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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Rules of Procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights of 2010



Preliminary Provisions
Rule 1: Objective
These Rules regulate the organisation and establish the procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in accordance with Article 42 (2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In the absence of a provision in these Rules or in case of doubt as to their interpretation, the Commission shall decide.
Rule 2: Definitions
For the purpose of these Rules:
 
“African Charter” refers to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
 
“African Children’s Charter” refers to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
 
“African Commission” or “Commission” refers to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
 
“African Court Protocol” refers to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
 
“African Court” refers to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
 
“Amendment to a proposed motion” is an addition to, deletion from or revision of part of that motion.
 
“Assembly” refers to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
 
“Bureau” refers to the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson.
 
“Chairperson” refers to the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
 
“Child Rights Committee” refers to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
 
“Commissioner” refers to a member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
 
“Day” shall be understood to be a natural day.
 
“Executive Council” refers to the Executive Council of the African Union.
 
“Member State” refers to a Member State of the African Union.
 
“Secretary” refers to the Secretary to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
 
“Serious or massive violations” refers to grave human rights violations as distinguished by their scale and importance.
 
“Session” refers to the statutory meetings of the Commission. This includes Ordinary and Extraordinary sessions.
 
“Specialized Organs” refers to specialized organs put in place by the United Nations and African Union.
 
“State Party” refers to African States that have ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
 
“Subsidiary Mechanism” refers to any mechanism established in accordance with Rule 23 of these Rules.
 
“Third party” refers to any other party than the complaining or defending parties.
 
“Union” refers to the African Union.
 
“Vice-Chairperson” refers to the Vice-Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
 
“Working Language” refers to the working languages of the African Union.
 
Part One: General Rules
Chapter I: Status and Composition
Rule 3: Status
The African Commission is an autonomous treaty body working within the framework of the African Union to promote human and peoples’ rights and ensure their protection in Africa.
 
Rule 4 Composition
In conformity with Article 31 of the African Charter, the Commission shall consist of eleven (11) members chosen from amongst African personalities of the highest reputation, known for their high morality, integrity, impartiality and competence in matters of human and peoples’ rights, particular consideration being given to persons having legal experience.
The members of the Commission shall serve in their personal capacity.
Chapter II: Membership
Rule 5: Term of office
Members of the Commission are elected for six years and shall be eligible for re-election.
If a member of the Commission is re-elected at the expiry of his or her term of office, or elected to replace a member whose term of office has expired or will expire, the term of office shall begin from that expiry date.
In conformity with Article 39(3) of the African Charter, the member of the Commission elected to replace a member whose term has not expired, shall complete the term of his or her predecessor. However, if the remaining term of office is less than six months, there shall be no replacement.
Rule 6: Order of precedence
In the discharge of their duties, members of the Commission shall follow the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson according to their seniority in office. When there are two or more members of the Commission with equal seniority, precedence shall be given to the oldest.
A member of the Commission who is re-elected to a new term of office which is continuous with his/her previous term shall retain his/her precedence.
Rule 7: Incompatibility
The position of member of the Commission is incompatible with any activity that might interfere with the independence or impartiality of such a member or demands of the office such as a member of government, a Minister or under-secretary of State, a diplomatic representative, a director of a ministry, or one of his subordinates, or the legal adviser to a foreign office or any other political binding function or participate in any activity of the nature that will compromise the independence and impartiality.
The Bureau of the Commission shall ensure that the requirements in Rule 7(1) above are enforced in accordance with Articles 31(1 & 2) and 39(2) of the African Charter.
In the case of incompatibility, the Chairperson of the Commission shall inform the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, who shall declare the seat vacant.
Rule 8: Cessation of function
If in the unanimous opinion of the other members of the Commission, a member has stopped discharging his or her duty for any reason other than temporary absence, the Chairperson of the Commission shall inform the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, who shall declare the seat vacant.
A member of the Commission may resign from his or her position at any time. He or she shall do so through a written notification addressed to the Chairperson of the Commission who shall transmit it to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
The resignation shall take effect three months from the date of submission of the letter of resignation.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission shall upon receipt of the notification, declare the seat vacant. The vacancy shall be effective from the date the resignation takes effect.
In the case of death of a member of the Commission, the Chairperson shall immediately inform the Chairperson of the African Union Commission who shall declare the seat vacant from the date of the death.
Every seat declared vacant in conformity with the present Rule shall be filled in accordance with paragraph 3 of Article 39 of the African Charter.
Rule 9: Solemn declaration
In conformity with Article 38 of the African Charter, before assuming office, every member of the Commission shall make the following solemn declaration at a public sitting of the Commission: “I solemnly undertake to carry out my duties well and faithfully in all impartiality.”
 
Chapter III: Bureau of the Commission
Rule 10: Composition of the Bureau
The Bureau of the Commission shall be composed of a Chairperson and a Vice-Chairperson who shall perform the functions set forth in the African Charter and in these Rules of Procedure.
 
