Africa

 

Recent developments in the UN Human Rights Council offer new opportunities to combat racism and police brutality

By: Peter Splinter
Español

Time will tell whether Resolution 43/1 will dispose Human Rights Council membership to address situations of gross and systematic violations in other countries ...

Can the virtual sessions of the African Commission generate more civil society participation?

By: Japhet Biegon
Français

The first ever virtual session, triggered by a pandemic, may have just heralded a potential future of more accessible and inclusive ACHPR sessions.

Can the African regional human rights system preserve ESC rights in a pandemic?

By: Stanley Ibe
Français

Many states still fail to realize that protecting the rights of the poor will ultimately make addressing a pandemic—and other global crises—easier.

A feminist vision to address labour exploitation in Ethiopia

By: Sehin Teferra
Français

Ethiopia needs a stand-alone feminist campaign calling for a new vision of job creation that prioritizes dignified work and decent wages for both men and women.

From Toyi-toyi to “I Can’t Breathe”: African lessons in protest and liberation

By: Emerson Sykes
Español

Americans seeking racial justice can learn a lot about protest and liberation from Africans.

Litigation to challenge large extractive projects is gaining traction in Africa

By: Pooven Moodley
Español

Communities in Africa are increasingly using litigation to challenge large extractive projects that exacerbate the climate emergency and loss of biodiversity.

How can national human rights institutions improve access to remedy for rights abuses?

By: Nora Götzmann & Sébastien Lorion
Español | Français

New data from Africa provides insights into the role of national human rights institutions in access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses.

Making a Community Action Net (work): organising in the times of COVID-19

By: Ella Scheepers & Ishtar Lakhani & Kasey Armstrong
Français | Español

Community Action Networks in South Africa bring residents from varied backgrounds into collective action to find solutions to COVID-related issues.

Using legal empowerment to fight exploitative land investors in Sierra Leone

By: Hassan Sesay & Daniel Sesay
Español | Français

Legal empowerment helps locals to understand and claim their rights, resulting in a legal victory for communities in Sierra Leone against exploitative corporations.

Challenging the oil industry through community action in Western Uganda

By: Wangũi wa Kamonji
Español | Português

One women’s group in Uganda is showing that solidarity, community and the determination to sustain generative ways of life can be unstoppable, even in the face ...

Indigenous women in Kenya rebuild resilience amidst an eco-cultural crisis

By: Wangũi wa Kamonji
Español | Português

In the face of growing climate change, indigenous women in Kenya are remembering and reinstating their native agricultural practices, to build resilience and reclaim ...

How do treaty bodies respond to situations of crisis such as Burundi?

By: Armel Niyongere
Español | Français

Treaty bodies showed their ability to take the right measures in situations of crisis like in Burundi. A coordination with the high-level bodies of the United Nations, ...

Economic and social rights force us to pressure a return to the state

By: Katharine G. Young
Español | Français

Constitutional entrenchment is only part of the battle for recognition of economic and social rights, as many South African cases have made clear.

Intellectual property as a tool of empowerment

By: Sarah Yookyung Kim
Español | Français

When much broader communities can harness intellectual property rights, these shifts can contribute to reducing inequality and improving the standard of life for ...

The fight for “fun”damental rights for sex workers in South Africa

By: Ishtar Lakhani
Español | Français

Humour is one of the most effective tools in our activist arsenal, because it has the ability to bring people together from a space of shared connection rather ...

Strategic litigation in a perfect storm—South Africa

By: Jason Brickhill
Español | isiXhosa

The courts have done much in South Africa to advance human rights and promote equality, but in what remains a grossly unequal society they can only do so much.

A hashtag that inspired hope: #GambiaHasDecided

By: Salieu Taal
Français | Español

A movement that started as a simple hashtag, declaring that #GambiaHasDecided, is bringing a fresh wave of optimism and hope to political turmoil in the Gambia.

