The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), decided at its 39th Ordinary Session, held in Banjul, The Gambia, from 11-25 May 2006, to undertake a study on human rights violations by Non-State Actors (NSAs). Commissioner Musa N. Bitaye, a Member of the African Commission and Chairperson of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa, was delegated to coordinate the study.

The main purpose of the study was to map out issues for further research which would contribute to the development of jurisprudence by the African Commission as a basis for holding NSAs liable for violations of the rights enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter). The study sought to attain this goal by exploring the gamut of national, regional and international systems as relates to human rights law, with the objective of identifying emerging or existing legal principles, including case law, applicable in holding NSAs accountable for human rights violations committed within African States. This study was completed and submitted to the African Commission for consideration and adoption.

During the course of the consideration of the study on NSAs, the African Commission received several reports from NGOs with Observer Status regarding human rights violations by various groups and private companies working in the extractive sector in many African countries. These reports raised several issues ranging from war lords’ activities, the environment, the mining industry, which ultimately led to a rethinking of the Terms of Reference of the study being conducted. The Report produced was subsequently adopted by the African Commission, and one of the results of this study was the establishment of a Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa (the Working Group).

At the 46th Ordinary Session, held in Banjul, The Gambia, from 11-25 November 2009, the African Commission established the Working Group, in Resolution ACHPR/Res.148(XLVI)09.



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