Rule 11: Election of the Bureau
The Commission shall elect from among its members a Chairperson and a Vice-Chairperson.
Election shall be held by secret ballot. Only members present shall vote. A member who obtains a simple majority of the votes of the members of the Commission present and voting shall be elected.
Rule 12: Duration of the term of the members of the Bureau
The members of the Bureau of the Commission shall be elected for a period of two years. They shall be eligible for re-election only once. None of them may, however, exercise his or her functions if he or she ceases to be a member of the Commission.
Rule 13: Powers and functions of the Bureau
The Bureau shall coordinate the promotion and protection activities of the members of the Commission.
The Bureau shall supervise the work of the Secretary, including the preparation and approval of the work-plan of the Commission.
The Bureau shall annually assess the performance of the Secretary. It shall submit its assessment to the Commission for its consideration and decision.
Rule 14: Powers and functions of the Chairperson
The Chairperson shall carry out the functions assigned to him or her by the Charter, the Rules of Procedure and the decisions of the Commission and the Assembly. In the exercise of his or her functions the Chairperson shall be under the authority of the Commission.
The Chairperson shall:
Represent and direct the work of the Commission;
Preside over the meetings of the Commission;
Submit the assessment report referred to in Rule 13(3) to the competent organs of the African Union Commission;
Supervise the preparation of the budget by the Secretariat and its adoption by the Commission;
Present and defend the budget before the relevant African Union bodies;
Present a report to the Assembly and to the Commission on the activities carried out during the intersession;
Perform any other functions that may be conferred upon him or her in the Rules of Procedure or other tasks entrusted to him or her by the Commission or the Assembly; and
Delegate, when necessary, to the Vice-Chairperson or, if the Vice-Chairperson is not available, to another Commissioner, the abovementioned powers.
Rule 15: Powers and functions of the Vice-Chairperson
If the Chairperson is temporarily unable to perform his or her duties, the Vice-Chairperson, shall perform the duties of the Chairperson.
The Vice-Chairperson, acting in the capacity of the Chairperson, has the same powers and functions as the Chairperson.
The Vice-Chairperson shall perform any other function delegated to him or her by the Commission or the Chairperson of the Commission.
If both the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson are unable to carry out their duties at the same time, the duties of Chairperson shall be carried out by another Commissioner according to the order of precedence laid down in Rule 6.
Rule 16: Resignation, vacancy and replacement
If a member of the Bureau of the Commission resigns from his or her position or ceases to be a member of the Commission, the remaining member shall represent the Bureau until the next session, when the Commission shall fill the position for the remainder of the term of office.
 
Chapter IV: Secretariat to the Commission.
Rule 17: Composition, Structure and Status of the Secretariat
Without prejudice to Article 41 of the African Charter, the Commission shall propose the organizational structure of the Secretariat and shall place it before the African Union for approval.
The Secretariat of the Commission is composed of the Secretary and the Commission’s professional, technical and administrative staff.
The Secretary shall be appointed by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission pursuant to article 41 of the African Charter after consultation with the Chairperson of the African Commission.
The Status of the Secretary and the staff is governed by the African Union Staff Rules and Regulations.
Rule 18: Functions of the Secretary to the Commission
The Secretary to the Commission is responsible for the activities of the Secretariat under the supervision of the Chairperson. The Secretary shall specifically:
 
Assist the Chairperson, the Bureau of the Commission and other members of the Commission in the exercise of their functions;
Supervise and co-ordinate the work of the staff of the Secretariat;
Keep proper records of the Commission, which must be properly organized for easy reference;
Ensure confidentiality of the Commission’s records where appropriate;
Submit to the Chairperson and the members of the Commission all items that will be considered by the Commission;
In consultation with the Chairperson, prepare:
a draft agenda for each session;
the Commission’s strategic plan, annual work plan and annual budget;
guidelines on missions for adoption by the Commission;
Present a written report to the Commission at the beginning of each session on the activities of the Secretariat since the preceding session;
Implement the decisions entrusted to him or her by the Commission or the Bureau;
Make available to the general public documents which are not confidential, including States Reports, by ensuring that they are posted on the website of the Commission;
Ensure the maintenance and regular updating of the website of the Commission;
Assess the performance of the staff of the Commission.
Rule 19: Financial responsibility
The expenses of the Commission, emoluments and allowances for Commissioners and the budget of the Secretariat, shall be borne by the African Union, in accordance with criteria laid down by the African Union in consultation with the Commission.
 
Rule 20: Financial Rules
The implementation of provisions of Articles 41 and 44 of the Charter shall be governed by the African Union’s financial rules.
 
Rule 21: Estimate
When the Commission considers a proposal entailing expenses, the Secretary shall prepare and present to the members of the Commission, as soon as possible, a report outlining the financial implications of the proposal.
 
Rule 22: Confidentiality of the work of the Commission
The staff of the Secretariat must observe the principle of confidentiality in all matters that the Commission considers confidential as stipulated under the Charter and these Rules.
 
Chapter V: Subsidiary Mechanisms
Rule 23: Special Rapporteurs, Committees and Working Groups
The Commission may create subsidiary mechanisms such as special rapporteurs, committees, and working groups.
The creation and membership of such subsidiary mechanisms may be determined by consensus, failing which, the decision shall be taken by voting.
The Commission shall determine the mandate and the terms of reference of each subsidiary mechanism. Each subsidiary mechanism shall present a report on its work to the Commission at each ordinary session of the Commission.
Rule 24: Applicable rules for Subsidiary Mechanisms
The Rules of Procedure of the Commission shall apply mutatis mutandis to the proceedings of its subsidiary mechanisms.
 