Human rights—tackling inequality by catalyzing the agents of social change

By: Jackie Dugard
Español | Français

Some argue human rights are insufficient to tackle inequality but overlook the emancipatory power of rights—to create the space to mobilize for change, a dynamic ...

A tech solution to documenting sexual violence

By: Suzanne Kidenda & Katy Johnson
Español | Français

A simple app, developed in close co-operation with clinicians, police and other end-users, is making it easier to effectively document and prosecute sexual assault ...

Despite record inequality, UK and EU won’t challenge Swaziland’s monarch

By: Sunit Bagree

The UK and EU are ignoring Swaziland’s threats to human rights and civic space, refusing to hold the monarchy to account.

Illegal logging fuels conflict and violence against women in South Sudan

By: Caroline Kiarie-Kimondo

Mismanagement of timber resources and illegal logging are exacerbating South Sudan’s conflict and destroying the environment, and women are the most severely affected.

Community participation in the face of gatekeeping: lessons from Kenya

By: Collins Liko
Español

Cartels in Kenya are controlling public resources and access to information, but community mobilization is starting to change this power dynamic.

DNA testing can help – and hinder – sexual violence prosecutions

By: Karen Naimer
Español | Français

DNA technology in sexual violence cases can strengthen investigations and prosecutions, but training on how to collect and preserve evidence is equally important ...

Empowering language of rights underlies increasing use in HIV advocacy

By: Kristi Heather Kenyon
Setswana | Zulu

Local HIV activists are expanding human rights discourse into health advocacy, largely due to belief in the empowering impact of rights language, not expectations ...

As NGOs speak out, expect clampdowns to grow

By: David Kode
Español

Governments from Uganda to Poland are silencing activists and organizations that criticize them—what can these NGOs do to fight back?

Building up vs. trickling down: human rights in Southern Africa

By: Kristi Heather Kenyon
Español | Setswana | Zulu

Do we achieve human rights by enacting UN-sanctioned treaties at the legislative level, or at the grassroots level? The history and culture of each country may ...

Using community-led activism and public opinion to stop harmful development

By: John Mwebe & Preksha Kumar

Several investment banks recently withdrew from a project in Malawi due to community-led activism and research on the inherent risks of the proposed plan.

Human rights justice requires corporate information sharing

By: Audrey Gaughran

Legal reform is needed to ensure that victims of human rights abuses have access to the relevant information they need to challenge corporations.

Court judgements are shaking political foundations—and upholding rights

By: James A. Goldston
Español

In Kenya, Guatemala and Brazil, courts have defied presidents and shaken up politics—is court-centric advocacy one of the few remaining avenues to legitimately ...

Why an anti-ICC narrative may help Kenyan leaders win votes

By: Geoff Dancy

Anti-ICC narratives resonate with a crucial minority of Kenyan citizens, but not with victims of political violence.

How to confront restrictive legislation in Nigeria

By: Victoria Ohaeri
Français

Linking online campaigns to offline action has become critical in challenging closing spaces in Nigeria.

A levy in the African Union could be a step towards independence

By: Amandine Rushenguziminega
Français

A new levy in the African Union could lead to more financial independence—but who is funding human rights?

Ready for anything: how preparation can improve trauma recovery

By: Zelalem Kibret
العربية

When in the field, human rights workers must be better prepared for trauma in order to heal from it.

Fighting stigma: protecting the mental health of African rights advocates

By: Douglas Mathew Mawadri
Français | العربية

Human rights advocates in Africa face significant challenges in getting past mental health stigmas in order to get help.

Looking deeper to understand African governments’ opposition to the ICC

By: Ayodele Akenroye

African governments are withdrawing from the ICC with valid criticisms—but what can be done to make the Court less imbalanced?

Opportunities for resistance: Trump’s authoritarianism and the law

By: Stuart Wilson

Human rights values and rule of law are lost on authoritarians, but the need to clothe their action in forms of law is not.

