Toward a More Effective Guarantee of Women's Rights in the African Human Rights System
This chapter is intended to contribute modestly toward the effective protection of the rights of women under the African Charter of Human and Peoples' Rights 1981 (the African Charter).1 This Charter was adopted under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity in 1981, and came into force in 1986. It establishes human rights standards of regional application and a machinery for the protection of human rights in Africa.
A notable significance of the adoption of the Charter by African states is that human rights is not a foreign concept in Africa. Moreover, as a human rights instrument, the Charter contains regional standards of conduct by African states in the matter of human rights. By establishing human rights standards relating to the performance of African domestic legal systems, the essence of the Charter is that the relationship between African states and populations within their territories is not an exclusive function of domestic jurisdiction. The latter is a relative concept fettered by international standards of human rights, both of regional and international scope.
Some aspects of the Charter provide evidence of acceptance of general human rights standards in Africa. This is true where the Charter embodies standards 2 which are also contained in other human rights instruments, especially those of general international scope. The fact that such standards are carried in several instruments denotes that they are generally accepted and may have a particular status within general international law. In the context of the rights of women, such stan