Chapter VI Sessions
Rule 25: General principles
The Commission shall hold Ordinary and Extraordinary Sessions, to enable it to satisfactorily carry out its functions in conformity with the African Charter.
Sessions of the Commission shall be held in public unless the Commission decides otherwise or if it appears from the relevant provisions of the Charter that the meeting shall be held in private.
Rule 26: Ordinary Sessions
The Commission shall hold at least two Ordinary Sessions per year each lasting for about two weeks, unless the Commission decides otherwise.
The Ordinary Sessions of the Commission shall be convened on a date fixed by the Commission upon the proposal of its Chairperson and in consultation with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
In exceptional circumstances, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission may change the opening date of a session, in consultation with the Chairperson of the Commission.
Rule 27: Extraordinary Sessions
The Commission shall also hold Extraordinary Sessions.
The Chairperson of the Commission shall convene Extraordinary Sessions:
At the request of the majority of the members of the Commission; or
At the request of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
Extraordinary Sessions shall be convened on a date fixed by the Chairperson of the Commission, in consultation with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the other members of the Commission.
Rule 28: Place of meetings
The sessions of the Commission shall be held at its headquarters, or in the territory of any other State Party which invites the Commission.
In the event that a State Party invites the Commission to hold a session in its country, that State Party shall sign an agreement with the Commission to host the session of the Commission, which agreement shall vest the State Party with the responsibility for all additional expenses incurred by the Commission as a result of the session being held outside its headquarters, in conformity with the relevant rules of the African Union.
A State Party offering to host a session of the Commission shall not be under any suspension of the African Union. Any country wishing to host a session of the Commission should commit itself to respecting the provisions of Article 62, and should comply with all the recommendations of the African Commission, where necessary.
The Commission may, in consultation with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, hold a session at the headquarters of the African Union. The sharing of costs for such session shall be as agreed with the African Union Commission.
The Commission may hold joint sessions in consultation with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, or any other African regional human rights organ.
Rule 29: Notification of the Opening Date of the Sessions
The Secretary shall inform members of the Commission of the date and venue of each session. This notice shall be sent, in the case of an Ordinary Session, at least sixty (60) days before the Session unless exceptional circumstances require otherwise.
In the case of an Extraordinary Session, the notice shall be sent as soon as possible before the beginning of the session.
Rule 30: Quorum
Seven members of the Commission shall constitute the quorum, as specified in Article 42 (3) of the Charter.
Rule 31: Private Sessions
Private Sessions of the Commission shall be held in private and deliberations shall remain confidential.
During a Private Session, the Secretary to the Commission, members of the Secretariat and persons providing technical or secretarial assistance to the Commission shall be present unless the Commission decides otherwise.
The Commission shall ensure the confidentiality of all case files, including pleadings. This provision shall not be interpreted to prohibit the prompt sharing of pleadings with the parties to a Communication.
The Chairperson of the Commission may communicate to the public general information on deliberations in Private Sessions, subject to the exigencies of Article 59 of the Charter and any special directions by the Commission.
CHAPTER VII: AGENDA
Rule 32: Provisional Agenda
The Provisional Agenda for each Ordinary Session shall be drawn up by the Secretary in consultation with the Bureau of the Commission and in accordance with the provisions of the Charter and the present Rules of Procedure.
The Provisional Agenda shall include but not be limited to, items on “Communications from States” and “Other Communications” in conformity with the provisions of Articles 48, 49, and 55 of the Charter.
3. Pursuant to paragraph 1 of this Rule, the Provisional Agenda may also include items proposed by:
The Commission at a previous Session;
The Chairperson of the Commission or a member of the Commission;
A State Party to the African Charter;
Any African Union organ;
An organisation recognized by the African Union, a national human rights institution with affiliate status or a non-governmental organisation with observer status;
A specialized institution of the United Nations of which the State Parties to the African Charter are members.
The items to be included in the provisional agenda under subparagraphs d, e and f of paragraph 3 above shall be communicated to the Secretary, accompanied by supporting documents, not later than sixty (60) days before the opening of the Session at which these items are to be discussed.
The decision to include an item on the provisional agenda is taken by the Bureau of the Commission. If the request is accepted, the Secretary shall include the item on the Provisional Agenda of the session and inform the requesting party of this decision within one month.
The Provisional Agenda of an Extraordinary Session of the Commission shall include only the items in the notification issued by the Chairperson.
Rule 33: Transmission and distribution of the Provisional Agenda
The Secretary shall distribute the Provisional Agenda and the relevant working documents to the members of the Commission at least sixty (60) days before the opening of an Ordinary Session.
The Secretary shall transmit the provisional agenda and the essential documents of the session to State Parties, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, affiliate institutions and observers at least forty-five (45) days before the opening of an Ordinary Session of the Commission.
The Secretary, in consultation with the members of the Commission in exceptional cases, may distribute the Provisional Agenda and essential documents relating to certain items on the Agenda thirty (30) days prior to the opening of an Ordinary Session.
The Secretary shall transmit by all appropriate means, including posting on the website of the Commission, the Provisional Agenda of the Session to State Parties, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, affiliate institutions and observers at least fifteen (15) days before the opening of an Ordinary Session of the Commission.
Rule 34: Adoption of the Agenda
At the beginning of each Session, the Commission shall adopt the agenda of the Session.
Proposals made under Rule 32(3) of the present Rules shall be included in the Agenda of the Session if a majority of the members present so decide.
Rule 35: Revision of the Agenda
The Commission may, during the Session, revise its Agenda.
 