An elusive justice—holding parent companies accountable for human rights abuse

By: Joe Westby
Español

A UK judgement on Shell’s operations in Nigeria yet again shows the need to prevent powerful multinationals hiding behind their subsidiaries to dodge accountability ...

“Quit before they get hit”: withdrawals from the ICC are an indicator of the Court’s success

By: Chris Dolan

Are presidents who seek to withdraw from the ICC in denial about a rare instance of achieved gender equality?

The complex reality beyond the trial of Dominic Ongwen

By: Sarah Kihika Kasande & Virginie Ladisch

Dominic Ongwen faces trial at the ICC for crimes of which he was also a victim—forcing us to reevaluate dichotomies of guilt and innocence.

The ICC needs to ally with victims

By: Reed Brody
Français

To survive the current crisis, the ICC must recruit its most persuasive allies—the victims of atrocity crimes themselves.

How we talk about mass violence: the cultural effects of Darfur campaigns

By: Joachim J. Savelsberg 

When NGOs alter their narratives of mass violence depending on the cultural characteristics of each country, which version dominates?

A string of departures from the ICC is ringing alarm bells

By: James A. Goldston

Three African states have pulled out of the ICC with other departures in the works, putting ICC legitimacy in crisis.

Blame South Sudanese leadership, not George Clooney

By: Majak D’Agoôt & Remember Miamingi

The crisis in South Sudan is a result of its current leadership – the country wasn’t doomed to fail – and its people welcome celebrities like George Clooney who ...

Letter to George Clooney

By: Rita Abrahamsen

Celebrity activism risks reducing complex political issues to simple morality tales, leading to emotional politics and irresponsible interventions.

New Katanga trial shows DRC’s potential to try complex international crimes

By: Paul Seils & Myriam Raymond-Jetté 

A DRC warlord convicted by the ICC will now also face prosecution by national courts in the DRC—an enormously welcome step.

Rethinking what ICC success means at the Bemba Trial

By: Valerie Arnould
Français

When measuring ICC success, we need to examine the local impact and not just the international effects.

To implement Agenda 2030 in Africa, people must be at the centre

By: Charles Kojo Vandyck  & Maame Darkwaa Twum Barima

Increasing threats to citizens’ freedoms will derail the sustainable development goals.

For sexual minorities, “closing space” for civil society means losing access to critical services

By: David Kuria Mbote
Français

Closing space for African sexual and gender minority groups is about far more than advocacy—it is about accessing critical services that no one else provides.

Lessons from Kenya: unpacking the ICC’s deterrent effect

By: Yvonne M. Dutton  & Tessa Alleblas

Although recent empirical work suggests that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has a deterrent effect, Kenya’s experience requires a deeper look.

Revising perceptions of the rights of older people in Africa

By: Jamillah Mwanjisi

A new African treaty promises to protect the human rights of the elderly.

Do South Africans really have the right to protest?

By: Julian Brown 

South Africans’ right to protest exists on paper, but authorities have effectively suppressed dissent by making it too dangerous.

In for the long haul: a creative fight for space in Kenya

By: Ezra Mbogori 
Français

What started as a “one time” reform exercise has turned into a long-term battle for Kenyan civil society.

In the name of security: when silencing active citizens creates even greater problems

By: Iva Dobichina & Poonam Joshi
Español

Silencing activists in the name of security can stifle actors most likely to challenge extremist ideologies, making insecurity worse.

Refugee protection is politics

By: Roni Amit & Loren B. Landau
Français

The best refugee legislation in the world will have little effect when those seeking protection are characterized as security risks.

Running the numbers on ICC deterrence: when does it actually work?

By: Hyeran Jo & Beth A. Simmons
Español

Systematic assessments reveal that the ICC can deter intentional civilian killing, but only under the right conditions.

Without addressing women’s security, we can’t hope for equality

By: Amrita Kapur
Español

Understanding why and how insecurity affects women is key to overcoming inequality across all dimensions of empowerment.

