Supporting the Mandate of the African Court

There is much work to be done on all fronts. The African Court, African Commission, AU, States, civil society, academia, and other stakeholders all have a role to play in ensuring that the African Court has a future in protecting and enforcing human rights on the continent. Mobilising existing networks of stakeholders will be essential to supporting the African Court in the future, but also to holding it to account. Lessons should be learnt from the experiences of other regional human rights courts, and especially amongst Africa’s human rights institutions. The complementarity between the African Court and African Commission must be strengthened, and the subsidiarity of the African Court vis-à-vis national courts needs to be better explained during sensitisation missions. In addition, the AU needs to take a more pro-active role when the authority and jurisdiction of the African Court is challenged. For the AU to promote ‘African solutions to African problems’ there indeed need to be credible and fully functional African solutions to human rights violations, such as the African Court. Finally, the Court also needs to bear in mind its limitations. As the primary judicial organ of the AU it has power, but it is also hamstrung in political settings. Consequently, the Court needs to be strategic in mobilising and drawing on allies and different actors that can work on its behalf, especially within States, to ensure the continued protection and enforcement of human rights within the AU.