CHAPTER VIII: LANGUAGE
Rule 36: Working Languages
The Working Languages of the Commission and all its subsidiary mechanisms are those of the African Union.
The proceedings of the Commission shall be conducted in any of the Working Languages of the African Union.
Any person addressing the Commission in a language other than one of the Working Languages shall ensure the interpretation into one of the Working Languages of the Commission. The interpreters of the Commission shall take this interpretation as the source language for their interpretation in the other Working Languages of the Commission.
CHAPTER IX: RECORDS AND REPORTS
Rule 37: Records and reports of Sessions
The Secretary shall keep recordings of the proceedings of the sessions of the Commission and of the meetings of its subsidiary mechanisms.
The Secretary shall prepare a Report of the proceedings of each session of the Commission.
The Report referred to in paragraph 2 of the present rule shall be adopted by the Commission before publication, including posting on the website.
Rule 38: Publication and distribution of Session Reports
The Final Report of the Public Session shall be posted on the website unless the Commission decides otherwise.
The Final Report of the private sessions of the Commission shall be distributed to all members of the Commission.
CHAPTER X: CONDUCT OF BUSINESS
Rule 39: Additional powers of the Chairperson
The Chairperson shall open and close each session, direct the discussions, ensure observance of the present Rules of Procedure, accord the right to speak, put questions to the vote and announce decisions.
 
Rule 40: Points of Order
During a debate on any matter a member of the Commission may, at any time, raise a point of order and the Chairperson of the Commission, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure, shall immediately rule on the point of order. If a member of the Commission contests the ruling, it shall immediately be put to a vote. If the majority of the members of the Commission present uphold the Chairperson’s ruling, it shall be maintained.
A member of the Commission raising a point of order cannot, in his or her comments, deal with the substance of the matter under discussion.
Rule 41: Adjournment of debates
During the discussion on any matter, a member of the Commission may move for the adjournment of the debate. In addition to the proposer of the motion, one member of the Commission may speak in favour of and one against the motion after which the motion shall be immediately put to a vote.
 
Rule 42: Time limit accorded to speakers
The Chairperson of the Commission may limit the time accorded to each speaker on any matter. When a speaker exceeds his or her allotted time, the Chairperson of the Commission shall call him or her to order.
 
Rule 43: Closing the list of speakers
The Chairperson of the Commission may, before the beginning of a debate, read out the list of speakers and with the consent of the Commission, declare the list closed.
The Chairperson of the Commission may, however, accord the right of reply to any speaker if a speech delivered after the list has been closed makes this desirable.
Rule 44: Closure of debate
A member of the Commission may, at any time during a debate, move for the closure of the debate on the item under discussion, even if the other members of the Commission or representatives have expressed the desire to take the floor. The authorization to take the floor on the closure of the debate shall be given only to two speakers for and against the closure, after which the motion shall immediately be put to a vote.
When the debate on an item is concluded, the Chairperson of the Commission shall declare the debate closed.
Rule 45: Adjournment or closure of session
During the discussion on any matter, a member of the Commission may move for the adjournment or closure of the sessions. No discussion on any such motion shall be permitted and it shall be immediately put to a vote.
 
Rule 46: Order of the Motions
The following motions shall have precedence in the following order over all the other proposals or motions before the Commission:
 
Competence of the Commission;
Point of order;
Recusal of a Member of the Commission;
Adjournment of the session;
Adjournment of debate on the item under discussion;
Closure of debate on the item under discussion.
Rule 47: Submission of motion and amendment of substance
Unless the Commission decides otherwise, the motions or amendments to motions on substantive matters made by members of the Commission shall be submitted in writing to the Secretary with supporting documents.
 
Rule 48: Withdrawal and re-submission of a motion
The sponsor of a motion may withdraw it before it is put to vote, provided that it has not been amended. Another member of the Commission may re-submit a motion thus withdrawn. When a member of the Commission moves for the resubmission of a motion, only one member of the Commission may speak in favour of and one against the motion, after which it shall immediately be put to a vote.
 
Rule 49: Oral interventions
No one may take the floor at a meeting of the Commission without the authorization of the Chairperson of the Commission. The Chairperson of the Commission shall grant the floor to speakers in the order in which it has been requested.
Oral intervention shall deal solely with the matter under discussion by the Commission and the Chairperson of the Commission shall call to order any speaker whose remarks are irrelevant.
The Chairperson of the Commission may limit the time accorded to speakers as well as the number of interventions in accordance with the present Rules of Procedure. The time limit for each speaker shall be determined by the Chairperson.
Rule 50: Right of reply
A right of reply may be granted by the Chairperson of the Commission to any member of the Commission or representative of a State Party who requests it.
A member of the Commission or representative of a State Party must, while exercising this right, respect the time limit fixed by the Chairperson for reply and take the floor preferably at the end of the sitting at which this right has been requested.
The right of reply shall be limited to one reply per party and all parties shall have the same length of time to reply.
CHAPTER XI: VOTING
Rule 51: Right to vote
Decisions of the Commission may be taken by consensus, failing which the decision shall be taken by voting.
However, at the request of a member, any proposal or motion shall be put to a vote.
Each member of the Commission shall have one vote. In the case of a tie in votes, the Chairperson of the Commission shall have a casting vote.
Rule 52: Required majority
Except as otherwise provided by the African Charter or the present Rules of Procedure, decisions of the Commission shall be taken by a simple majority of the members present and voting.
For the purpose of the Rules of Procedure, the expression “members present and voting” shall mean members voting for or against. The members who shall abstain from voting shall be considered as nonvoting members.
Rule 53: Method of voting
Subject to the provisions of Rule 56 of the present Rules, the Commission, unless it otherwise decides, shall vote by show of hands, but any member may request a rollcall vote, which shall be taken in alphabetical order.
In all the votes by roll-call each member shall reply “yes” or “no” or “abstention”. The vote of each member participating in the ballot shall be recorded in the minutes.
The Commission may decide to hold a secret ballot.
Rule 54: Explanation of vote
Members may make brief statements only for the purpose of explaining their vote, before the beginning of the vote or once the vote has been taken.
 
