The role of non-governmental organisations in advancing good governance and development through regional institutions in Africa

Authors: Chebo Tamajong Nfor, Atupele Masangala, Julieth Gudo

ISSN: 2521-2605
Affiliations: LLLB, LLM, PhD candidate (UCT), postgraduate teaching assistant and researcher at the Centre for Comparative Law in Africa, Department of Commercial Law, UCT; LLM, LLB (Honours), law lecturer, University of Malawi;PhD Law, LLM, LLB, postdoctoral research fellow, Centre for Comparative Law in Africa, Faculty of Law, UCT
Source: Journal of Comparative Law in Africa, Volume 9 Issue 2, p. 71 – 101


Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Africa, as people’s representatives, play an essential role in advancing good governance, human rights and development on the continent. They have cemented their role alongside international and regional institutions, organisations and state governments. NGOs have made extensive contributions to democracy and development in Africa. They have a history of challenging poor governance and human rights contraventions, and advancing development on the continent through regional institutions such as regional courts, regional bodies and other regional networks. However, these roles have not been critically studied. There is a lack of in-depth analysis of the different methods used by NGOs in promoting good governance and development through African regional institutions. This paper identifies and examines the various tools that NGOs employ in advancing good governance and development on the continent. The paper discusses the recognition of NGOs by regional institutions and how international and regional law protects their involvement in and participation on the continent. It further outlines how NGOs have used various regional legal institutions and other regional bodies to protect the rights and interests of the people. The paper demonstrates that while the role of NGOs in advancing good governance and development on the continent is progressive, many challenges hinder this role, such as stringent rules for eligibility and application to implement certain functions, lack of access to key resources that facilitate their participation and lack of clarity on the legal instruments that govern NGOs.