Research Handbooks in Human Rights series
Edited by Robert Kolb and Gloria Gaggioli
Chapter 24: The African Union and international humanitarian law
On 11 July 2000 in Lomé, Togo, the leaders of 53 African States adopted the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU), which abrogates the Charter of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) of 25 May 1963 and organizes the succession of the OAU by the AU. While the OAU Charter insisted on principles and objectives reflecting the African people’s struggle for political independence, human dignity and economic emancipation, the AU Constitutive Act added new principles and organs relating to the multifaceted challenges that continue to confront the African continent. These include the issues of socio-economic development, unity, conflict prevention and resolution, the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights, democratization, good governance and the rule of law. Despite these differences in the OAU and AU core objectives and principles, there is an equal feature of the two successive African continental organisations: on the one hand, neither the OAU Charter nor the AU Constitutive Act expressly mention the words ‘International Humanitarian Law’ (IHL) while, on the other, the two organisations have each adopted decisions and treaties relating to the promotion of and respect for IHL by African States and non-State armed groups. This singular feature gives an indication of the intriguing connection between the AU and IHL, the object of the present chapter. Actually, there is no direct reference to IHL in the AU proclaimed objectives and principles, even though one could perceive allusions to humanitarian rules and principles in the AU objective to ‘Promote and protect human and peoples’ rights
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