Rule 55: Rules to be observed while voting
A vote shall not be interrupted except if a member raises a point of order related to the manner in which the voting is being done.
 
Rule 56: Elections
Elections shall be held by secret ballot unless the election is for a post for which only one candidate has been proposed and that candidate has been agreed upon by the members of the Commission.
 
CHAPTER XII: MOTIONS AND PROPOSALS
Rule 57: Division of proposals
Proposals in a motion may be separated if a member so requests. The parts of proposals or amendments that have been adopted shall later be put to a vote as a whole. If all the operative parts of a motion have been rejected, the motion shall be considered to have been rejected as a whole.
 
Rule 58: Order of voting on proposals
If two or more proposals are made on the same matter, the Commission, unless it decides otherwise, shall vote on these proposals in the order in which they were submitted.
After each vote, the Commission may decide whether it shall put the next proposal to a vote.
However, motions which are not on the substance of a proposal shall be voted upon before the said proposals.
CHAPTER XIII: REPORTS OF THE COMMISSION
Rule 59: Activity Reports
The Commission shall submit an Activity Report of its promotion, protection and other activities to each Ordinary Session of the Assembly.
The content of the Activity Report of the Commission to be presented to the Assembly by its Chairperson or his/her representative shall be determined by the Commission.
Once the Activity Report is considered by the Assembly, the Secretary shall publish it, including posting on the website, and shall transmit it to State Parties, African Union organs, National Human Rights Institutions and Civil Society Organizations.
Rule 60: Mission Reports
Upon completion of a Mission, the Secretary shall, within thirty (30) days, draft the mission report in conformity with the Commission’s Guidelines on Mission Reports.
The Secretary shall send the draft Mission Report to all the members of the Commission’s delegation who shall submit their comments within Thirty (30) days.
In the case of a mission for promotion activities, the Secretary shall, after the mission report has been commented upon by the members of the delegation referred to in paragraph 2 of the present Rules, submit the Report incorporating the observations of the members to the Commission for consideration and adoption at its next session.
The adopted mission report shall be sent to the State Party concerned for its comments, to be given within sixty (60) days from the day of receipt of the Report. After sixty days, the Report shall be published with the comments of the State Party , if any.
In the case of a mission for protection activities, the Mission Report shall be sent to the members of the delegation referred to in paragraph 2 of this Rules, as well as to other concerned parties, including any party to a Communication that was a subject of the Mission. The Commission shall consider the comments of these parties when finalizing the Report, especially with regard to any proposal for amicable settlement.
The Report of any protection mission as well as the comments from the State Party concerned and other concerned parties, where applicable, shall be annexed to the Activity Report of the Commission.
Rule 61: Distribution of reports and other official documents
Reports, decisions, session documents and all other official documents of the Commission and its subsidiary mechanisms shall be documents for general distribution unless the Commission decides otherwise. Upon their adoption by the Commission, reports shall be published in accordance with Article 59(2) of the Charter.
Reports and additional information submitted by States Parties under Article 62 of the African Charter shall be documents for general distribution in the Working Languages of the African Union and shall be posted on the Commission’s website as soon as they are received at the Secretariat of the Commission;
The Secretary shall ensure the publication of the Commission’s Activity Report and post it on the website of the Commission after consideration by the Assembly.
CHAPTER XIV: RELATIONSHIPS WITH STATE PARTIES, INTERGOV ERNMENTAL INSTITUTIONS, NA TIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTIONS, NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS, AND OTHER PARTNERS
Rule 62: General Principle
The Commission may invite any State Party, institution, organisation or person capable of enlightening it to participate in its sessions without voting rights.
 
Rule 63: Discussions on Human Rights Situations
In conformity with Rule 32(3) of the present Rules of Procedure, any State Party, African Union organ, specialized agency or body of the United Nations or other organisation recognized by the African Union, national human rights institution with affiliate status, or nongovernmental organisation with observer status, may request that the African Commission include in its agenda for an Ordinary Session a discussion on any human rights issue. Such a request shall be made sixty (60) days in advance of the session at which the discussion is to take place.
Where the discussion requires the presence of other partners and parties, the requesting party shall so indicate in the documents that it presents to the Commission pursuant to Rule 34(2) of the present Rules. If the Bureau of the Commission decides that the participation of additional partners and parties is necessary, it shall invite them to attend and transmit to them all relevant documentation and information on the proposed discussion from the requesting party.
Rule 64: Participation of States Parties
The Commission or its subsidiary mechanisms may invite any State Party to participate in the discussion of any issue that shall be of particular interest to that State.
A State thus invited shall have no voting right, but may submit proposals which may be put to a vote at the request of any member of the Commission or of the subsidiary mechanism concerned.
Rule 65: Participation of specialized agencies, intergovernmental organisations and United Nations bodies
Specialized agencies, intergovernmental organisations and United Nations bodies may take part in the Public Sessions of the Commission.
The Commission may permit representatives of these bodies to make oral or submit written statements during its session.
Pursuant to Articles 45(1) and 46 of the African Charter, the Commission may invite these bodies to submit reports on the implementation of the African Charter in areas of common concern.
The Commission may take part in the activities of specialized agencies, intergovernmental organisations and United Nations bodies and agree through a Memorandum of Understanding on areas of common concern.
Rule 66: Donors
Subject to Article 41 of the Charter, the Commission may negotiate financial agreements with donors. These financial agreements shall be signed by the Secretary after approval by the Bureau. Original copies of such agreements shall be kept at the Secretariat of the Commission.
The Commission shall inform the African Union Commission of any proposal to accept funds from any donor including details of the amount of money to be provided, the project or projects for which the funds are sought and any condition of receipt of such funding.
Such agreements shall specify expected outcomes, monitoring and evaluation of the project funded by the donor.
The Secretary shall prepare and submit reports on the implementation of the agreement to the Commission at each Ordinary Session.
Donors may be invited to attend sessions of the Commission.
Rule 67: National Human Rights Institutions
National Human Rights Institutions established by States Parties and functioning according to internationally and regionally recognized norms and standards may be granted affiliate status with the Commission.
National Human Rights Institutions having affiliate status with the Commission shall enjoy the rights and perform the duties stipulated in the Resolution on the Granting of Affiliate Status to National Human Rights Institutions in Africa.
The African Commission shall grant affiliate status to only one National Human Rights Institution in each State Party.
The African Commission may invite other National Human Rights Institutions that do not meet the criteria provided in paragraphs 1 and 2 of the present Rules to attend its sessions as observers.
Rule 68: Non-governmental organisations
Non-governmental organisations working in the field of human rights in Africa may be granted observer status with the Commission.
Non-governmental organisations having observer status with the Commission shall enjoy the rights and perform the duties stipulated in the Resolution on the Granting of Observer Status.
Non-Governmental organisations with observer status with the Commission shall fulfil their obligations stipulated under the Resolution referred to in paragraph 2 of the present Rules.
Part Two: Promotion Activities
CHAPTER I: GENERAL PROVISIONS
Rule 69: Program of promotion activities
The Commission shall adopt and carry out a program of promotion activities to give effect to its mandate under the African Charter, in accordance with Article 45(1).
 
