appropriate method of investigation; it may hear from the Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity or any other person capable of enlightening it.
If a State Party to the present Charter has good reasons to believe that another State Party to this Charter has violated the provisions of the Charter, it may draw, by written communication, the attention of that State to the matter. This Communication shall also be addressed to the Secretary General of the OAU and to the Chairman of the Commission. Within three months of the receipt of the Communication, the State to which the Communication is addressed shall give the enquiring State, written explanation or statement elucidating the matter. This should include as much as possible, relevant information relating to the laws and rules of procedure applied and applicable and the redress already given or course of action available.
If within three months from the date on which the original communication is received by the State to which it is addressed, the issue is not settled to the satisfaction of the two States involved through bilateral negotiation or by any other peaceful procedure, either State shall have the right to submit the matter to the Commission through the Chairman and shall notify the other States involved.
Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 47, if a State Party to the present Charter considers that another State Party has violated the provisions of the Charter, it may refer the matter directly to the Commission by addressing a communication to the Chairman, to the Secretary General of the Organisation of African unity and the State concerned.
The Commission can only deal with a matter submitted to it after making sure that all local remedies, if they exist, have been exhausted, unless it is obvious to the Commission that the procedure of achieving these remedies would be unduly prolonged.
After having obtained from the States concerned and from other sources all the information it deems necessary and after having tried all appropriate means to reach an amicable solution based on the respect of human and peoples’ rights, the Commission shall prepare, within a reasonable period of time from the notification referred to in Article 48, a report to the States concerned and communicated to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
While transmitting its report, the Commission may make to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government such recommendations as it deems useful.
The Commission shall submit to each Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government a report on its activities.
Communications relating to Human and Peoples’ rights referred to in Article 55 received by the Commission, shall be considered if they:
Prior to any substantive consideration, all communications shall be brought to the knowledge of the State concerned by the Chairman of the Commission.
The Commission shall draw inspiration from international law on human and peoples’ rights, particularly from the provisions of various African instruments on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Charter of the United Nations, the Charter of the Organisation of African Unity, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, other instruments adopted by the United Nations and by African countries in the field of Human and Peoples’ Rights, as well as from the provisions of various instruments adopted within the Specialised Agencies of the United Nations of which the Parties to the present Charter are members.
The Commission shall also take into consideration, as subsidiary measures to determine the principles of law, other general or special international conventions, laying down rules expressly recognised by Member States of the Organisation of African Unity, African practices consistent with international norms on Human and Peoples’ Rights, customs generally accepted as law, general principles of law recognised by African States as well as legal precedents and doctrine.
Each State Party shall undertake to submit every two years, from the date the present Charter comes into force, a report on the legislative or other measures taken, with a view to giving effect to the rights and freedoms recognised and guaranteed by the present Charter.
For each of the States that will ratify or adhere to the present Charter after its coming into force, the Charter shall take effect three months after the date of the deposit by that State of the instrument of ratification or adherence.
Special protocols or agreements may, if necessary, supplement the provisions of the present Charter.
The Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity shall inform members of the Organisation of the deposit of each instrument of ratification or adherence.
The present Charter may be amended if a State Party makes a written request to that effect to the Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity. The Assembly of Heads of State and Government may only consider the draft amendment after all the State Parties have been duly informed of it and the Commission has given its opinion on it at the request of the sponsoring State. The amendment shall be approved by a simple majority of the State Parties. It shall come into force for each State which has accepted it in accordance with its constitutional procedure three months after the Secretary General has received notice of the acceptance.
Adopted by the eighteenth Assembly of Heads of State and Government,
June 1981 - Nairobi, Kenya
Having considered the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, the Arab Republic of Egypt signed the said Charter on 16 November 1981 and attached hereto is the following instrument of ratification:
Having accepted all the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights with the approval of the People's Assembly and with the reservation that article 8 and paragraph 3 of article 8 and paragraph 3 of article 18 be implemented in accordance with the Islamic Law and that, as far as the Arab Republic of Egypt is concerned, the provision of the first paragraph of article 9 should be [confined] to such information as could be obtained within the limits of the Egyptian laws and regulations;
We hereby declare acceptance and ratification of the said Charter.
While acceding to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights it is the view of the Republic of South Africa that there should be consultation between States parties to the Charter, inter alia, to:
WHEREAS the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights was adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the Organisation of African Unity held at Nairobi in June 1981:
AND WHEREAS the Government of the Republic of Zambia signed the Charter on 17th January 1983;
AND WHEREAS the Charter provides that the Charter is subject to ratification by the States Parties which are signatories to the Charter;
AND WHEREAS the Republic of Zambia is a State Party to the Charter on whose behalf the Charter has been signed;
NOW THEREFORE the Government of the Republic of Zambia having considered the aforesaid Charter hereby
CONFIRMS AND RATIFIES the same on behalf of the Republic of Zambia and undertakes faithfully to observe the provisions and carry out all the stipulations therein contained subject to the following amendments or reservations:
(Explanation: The purpose of this reservation is to exclude any claim for the right to use by all citizens of all public property other than as fairly established.)
(Explanation: This is to avoid calling on the Chairman, who is after all a Head of State, carrying out the rather menial exercise of drawing lots. It being understood that the Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity would draw such lots.)
(Explanation:- In the interest of early universal ratification of the Charter by the Organisation of African Unity Countries and also since all Heads of State of the OAU will together tackle the problems of administering or enforcing the Charter including, where necessary, criticising fellow Heads of State who are proved to have violated the Charter, all members of the OAU should carry some responsibility, under the Charter, for the state of human and peoples' rights in their respective countries.)