End the attacks—protecting the rights of persons with albinism

By: Ikponwosa Ero 
Kiswahili

A newly appointed UN expert sets out a plan to protect the rights of persons with albinism.

Côte d’Ivoire: The International Criminal Court with its back against the wall

By: Eric-Aimé Semien
Français

Four years after the ICC's intervention in Ivory Coast, opinions are still divided regarding its impact

What do South Africans really think about sexual orientation and gender identity?

By: Carla Sutherland 

South Africa stands apart from the criminalization of homosexuality in Africa, but without surveys, we still don’t know the public’s opinion.

ICC success depends on its impact locally

By: Elizabeth Evenson
Français

Delivering justice for victims is the raison d’etre of the ICC. But making justice count for victims requires much more than fair trials in a Hague courtroom.

Law and politics at the International Criminal Court

By: Benson Chinedu Olugbuo

The ICC should be above politics, but some of the rules found in the Rome Statute make that difficult.

The realpolitik of rights and democracy

By: Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua

What happens when human rights and democracy do not only advance Western foreign policy, but also contribute to producing, not reducing, poverty?

Internationalisation: lessons from the women’s movement

By: Muthoni Muriithi
Français

The internationalisation debate can learn a lot from women’s movements in terms of opening spaces and opportunities for the voiceless.

Do African rights groups have the “how” to internationalise?

By: Charles Kojo Vandyck 

Internationalising human rights work in Africa will always be a distant dream unless rights groups operate beyond survivability.

The Ongwen trial at the ICC: tough questions on child soldiers

By: Mark Drumbl
Español | العربية

LRA commander and former child soldier Dominic Ongwen’s forthcoming trial at the ICC risks obscuring the complex question of how to achieve justice when a victim ...

Religion inspires in ways that international law does not

By: Abadir M. Ibrahim
العربية

Using extreme examples to justify a purely secular human rights approach does a disservice to the many religious leaders doing progressive work.

The ICC’s deterrent impact – what the evidence shows

By: Geoff Dancy & Bridget Marchesi & Florencia Montal & Kathryn Sikkink
Español | Français

Despite increased criticism against the International Criminal Court, new evidence suggests that the Court may be having a real deterrent impact.

Don’t ditch the “local” when scrambling to “go global”

By: Stanley Ibe
Español | Français | العربية

We cannot afford to globalize human rights at the expense of local context. To be sustainable and effective, local activists must lead and adapt human rights initiatives ...

The ICC and beyond: tipping the scales of international justice

By: Ottilia Anna Maunganidze

International Criminal Court developments in 2014 have certainly been important, but we must also look to key events in regional and national institutions that ...

Tradition should defer to human rights, not the other way around

By: Leo Igwe

‘Traditional African ways’ is not a monolith. It has evolved over time and must evolve again to adapt to human rights. Human rights should not defer to tradition ...

Throwing justice under the bus is not the way to go

By: Richard Dicker
Français

Past experience suggests warnings that international criminal trials impede peace efforts are overblown. The ICC prosecutor mustn’t politicize her mandate by paying ...

Justice denied? The ICC’s record in the DRC

By: Pascal Kambale
Français

The ICC has pursued the "small fish" in the DRC, letting those most responsible for the worst crimes off the hook.

Beyond foreign funding – selling human rights in Africa

By: Charles Kojo Vandyck 
Español | Français

Human rights groups can survive in the current funding climate if they shift their focus towards locally driven funding resources.

The politics of impunity little impacted by the ICC

By: Sarah Nouwen
Español

The intervention of the ICC in some countries has many effects, but little impact on promoting real accountability – and at times working against that goal.

‘Sovereignty’ no defence against ICC action in Sudan

By: Kamal Elgizouli
Español | العربية

Respect for ‘sovereignty’ is no defence against ICC action in Sudan, as the government claims. International standards, many that Sudan signed, make clear a state’s ...

