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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Human rights and democratisation in Africa

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It is unfortunate that the African Union has done little or nothing in the actualisation and application of these universal principles in its member states. There are plethora legal frameworks geared toward promoting and protecting human rights and democratisation in African. However, they are meaningless because their practical applications are neglected.   

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The establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (now beautifully branded as African Union) inter alia is anchored on the promotion and protection of human rights and democratisation in Africa. This is as a result of the inhumane and undemocratic experiences of the continent under the so-called colonial masters’ bad governance. In an attempt to correct the human rights catastrophes perpetrated by colonial institutions, the African Union was created.  Thus, the sole intent of the drafters of the organisation’s legal framework and indeed the yearning and aspiration of the people of the continent was to create a continental institution to promote and protect human rights and democratisation which are essential for the development of Africa. 

However, legally construing the AU Charter, it creates no legal binding obligation on state parties for promotion and protection of human rights and democratisation in Africa. Nonetheless, it requires member states to have due regard for human rights and democratisation as enshrined under international law; and further, it subsequently promulgated plethora regional and continental laws aimed at mandating states to promote and protect these concepts. 

Resources and energies of great proportion continued to be pumped in this crusade to make it realistic and workable for the continent, but after 50 years of creation and independence, this proved to be a farfetched dream and of course an unachievable. 

Many academics, politicians and legal experts both within and outside the continent continue to cry loud and frown at the ways and manners in which the continent is governed. Africa has experienced countless human rights abuses of extreme proportion since independence. The 1994 Rwanda genocide, civil wars in Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Darfur, South Sudan, Central Africa Republic to name just a few are repercussions of the member states inactive and reluctance in implementing the basic tenets of the union, or are ignorant of the fundamental roles of the union. 

It is irrefutable that almost all the conflicts in Africa are fuelled due to the blatant disregard and disrespect of human rights and democratisation. Commentators and advocates of human rights and democratisation in Africa have attracted the attentions of dynamic, articulate and focus African young elite on the need to reengage the leadership in the promotion and protection of these desirable and universal principles. There is no country that can attain sustainable development without making these concepts as guarding principles; and no country can develop under the atmosphere of conflicts. It is thus my firm belief that, without due regard to human rights and democratisation, the chronic conflicts the continent is marred in, will be resolved. 

Human rights and democratisation are the life blood of states, and no state, institution or individual can do without. This is evident in national constitutions which are cited as the supreme laws of the land. And under the legal parlance, they attained the status of jus cogen… meaning cannot be derogated. Therefore, human rights and democratisation are contemporarily implanted in human minds; and disrespect of them would inevitably invite conflict as is seen in Africa and elsewhere. This is because the principles are as important as human life.  

Therefore, the AU must reflect and redirect itself in the promotion and protection of these principles by compelling member states to adhere to them. The development of the continent both economically and politically cannot be feasible without the institutionalisation, domestication and application of human rights and democratization. In the quest of attaining the socio-economic development of the continent, the leadership in Africa must endeavour to promote and protect these desirable human needs. 

It is regrettably and sad that the AU has forgotten that this is the only way out. And as a result they had to be invited by Barrack Obama to the White House and be reminded of these principles that have worked well for United States of America. The status of America’s global leadership today is as a result of the institutionalisation, domestication and application of human rights and democratisation in their governance. Therefore, it does not take African leaders to be invited to the White House to attain the development aspirations of the continent. What it takes is to emulate White House good practices (i.e. human rights and democratisation) in the day-to-day administration of the continent’s institutions. 

The European Union despite their bad history in human rights and democratisation has registered tremendous development in the promotion and protection of these desirable and universal principles; and thus availing them the opportunity to compete shoulders-to-shoulders with the United States of American in the international arena. This was possible because their leadership had compromised their differences, interests and selfishness toward the common good of the continent and also implemented and adhered to aims and objectives of their union. 

However, the AU has been politicised and individualised to the extent that no genuine proposal aiming at cultivating and inculcating human rights and democratisation in practical sense may be unanimously approved by the political leaders. The pursuit of individual interest is overwhelming. This is because some of them see effecting practical human rights and democratisation as threat or future potential threat to their leaderships; and thus they continue to nurture, cherish and safeguard selfish interests to the detriment of the development of the continent. 

As far as these issues continue to present their ugly heads in the minds of African heads of states, the search for peace, development and good governance will continue to be unachievable.

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