Rule 70: Promotion missions
The Commission shall carry out promotion missions, to States Parties.
Promotion missions shall be governed by the Commission’s Guidelines for Missions as well as the Format for Pre-mission Reports.
For each promotion mission, the Commission shall develop terms of reference bearing in mind the human rights situation in the country.
Rule 71: Other promotion activities
The Commission shall undertake promotion activities other than promotion missions, including seminars, conferences, symposia etc.
These activities shall be undertaken either on its own or in collaboration with partners.
Where the Commission receives an invitation to participate in any promotion activity, the Secretary shall inform the Bureau immediately, and the latter shall decide on the course of action.
Rule 72: Activity Reports of Commissioners
At each Ordinary Session, each member of the Commission shall submit a written report of his or her promotion activities undertaken during the inter-session.
 
CHAPTER II: THE STATE REPORTING PROCEDURE UNDER ARTICLE 62 OF THE CHARTER
Rule 73: Contents of State Reports
Pursuant to Article 62 of the African Charter and other relevant legal instruments which supplement them, including the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa in its Article 26, States Parties shall submit reports in accordance with the guidelines of the Commission, on the measures they have taken to give effect to the provisions of the African Charter and on the progress they have made. Reports shall indicate the challenges, if any, affecting the implementation of the African Charter and its relevant protocols.
The Secretary to the Commission shall send to States Parties the Guidelines on State Reports.
Rule 74: Transmission of State Reports
Upon receipt of a State Report, the Secretary shall upload the Report on the Commission’s website and indicate when the Report will be examined by the Commission.
Institutions, organizations or any interested party wishing to contribute to the examination of the Report and the human rights situation in the country concerned, shall send their contributions, including shadow reports, to the Secretary at least 60 days prior to the examination of the Report.
The Secretary may also invite specific institutions to submit information relating to the state report within a time limit that he/she may specify.
Rule 75: Consideration of Reports
The Chairperson of the Commission shall, through the Secretary inform States Parties of the opening date and venue of the Session at which their respective reports shall be considered.
States Parties shall be represented in the sessions of the Commission at which their reports are to be considered.
Representatives of States Parties shall respond to the questions prepared by the Commission, and questions of the members of the Commission and provide when necessary, any other information requested during or after the session.
If a State Party fails to send a representative to the session of the Commission at which its report is to be examined, consideration of the report shall be rescheduled for the next session. If, at the said session, the concerned State Party, after due notification, fails to send a representative, the Commission shall consider the State Report.
During the consideration of the state report submitted by a State Party in accordance with Article 62 of the Charter, the Commission shall explore all the pertinent information relating to the human rights situation in the State concerned, including statements and shadow reports from National Human Rights Institutions and NGOs.
Rule 76: Non-submission of Reports
The Commission shall, at the beginning of each year, inform the States Parties which are not up to date with their obligations under Article 62 of the deadlines of their submission of their reports and the date at which they are expected to comply.
At the beginning of each Ordinary Session, the Secretary shall inform the Commission of all cases of non-submission of reports or of additional information requested by the Commission. In such cases, the Chairperson of the Commission may send a reminder, through the Secretary, to the State Party concerned;
The Activity Report of the Commission shall point out the status of initial and Periodic Report of States Parties.
Rule 77: Concluding Observations
The Commission shall, after consideration of the report of a State Party, formulate Concluding Observations.
The Concluding Observations of the Commission shall comply with the Guidelines of the Commission on Concluding Observations.
The Concluding Observations shall be transmitted to the State Party concerned within thirty (30) days after the session at which the Observations were adopted. They shall form part of the Commission’s activity report and be posted on the website of the Commission after the adoption of the Activity Report.
Rule 78: Follow-up of implementation of Concluding Observations of State Reports
In the Concluding Observations, the Commission shall specify, if necessary, the issues that require urgent attention on the part of the State Party. The date of the presentation of the next Periodic Report by the State Party shall be included in the Concluding Observations.
The Members of the Commission shall ensure the follow-up on the implementation of the recommendations from the Concluding Observations within the framework of their promotion activities to the States Parties concerned.
The Commission shall also transmit to the Assembly the observations mentioned in Rule 77(1), with copies of the reports it has received from the States Parties as well as the comments supplied by the latter, if any.
Part Three: PROTECTION ACTIVITIES
CHAPTER I: MATTERS OF EMERGENCY
Rule 79: Decision on Matters of Emergency
The Commission shall treat a situation as a matter of emergency under Article 58(3) of the African Charter, when:
it is one of serious or massive human rights violations;
it presents the danger of irreparable harm or requires urgent action to avoid irreparable damage;
When a situation of emergency arises during a session of the Commission, the decision to treat it as such shall be taken by the Commission.
When a situation arises during the Commission’s inter-session period, the decision to treat it as a matter of emergency shall be taken by the Bureau of the Commission, which shall keep other members of the Commission informed and present a report on the situation at the next session of the Commission.
Rule 80: Action on Matters of Emergency
When the Commission has decided to treat a situation as one of emergency, it shall:
Draw the attention of the Chairperson of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union to the matter in accordance with Article 58(3) of the Charter;
Draw the attention of the Peace and Security Council to the matter in accordance with Article 19 of the Protocol on Peace and Security Council;
Inform the Executive Council;
Inform the Chairperson of the African Union Commission of the matter.
The Commission as well as its subsidiary mechanisms under the Charter and present Rules, shall also take any appropriate action, including Urgent Appeals.
CHAPTER II: PROTECTION MISSIONS
Rule 81: General provisions
If it deems it necessary and advisable, the Commission may carry out a protection mission to a State Party.
States Parties shall provide the Commission with an open invitation for protection missions and respond promptly to any request by the Commission for authorisation to undertake a protection mission.
Any protection mission agreed upon between the Commission and a State Party shall be conducted in accordance with the Commission’s Guidelines for Missions.
The expenses incurred by a mission undertaken at the request of any AU organ shall be borne by such organ.
Rule 82: State Party’s obligations
During a protection mission of the Commission the State Party concerned shall:
Commit itself not to take any kind of reprisal against any persons or entities who provide the mission with information, testimony or evidence;
Guarantee the free movement of the members of the mission throughout the territory of the country, in this regard, provide corresponding facilities, including any necessary internal authorisation;
Provide the mission of the Commission with any document that the latter may consider necessary for the preparation of its reports;
Take necessary security measures to protect members of the delegation and also to guarantee the smooth running of the mission.
CHAPTER III: CONSIDERATION OF COMMUNICATIONS
SECTION 1: GENERAL PROVISION
Rule 83: Records of Communications under Articles 47, 48, 49 and 55 of the Charter
The Commission shall receive or note as the case may be, Communications or notifications under Articles 47, 48, 49 and 55 of the Charter.
The Secretary shall maintain a record of each Communication, with a reference number, the names of the parties, the date of registration or notification, and the date of decision or closure of each Communication.
Rule 84: Situation of serious or massive violation of human rights
When the Commission considers that one or more Communications relate to a series of serious or massive human rights violations, it shall bring the matter to the attention of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.
The Commission may also, in conformity with Article 5 of the African Court Protocol and Rule 118(3) of the present Rules of Procedure, refer the matter to the African Court.
Rule 85: Other interventions
The Commission may decide to solicit or accept interventions by parties other than the Complainant and the Respondent State that it considers could provide it with information relevant to making a decision on a Communication.
 
