The launch of this Journal, in 2001, roughly coincided with the transformation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) into the African Union (AU). By embracing the realisation of human rights as a guiding principle and objective, the AU marks a clear break with its predecessor. Most significantly, the AU Constitutive Act allows for AU-sanctioned intervention in a member state to address the occurrence of genocide and crimes against humanity.
The architecture of the AU includes a number of institutions that are relevant to the promotion and protection of human rights. With the entry into force of the Protocol on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to the Pan-African Parliament and the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, the process of converting paper guarantees into reality is underway. A number of contributions in this issue discuss some of these institutions, such as the Pan-African Parliament and the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, focusing on their potential role to further human rights on the continent. Any such discussion should also deal with the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which has been described as the developmental programme of the AU, and the concomitant African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). Conscious that corruption is a significant impediment to Africa's development, the AU in 2003 adopted the AU Anti-Corruption Convention, which is also discussed in this issue.
Criticism has been expressed that the AU and its institutional frame-work has been imposed onto Africans without prior popular debate or participation of civil society. It is therefore necessary that these institutions and instruments be subjected to academic analysis and scrutiny, and that their human rights potential be highlighted.
Other contributions deal more directly with human rights issues of relevance to Africa. The death penalty in Africa is dealt with in this issue, while its constitutionality is being challenged in Uganda, and while the decision of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights in the matter against Botswana concerning the execution of Marietta Bosch is being awaited. One of the rights that has been prominent in the jurisprudence of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, the right to a fair trial (article 7), is also considered. An exploratory article investigates the operationalisation of the right to food. The appropriateness of the 'three generations' of human rights is also critically examined from an African perspective.
Some of the communications finalised by the African Commission are cited from a source that may be unfamiliar to readers — the African Human Rights Law Reports (AHRLR). The first volume of the AHRLR (2000) has just been launched. It contains cases decided by UN human rights treaty bodies in respect of African states, and cases decided by the African Commission up to the end of 2000. This publication is edited by the Centre for Human Rights, Pretoria, in collaboration with the Institute for Human Rights and Development, Banjul, The Gambia, and is also published by Juta.
The editors thank the following people who acted as referees over the period since the previous issue of the Journal appeared: Jean Allain, Evarist Baimu, Gina Bekker, Mary Crewe, Edward Dankwa, Mosunmola Imasogie, Anton Kok, Philip Kunig, Edward Kwakwa, Pius Langa, Ola-jobi Makinwa, George William Mugwanya, Joe Oloka-Onyango, David Padilla, Julie Soweto and Nico Steytler.