Special Issue Open Access: The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance at Ten+

07.06.2019 // By T.Netshivhale

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Special Issue Open Access

In 2007, the African Union (AU) adopted the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG), a unique legal instrument aimed at improving the African governance landscape and addressing the daunting challenges posed by civil wars, coups d’état, gross human rights violations and election related violence.

Over the course of its 10+ year of existence, fascinating developments, challenges and questions have emerged, some of which were arguably not anticipated by its drafters. For example, who envisaged that the ACDEG might become a justiciable instrument before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights? In the wake of popular uprisings in response to gross undemocratic practices including presidential term limit manipulation, what normative guidance does the ACDEG offer in response to such developments?

In this Special Issue we bring together expertise from practitioners and academics, most of whom have combined their legal authority with active engagement in key AU institutions, such as the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Union Commission.

The special issue is available for free here.  
 
Under the open access license, the articles may be freely downloaded even without a journal subscription. They may also be freely shared and therefore they can be easily used as background material for activities to raise awareness about the ACDEG or as part of relevant student reading lists.
 

The Charter's "Biography"

What are the origins of the Charter, how has it been implemented over the past decade and what factors will shape its future?
Read here


Justiciable instrument?

Justice and Vice-President Ben Kioko of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights finds that individuals and NGOs can seek the enforcement of the ACDEG in African Courts.
Read here.

Human rights instrument?

What is a human rights instrument? Which elements in the ACDEG clearly relate to human rights? And, what is the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights' approach on the issue? Former Justice and President Gérard Niyungeko investigates.
Read here.
 

Right to resist?

In response to gross violations of their democracy-related rights, African citizens have increasingly resorted to popular uprisings. Former Commissioner Pacifique Manirakiza of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights asks if the ACDEG enshrines the right to do so.
Read here.
 

Popular uprisings

Popular uprisings have presented serious challenges to the African Union's democratic and constitutional governance norms. Commissioner Solomon Dersso of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights contends that, while they are not a priori deemed constitutional, there are legal avenues that offer constitutional legitimacy.
Read here (open access in 2020).
 

Presidential term limits

This article investigates AU responses to one of the most tenacious constitutional trends in Africa: constitutional manipulation to overturn or weaken presidential term limits. Micha Wiebusch and Christina Murray draw on the AU’s existing law, policy and practice to propose continental guidelines to address “undemocratic changes of the constitution”.
Read here.
 

Conclusion

This special issue offers many new theoretical and policy-oriented insights. Hopefully they will stimulate reflection and debate, and help equip policy makers, practitioners and academics working in the areas of democratization, rule of law, human rights and development in Africa to address the multifaceted challenges of making the ACDEG’s objectives a reality across the continent.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance at 10. Micha Wiebusch, Chika Charles Aniekwe, Lutz Oette, Stef Vandeginste. Read here.
 

The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance: Past, Present and Future. Micha Wiebusch, Chika Charles Aniekwe, Lutz Oette, Stef Vandeginste. Read here.
 

The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance as a Justiciable Instrument. Ben Kioko. Read here.
 

The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance as a Human Rights Instrument.  Gérard Niyungeko. Read here.
 

Towards a Right to Resist Gross Undemocratic Practices in Africa. Pacifique Manirakiza. Read here.
 

The Status and Legitimacy of Popular Uprisings in the AU Norms on Democracy and Constitutional Governance. Solomon A Dersso. Read here. (Open Access May 2020)
 

Presidential Term Limits and the African Union. Micha Wiebusch, Christina Murray. Read here.

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