Filling the gap: why prayer camps in Ghana are sometimes the only option

By: Abamfo Ofori Atiemo
Français

Human Rights Watch’s scathing critique of Ghana’s prayer camps misses the point. For many people struggling with mental illness and social stigmatization, the camps ...

The International Criminal Court in Africa: a failed experiment?

By: Mwangi S. Kimenyi

Africa can benefit greatly from an International Criminal Court that is credible, fair, competent and independent - the current Court fails on all counts.

The ICC mustn’t give up in Kenya

By: Njonjo Mue
Kiswahili

While the ICC has encountered serious challenges in Kenya, the Court has an important role to play in strengthening Kenyan rule of law and holding elites to account.

The ICC – breach in the dyke, or high water mark?

By: David Petrasek
Français

The International Criminal Court has failed to live up to expectations that it would mark the end of impunity. Beset by controversy, and its continued relevance ...

The (in)human dimension of Ghana’s prayer camps

By: Shantha Rau Barriga
Français

Ambamfo Ofori Atiemo says that prayer camps in Ghana deserve a closer look, as they are a supposedly compassionate, faith-based response to mental disability. Human ...

Should it matter how the mass is mobilized?

By: Kechi Nomu
Français

On the streets of Nigeria, what seems like the “voice of the people” is often just unquestioning followers, echoing the opinions of religious leaders. The human ...

Preaching for human rights

By: Beatrice Lamwaka
Français

Human rights advocates must take their message to street corners, like preachers, and teach the people love for everyone, irrespective of race, tribe and sexual ...

Pentecostal Christianity: retrogressive force or dynamic ally?

By: Richard L. Wood
Español | Français

Pentecostal Christianity is one of the fastest growing religious forces in the world. Although many secular human rights activists view Pentecostalism as retrogressive, ...

A tax on texting? Getting creative with funding human rights in Africa

By: Selemani Kinyunyu
Français

For too long, the African Union and its human rights bodies have depended on foreign aid. If the Union implements a radical new financing tax on airline tickets, ...

Whose faith wins? Keeping religion out of the law

By: Geraldyn Ezeakile
Français

Religion may help to control behavior and justify human worth and dignity, but in Nigeria, the co-existence of Sharia law with English Common Law has had serious ...

In Africa, human rights and religion often go together

By: Abamfo Ofori Atiemo
Français

In Africa and other regions in the global South, religion and human rights support similar values. For years, religion has helped disenfranchised groups the way ...

Faith and health care in Africa: a complex reality

By: Jill Olivier
Français | العربية

It’s time to move past overly simplistic arguments surrounding Catholics and condoms, and make an effort to understand the real and very complex contributions of ...

Kenyan rights groups under fire: are officials abusing the “Beijing Consensus”?

By: Melaku Mulualem

Kenyan officials under International Criminal Court indictment seek caps for foreign funding to local NGOs, raising the spectre of a “Beijing Consesus” for African ...

Exploring local possibilities for local rights

By: Okeoma Ibe
Français

Designing and planning solutions to human rights problems from thousands of miles away often produces unsustainable results. The time has come for Southern human ...

Beyond deterrence: the ICC effect in the DRC

By: Michael Broache
Français

When does the ICC have a preventive effect? Evidence from DRC shows that it may not be the logic of deterrence that works best to prevent atrocities.

Local funds for local issues: raising the bar

By: Osai Ojigho
Français

International aid is not ethically wrong, and local rights groups will use it for years to come. We must also mobilize domestic funds, however, by gaining a better ...

In Kenya, averting a move to strangle civil society with the financial noose

By: Maina Kiai
Français

In October Kenya introduced legislation capping foreign funding to NGOs and requiring that money be channeled through a government body. Though narrowly defeated, ...

The challenge of finding funding for gay rights in Cameroon

By: Alice Nkom
Español | Français | العربية

When the EU awarded a large grant to Alice Nkom for her work defending gay people in Cameroon it was attacked for encouraging illegal activity. Here Nkom describes ...

 
 
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