The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) adopted the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Charter) 20 years ago, in 1981. This 20 year celebration as well as current reform processes within the OAU invite reflection about the provisions of the African Charter.

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, organised a conference to address this topic. The conference took place from 26 to 28 March 2001. The title of the conference 'The future of the African regional human rights system' indicates its aim — to assess the need for reform of the African human rights system. This issue contains papers delivered at the conference.

Christof Heyns and Shadrack Gutto provide two perspectives on the question whether the Charter is in need of reform. Thereafter, Kenneth Acheampong and Rachel Murray discuss the substantive rights in the Charter, and possibilities for reform. The reform of procedural aspects of the Charter is considered in the contributions by Chidi Odinkalu, Julia Harrington and George William Mugwanga. Finally, Andreas O'Shea provides a critical reflection on the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights.

In the recent developments section, Evarist Baimu provides an introduction to the African Union and its potential role in respect of human rights. The Constitutive Act of the African Union is reprinted in full.

The next issue of the Journal, due March 2002, will partly be devoted to the following topics: HIV/AIDS and human rights in Africa, and the establishment of the Committee implementing the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. We also encourage the submission of shorter contributions discussing human rights related cases recently decided by domestic African courts. Contributions on these issues should reach the editors by 31 December 2001.

The financial assistance of the European Union towards the publication of this Journal is gratefully acknowledged.

Further information on human rights in Africa and copies of African human rights treaties are available on the Centre's web site,


Christof Heyns
Professor of human rights law and Director, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Frans Viljoen
Editor-in-chief, Professor of law, Centre for Human Rights and Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

Assistant editor

Annelize Nienaber
Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

Editorial assistant

Isabeau de Meyer
Project co-ordinator, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Student editors

Evarist Baimu, Martin Nsibirwa and Morné van der Linde
LLD candidates, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Georg Sommeregger
Visiting fellow, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

International Editorial Advisory Board

Gudmundur Alfredsson
Professor of law and Director, Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Lund, Sweden

Victor Dankwa
Professor of law, University of Ghana and Chair, African Commission on Human and Peoples. Rights

John Dugard
Professor of law, University of Leiden; Member, International Law Commis- sion and Honorary professor, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Cees Flinterman
Professor of human rights and Director, Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), University of Utrecht

Abdul G Koroma
Judge, International Court of Justice

Edward Kwakwa
Assistant legal counsel, World Intel- lectual Property Organisation

Pius Langa
Deputy President, Constitutional Court of South Africa

Sandy Liebenberg
Professor of law and Acting Director, Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape

Tiyanjana Maluwa
Legal counsel, Organisation of Afri- can Unity and Honorary professor, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Joe Oloka-Onyango
Dean, Faculty of Law, Makerere Uni- versity, Uganda

Geraldine van Bueren
Professor of international human rights law, University of London