The Approach of African Human Rights Treaty Bodies to International Humanitarian Law: Normative Basis and Institutional Practice

Authors Brian Sang YK

ISSN: 2521-2621
Affiliations: Egerton University
Source: African Yearbook on International Humanitarian Law, 2017, p. 1 – 36


Unlike comparable human rights systems, there is scant literature on how the African system interacts with international humanitarian law (IHL). This article contributes toward filling this gap by assessing how and to what extent African human rights treaty bodies have been or can be utilised to induce compliance with IHL. It analyses legal and institutional bases for engagement with IHL, as reflected in the work of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, as well as the future role of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. It argues that the African human rights system can strengthen the implementation of IHL because most African Union-based legal instruments integrate human rights law and IHL, thus providing an enabling normative basis for the respective human rights treaty bodies to have regard to IHL. Yet the practice of African treaty bodies demonstrates that this advantage is under-utilised by the lack of systematic articulation of the effect of the IHL/human rights law relation and inconsistent approaches to engaging with IHL.