Human rights in Africa

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Human rights as a legal concept is a relatively recent notion in Africa. The United Nations System, international law and the African Union have certainly all contributed to the establishment of a human rights system in Africa, which has positively and indispensably influenced the advancement of human rights and of justice. However, some of the promises made about such rights being guaranteed under global, continental, regional and national legal instruments have remained unfulfilled.[1]

The situation of human rights in Africa is generally reported to be poor, and it is seen as an area of concern according to the UN, governmental, and non-governmental observers.

Democratic governments seem to be spreading, though are not yet the majority (National Geographic claims 13 African nations can be considered truly democratic[citation needed]). As well, many nations have at least nominally recognized basic human rights for all citizens, though in practice these are not always recognized, and have created reasonably independent judiciaries.[2]

Extensive human rights abuses still occur in several parts of Africa, often under the oversight of the state. Most of such violations can be attributed to political instability, often as a 'side effect' of civil war. Notable countries with reported major violations include, but are not limited to, the Sudan, and Côte d'Ivoire. Reported violations include extrajudicial execution, mutilation, and rape.[3]

Reproductive rights are limited in many countries by unavailability of family planning resources and restricted access to birth control in Africa.[4][5]

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights is an international body which seeks to provide supranational monitoring and rights to citizens of Africa.


Basic universal rights for children include sanitation, clean water, and basic education. However, most Sub-Saharan African countries are far from providing all of its children with these rights.[6]

By country/entity

North Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa

See also


  1. Bösl, Anton & Diescho, Joseph (Eds), Human Rights in Africa. Legal Perspectives on their Protection and Promotion, Macmillan Education Namibia 2009
  2. Democracy and Human Rights, The UN
  3. "Shocking War Crimes in Sierra Leone". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2015-12-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Family planning". World Health Organization. 2012.
  5. Cleland, J. G.; Ndugwa, R. P.; Zulu, E. M. (2011). "Family planning in sub-Saharan Africa: Progress or stagnation?". Bulletin of the World Health Organization 89 (2): 137–143. doi:10.2471/BLT.10.077925. PMC 3040375. PMID 21346925.
  6. Dabalen, Andrew. 2014. Do African Children have an Equal Chance? World Bank Publications. Chapter 1, pp. 23

Further reading

External links

  • Bösl, A and Diescho, J. (eds), Human Rights in Africa. Legal Perspectives on their protection and promotion, Macmillan Education Namibia, 2009 [1]
  • U.S. State Department - Human Rights Annual Reports