The roots of the African human rights system lie in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. In many respects, the Charter came about as a compromise between a genuine attempt to curtail state sovereignty in order to enhance rights protection, on the one hand, and efforts to construct a human rights friendly façade to deflect criticism, strengthen international legitimacy and facilitate donor funding, on the other. Some significant developments have taken place over the past 25 years, resulting in an expansion of the norms and institutions making up the African regional system of human rights promotion and protection. At the same time, the African system has been facing and still faces a number of challenges. This article aims to provide a brief overview of some of the most salient advances, over a quarter of a decade, in particular as they relate to individual communications dealt with by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

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