SECTION 2: CONSIDERATION OF COMMUNICATIONS RECEIVED IN CONFORMITY WITH ARTICLE 47 OF THE CHARTER: COMMUNICATIONSNEGOTIATIONS OF STATES PARTIES
Rule 86: Submission of a Communication
A Communication under Article 47 of the Charter shall be submitted to the Chairperson, through the Secretary of the Commission.
The Communication referred to above shall be in writing and shall contain a comprehensive statement of the facts as well as the provisions of the African Charter alleged to have been violated.
Notification of the Communication to the State Party concerned, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Chairperson of the Commission shall be done through the most practical and reliable means.
The Secretary to the Commission shall, on behalf of the Chairperson, acknowledge receipt, by note verbale, receipt of the Communication and request the parties to keep the Commission informed of developments which could arise within the framework of ongoing negotiations.
SECTION 3: CONSIDERATION OF COMMUNICATIONS RECEIVED UNDER ARTICLES 48 & 49 OF THE CHARTER: COMMUNICATIONS - COMPLAINTS OF STATES PARTIES
Rule 87: Seizure of the Commission
Any Communication under Articles 48 and 49 of the Charter may be submitted to the Chairperson of the Commission through the Secretary by an interested State Party.
The Communication shall contain information on the following or be accompanied particularly by:
Measures taken to resolve the issue pursuant to Article 47 of the African Charter including the text of the initial communication and any subsequent written explanation from the interested States Parties relating to the issue;
Measures taken to exhaust regional or international procedures of settlement or good offices;
Any other procedure of international investigation or international settlement to which the interested States Parties have resorted.
Rule 88: Consideration of the Communication
Where, pursuant to Articles 48 and 49 of the African Charter, a Communication is brought before the Commission by a State Party, the Chairperson of the Commission, through the Secretary, shall give notice of such Communication to the State Party against which the complaint is made and shall invite it to submit to the Commission its observations in writing on the admissibility of the Communication within ninety (90) days. The observations so obtained in writing shall be immediately communicated to the complaining State Party, which shall respond within ninety (90) days of receipt of the observations.
The Commission shall designate one or more of its members as Rapporteur for the Communication.
Rapporteurs, through the Secretary, may:
Request relevant information on matters connected with the Communication from the States Parties concerned. Such information shall be provided by both parties within ninety (90) days of receipt of such request;
Transmit any information obtained from one party to the other for comments. The parties shall be given ninety (90) days to respond to the observations made by the other party.
Prior to the session at which the Communication is to be considered, the Rapporteurs shall prepare a report on the admissibility of the Communication. Such report shall contain:
The relevant facts, including any information or comments obtained under paragraph 3 of this Rule;
The provision(s) of the African Charter alleged to have been violated in the Communication;
A recommendation on admissibility and on any other action to be taken, as the case may require.
Before deciding upon the admissibility of the Communication, the Commission may invite the parties to submit further observations in writing and shall fix a time limit of ninety (90) days for the submission of these observations. The written observations or information shall be transmitted to the opposing party.
The Commission may also allow the parties to make additional observations orally.
Rule 89: Decision on admissibility
The Commission shall consider the report of the Rapporteurs, decide on the admissibility of the Communication, and shall inform the parties accordingly.
The Commission shall give reasons for its decision on admissibility.
Rule 90: Amicable settlement
When the Commission declares that a Communication is admissible, it shall place its good offices at the disposal of the interested States Parties with the objective of reaching an amicable settlement under the terms of the African Charter.
For the purpose of the Commission’s good offices, the Bureau of the Commission shall establish contact with the relevant authorities of the States Parties.
The Bureau shall report its findings and recommendations to the Commission at the Commission’s next session.
The Commission shall thereafter decide on the appropriate action to take, which may include the following:
