Driven by the desire to protect and lead the human development of the African populations, a continental organ, established by Article 30 of the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights: the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, was created to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in Africa, a mandate that affects lives, future and expression of millions of Africans.
That collective concern raise interest for commitment, engagement, patriotism and collaboration.
The Commission monitors State compliance with the African Charter, primarily by establishing special mechanisms, considering State reports, carrying out fact-finding and promotional missions to States parties, and adjudicating individual and State complaints under the Charter.
The mandate of the Commission is divided into four main activities: 1) To interpret all provisions of the Charter; 2) To promote human and peoples’ rights; 3) To protect the rights contained in the African Charter. 4) To perform any other task assigned to the African Commission by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
For the Promotion of Human and Peoples’ Rights
The promotional function of the Commission is explained in article 45 (1) of the Charter. The main essence of this function is to sensitise the population and disseminate information on human and peoples’ rights in Africa. That is to educate peoples and communities to human rights. As educated people are strong and effective people, useful ffor the develpoment of their communities.
To achieve this, the Commission is mandated under article 45 (1) to ‘collect document, undertake studies and researches on African problems in the field of human and peoples’ rights, organise seminars, symposia and conferences, disseminate information, encourage national and local institutions concerned with human and peoples’ rights and, should the case arise, give its views or make recommendations to governments’.
For the Protection of Human and People’s Rights
The second principal functions assigned to the Commission by the African Charter is stipulated in article 45 (2) as: ‘to ensure the protection of human and peoples’ rights under conditions laid down in the present Charter’. Thats is to undertake any action as judicial
The protective mandate, requires the Commission to take measure to ensure that the citizens enjoy the rights contained in the Charter. This entails ensuring that the States do not violate these rights and if they do, that the victims are reinstated in their rights.
To achieve this, the Charter provides for the ‘communication procedure’. This procedure is a complaint system through which an individual, NGO or group of individuals who feel that their right or those of others have been or are being violated, can petition (complain) to the Commission about these violations.
For the Interpretation of the provisions of the Charter
Article 45 (3) of the Charter also mandates the Commission to interpret the provisions of the Charter at the request of a state party, an institution of the AU or an African Organisation recognised by the AU. To date, neither the AU nor a state party to the Charter has approached the Commission for an interpretation of any of the provisions of the Charter.
This structural mechanism embodies the African Commission influence and power to address human rights issues throughout the African continent. This huge tasks could not be fulfilled effectively by the Commission without the support and engagement of Civil Society Organizations which lead the daily work ofr the protection and promotion of human rights. It is a continental concern and a personal task that every citizen on the continent should bear in mind and translate into action for change.
With a clear and concise mandate stated and accepted by the States Parties, the domestication of its mechanisms, acts, reports and recommendations should be integrated into natinoal policies for human rights dimension inclusion in development and growth.
For a sustainable action plan and lasting impact for future generations, it is important to undertake massive awarness campaign about this continental organ and highlight at various level the importance to consider engagement with the African Commission.