AU Watch

Certificate & Diploma in Human Rights (The African Human Rights System)

Introduction

On 27 June 1981, Member States of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) made an undertaking to promote and safeguard freedom, justice, equality and human dignity on the continent when they adopted the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights (the African Charter) in Nairobi, Kenya. The African Charter, which draws inspiration from international human rights systems and African values, came into force on 21 October 1986, after the required number of ratifications.

At the 23rdAssembly of Heads of States and Government of the Organization of African Unity held in July 1987, the African leaders elected eleven African personalities to serve as members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. In November 1987, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights with a primary mandate to protect and promote human rights in Africa – was formally established when its members were sworn–in at a ceremony which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The African Commission operated from Addis Ababa for two years and in November 1989; its permanent Headquarters was inaugurated in Banjul, The Gambia by the Secretary General of the OAU, H.E Ide Oumaoru, in the presence of the President of the Republic of The Gambia, H.E. Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara.The transition from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to African Union in the year 2000 did not diminish the commitment of the Continent to human rights as stipulated in the objectives and principles of the Constitutive Act of the Africa Union:

  • Promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ and other relevant human rights instruments, Art. 3 (h)
  • Respect for democratic principles, human rights, rule of law and good governance, Art. 4(m)

About the Human Rights Certificate and Diploma Programme

The African Union has made human rights an integral part of the mandates of its organs. Our online training brings together a diverse array of subjects relevant to human rights and their integration into diplomacy, international and multilateral relations. The course includes both a theoretical and practical component.Amongst other subjects, the theoretical part includes information on human rights; the AU, its history, bodies and mechanisms, including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ rights.

The African human rights system is composed of four pillars:

(a) Norms: The treaties that enshrine particular human rights. The most important is the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Other important treaties are the Protocol to the African Charter on Human And Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (and its 2014 amendment creating the African Criminal Chamber, which has not come into force); the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa; and the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance (ACDEG).

(b) State Parties:to the different legal instruments and institutions.

(c) Supervisory bodieswhich monitor, interpret, decide, and offer recommendations regarding human rights violations. The main African Union human rights supervisory bodies are the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

(d) Non-governmental Organizations, that bring complaints, provide information, and make recommendations to the system.

The overall political and institutional framework for the promotion of democracy, governance and human rights in Africa is the African Governance Architecture, established during the 16th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government in 2011. The AGA is composed of three principal pillars: (i) norms; (ii) organs and institutions and (iii) oversight mechanisms.

Objectives of our human rights, democracy and development programmes

The programme provides academic understanding of the core principles of human rights, democracy and development within the African context. The courses provide an opportunity to study the African Human Rights System to those whose activities will have a positive impact on the promotion and protection of rights in Africa or those who wish to pursue a career in the promotion and protection of rights in Africa.

Distance mode of education will enable participants who are working at the grass root level to enhance the necessary skills to further their profession, towards making a positive impact on the promotion and protection of human rights and democracy in within Africa.

For those who wish to qualify with our Diploma, they will have to submit a critical or analytical 6,000-word essay on a topic of interest, jointly agreed with the Director of Studies. The 6,000-wordessay provides an opportunity to investigate further a subject of particular interest. We encourage students to concentrate on specific case studies, laws or problems and critically to apply their human rights knowledge. Students may also wish to attend an approved AU human rights meeting or session, and present a a critical or analytical 4000-word essay on a topic of interest from that AU meeting or session, as jointly agreed with the Director of Studies. From 2021, we are accepting a 25-minute analytical video, on a topic of interest from that AU meeting or session, as jointly agreed with the Director of Studies, in lieu of the 4000 word essay. 

The Programme

Our Certificate and Diploma in human rights offers a concentrated 12-month (or 24 months, part-time) engagement with the foundations of, and key problems in the African human rights system. Based in the Department of Law at the Legacy University of The Gambia, students interact with a number of disciplines so that the broadest definition of human rights can be explored.

The core coursesare ‘Pillars of the African Human Rights System’ and a Critical Appraisal of the Spine of the African Human Rights System –two multi-disciplinary modules that provides students with a rigorous and focused engagement with five central disciplinary perspectives on the subject of human rights in Africa: philosophy, sociology, promotion, protection and law (regionaland international).

The course aims to provide students with contending interpretations of human rights as a philosophy and practice from the different standpoints, including how the AU influences human rights.The course also provides students with contending interpretations of human rights from the different standpoints that these disciplines present (including debates from within and between the disciplines), and to investigate explicitly the particular knowledge claims and modes of reasoning that the respective disciplines engage. Further, the course applies the insights of disciplinary frameworks of understanding to key human rights issues such as the role of the AU institutions right to life, free speech, transitional justice, group rights, social justice, terrorism, civil liberties and the new challenges to the protection of human rights in Africa.

The certificate or diploma is not a vocational qualification, rather it is a guide to critical thinking about human rights in Africa as an object of study and a matter of policy, intervention and practice.

The following areas will be covered in the programme.

  • Philosophical foundation and historical evolution of the concept of human rights
  • Historical evolution of the African human rights human rights system
  • Pillars of the African human rights system
  • National and regional protection of human rights
  • Role of key AU institutions& human rights instruments
  • Critical appraisal of the spine of the African system
  • Promoting and protecting human rights in Africa
  • Understanding group and minority rights in the African Charter
  • New challenges to the protection of human rights
  • Other regional mechanisms for promoting and protecting human rights
  • Enforcing economic, social and cultural rights in the African Charter
  • Human rights as democratic values: participatory rights in practice
  • Human Rights within the framework of Agenda 2063
  • Human Rights with the African Governance Architecture

 

Eligibility

(a) at least six passes at the G.C.E. (Ordinary Level) Examination or its equivalent with at least three years’ work experience in the field of Human Rights and /Democracy, OR

(b) 3 passes at the G.C.E. (Advanced Level) examination or its equivalent, with at least one year’s work experience in the field of Human Rights and /Democracy, OR

(c) A person who has work experience in the field of development, human rights and / democracy for a period of over five years, on condition that that she/he obtainsa recommendation from the head of any such institution in which she/he works or has worked.

 

Progression to the diploma programme

For Who?

Our courses are designed for lawyers, university students, human rights activists, journalists, NGO members and anyone else with an interest in human rights. Please read on for a general overview of our course. The course is also useful to those who have not had an opportunity of obtaining a structured understanding of human rights issues.

Why take this course?

Delivers a comprehensive understanding of internationally and regionally recognised human rights instruments and standards

  • Explains how the African human rights system work and shows how they can be applied in practice
  • Offers access to leading human rights practitioners and academics
  • Provides a coherent account of international and regional human rights institutions
  • Shows the relevance of regional human rights law to domestic law
  • Identifies how human rights standards influence the development of law and policy
  • Improves critical awareness of key issues in contemporary human rights in Africa 

Participants will be provided with detailed course materials (essential and additional readings for each session) and a full set of regional human rights Law documents

Medium of Instruction: English

Duration: One-year

Assessment: Continuous Assessment and a written Examination.

Course Fee:

 

Contact us for more details.