appointing a Rapporteur;
convening, in consultation with the States Parties concerned, meetings with the aim of achieving an amicable settlement of the dispute;
Facilitating the drafting of a Memorandum of Understanding, when the parties accept the principle of an amicable settlement, containing the terms of settlement being proposed having regard to the progress made.
In the case of acceptance of the draft Memorandum of Understanding, the States Parties concerned shall sign the agreement under the auspices of the Commission.
The Rapporteur shall then prepare a draft report, which shall be submitted to the Commission for adoption at its next session.
When adopted, the report shall be sent to the States Parties concerned and communicated to the Assembly.
The Commission, through the Rapporteur shall then follow-up on monitoring the implementation of the terms of the agreement and report on the said implementation to each subsequent Ordinary Session of the Commission until the settlement is concluded. Such a report shall form part of the Activity Report of the Commission to the Assembly
Rule 91: Failure to settle the dispute amicably
If the amicable settlement of the dispute fails, the Commission shall request the States Parties concerned to provide, within a period of thirty (30) days, their written submissions.
The Commission shall communicate any information obtained from one party to the other for comments. The States Parties concerned shall be given thirty (30) days to respond.
The Rapporteur shall prepare a report containing the facts, findings and recommendations for consideration by the Commission.
Before adopting the report of the Rapporteur, the Commission may convene a hearing at which it may allow the parties to make additional oral observations.
Rule 92: Decision of the Commission
Within twelve months of receipt of a Communication, the Commission shall adopt a decision, prepare a report and make recommendations, pursuant to Article 53 of the African Charter following the notification referred to in Article 48 of the African Charter and the present Rules of Procedure.
The report of the Commission on the Communication shall be communicated to the States Parties concerned through the Secretary.
The report of the Commission on the communication shall be submitted as part of the Commission’s Activity Report to the Assembly.
SECTION 4: CONSIDERATION OF COMMUNICATIONS RECEIVED IN CONFORMITY WITH ARTICLE 55 OF THE AFRICAN CHARTER: OTHER COMMUNICATIONS
Sub-Section 1: General Provisions
Rule 93: Seizure of the Commission
A Communication submitted under Article 55 of the African Charter may be addressed to the Chairperson of the Commission through the Secretary by any natural or legal person.
The Secretary shall ensure that Communications addressed to the Commission contain the following information:
The name, nationality and signature of the person or persons filing it; or in cases where the Complainant is a non-governmental entity, the name and signature of its legal representative(s);
Whether the Complainant wishes that his or her identity be withheld from the State;
The address for receiving correspondence from the Commission and, if available, a telephone number, facsimile number, and email address;
An account of the act or situation complained of, specifying the place, date and nature of the alleged violations;
The name of the victim, in a case where he or she is not the Complainant;
Any public authority that has taken cognisance of the fact or situation alleged;
The name of the State(s) alleged to be responsible for the violation of the African Charter, even if no specific reference is made to the article(s) alleged to have been violated;
Compliance with the period prescribed in the African Charter for submission of the Communication;
Any steps taken to exhaust domestic remedies, or if the applicant alleges the impossibility or unavailability of domestic remedies, the grounds in support of such allegation; and
An indication that the complaint has not been submitted to another international settlement proceeding as provided in Article 56(7) of the Af

The detailed activities and procedures of the Commission are regulated by its Rules of Procedure. 

The Commission adopted its first Rules of Procedure in 1988, during its 2nd Ordinary Session held in Dakar (Senegal) from February 2 to 13, 1988.

The Rules were amended revised during its 18th ordinary session held in Praia (Cape-Vert) from 2 to 11 October 1995.

With the advent of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Commission developed new Rules of Procedure. These Rules were approved by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights during its 47th ordinary session held in Banjul (The Gambia) from 12 to 26 May and entered into force on 18 August 2010.