Main Features of the African Charter

The Charter has the following unique features:
  • The Charter recognises the indivisibility of all rights: All ‘generations’ of rights are recognised. Socio-economic rights are justiciable.

    ‘Clearly, collective rights, environmental rights and economic and social rights are essential elements of human rights in Africa. The African Commission will apply any of the diverse rights contained in the African Charter. It welcomes this opportunity to make clear that there is no right in the African Charter that cannot be made effective.’

    SERAC v Nigeria, para 68

  • No derogations are allowed.

    ‘... the African Charter does not contain a derogation clause. Therefore the limitations on the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter cannot be justified by emergencies and special circumstances. The only legitimate reasons for limitations to the rights and freedoms of the Charter are found in article 27(2) ...’

    Media Rights Agenda v Nigeria, paras 68 & 69

  • Recognition of peoples’ rights such as the peoples’ rights to development, free disposal of natural resources, and self determination.

    ‘The African Commission wishes to emphasise that the Charter recognises the rights of peoples.’

    Endorois case, para 155

  • Imposition of duties on both states and individuals.

    ‘The enjoyment of rights and freedom also implies the performance of duties on the part of everyone.’

    Preamble of the African Charter