The devil is in the details: The challenges of transitional justice in recent African peace agreements
Over the last seven years, warring parties in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone have signed peace agreements that include detailed provisions aimed at securing transitional justice. The novelty is not the growing use of transitional justice mechanisms in the aftermath of violent conflict, but rather that these mechanisms are being increasingly designed within the peace negotiation process. An examination of these four agreements illustrates a curious phenomenon: Alleged human rights violators are involved in the articulation of transitional justice mechanisms at the initial stages, without victim representation, transparency and dialogue. This article examines three underlying justifications for including transitional justice in peace agreements and finds that all three fail to adequately justify the inclusion of transitional justice blueprints in the initial stage of the peace process. First, including blueprints for transitional justice within peace agreements may actually weaken, rather than strengthen, the likelihood of a holistic and integrated transitional justice strategy by allowing alleged perpetrators to dictate the terms of justice. Second, including these details within peace agreements is not necessary to further conflict resolution efforts. Third, including detailed designs through undermining justice may also undermine state building. The inclusion of detailed transitional justice processes in peace agreements is not necessarily a clear victory for victims and human rights activists. At best, peace agreements may provide a foundation on which future transitional justice strategies can build.
Criminal justice through international criminal tribunals: Reflections on some lessons for national criminal justice systems
This article explores some lessons national criminal justice systems may draw from the law applicable to, and the jurisprudence engendered by, United Nations ad hoc international criminal tribunals, with emphasis on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. In adjudicating the core international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, these tribunals have broken new ground that enrich the development of international law. It is noteworthy that the contribution of these tribunals is also relevant to national criminal justice systems. The article argues that, although UN ad hoc tribunals are more recent and lesser developed than national criminal justice systems around the world, and were not established strictly speaking as oversight mechanisms to verify that actions of states give effect to international law, several aspects of the law applicable to, and the jurisprudence of, UN ad hoc tribunals may guide the reform and development of national criminal justice systems in their procedural, evidential and substantive laws, and bring them to the standards of international law and human rights.
The Red Terror was a campaign of terror by the military government (Derg) that ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991. The Derg era was characterised by massive human rights violations, including crimes against humanity. The Red Terror trials are the prosecutions of the Derg officials who are suspected of committing mass human rights violations. The trials are unique in the sense that they have largely taken place in Ethiopia, with local impetus and without the involvement of the international community, as was the case in Rwanda, Sierra Leone or the former Yugoslavia. The author argues in favour of retributive justice, making the prosecution of mass human rights violations the duty of the state. In this regard, the author provides the major arguments in favour of the prosecution of human rights violations. The article also examines the major problems in prosecuting human rights violations in general, and the problems presented by the Red Terror trials in particular. However, the author also argues that the recent request on the part of the Derg officials to make a public apology to the Ethiopian people needs to be part of the remedial process. It is argued that apology should be part of the acceptance of responsibility and accountability for mass human rights violations (as retributive justice demands) and not necessarily as part of an incipient strategy of amnesty.
From the detection of the first HIV/AIDS case in Cameroon, the government's action has been swift in addressing the situation through defined policies. Although the initial stages were fraught with problems and proved wary, more policies were adopted against the background of instituting a well defined programme and institutional framework to control the pandemic. This article identifies HIV/AIDS strategies in Cameroon from a policy perspective, as well as legal considerations, with the aid of judicial experience elsewhere in Africa, most particularly, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. It catalogues and examines some of the major challenges confronting or likely to confront HIV/AIDS policies in Cameroon. In as much as the collaborative involvement of various actors — public, private and the civil society — is necessary to boost the implementation of national strategies, collaborative research, accountability and an appropriate legal framework, amongst others, are vital to give meaningful impetus to control HIV/AIDS in Cameroon.
Trade and human rights: A perspective for agents of trade policy using a rights-based approach to development
International trade is essential for economic growth. It provides opportunities for employment, income, foreign exchange and access to foreign products and technologies. In the process of achieving these gains, the possibility exists for negative and adverse socio-economic effects on groups, individuals and the environment. Presently being debated is the impact of international trade on the environment, health, labour and human rights. Various economic, social and political arguments have been made to resist addressing these issues using the international trade regime. Employing the twin concepts of a rights-based approach to development and sustainable development, this paper argues for these concerns to be made an integral part of international trade law policy design and implementation, at national and international levels. While international trade may lead to economic growth, current studies show that it may not necessarily lead to development. This is especially so if international trade rules and policies fail to focus on the central object of development, which is the human being. Trade rules should have as its ultimate and foremost aim the promotion of human welfare. Consequently, since human rights, health, the environment and labour rights impinge directly on human welfare, they must not be considered in isolation from trade.
Some reflections on recent and current trends in the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa: The pains and the gains
This article analyses the impact that recent and current developments on the African continent have had, and continue to have, on the promotion and protection of human rights. Such developments include the establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, the formation of the African Union to replace the Organization of African Unity, democratic change in Africa and the advent of a new constitutionalism that embraces the concept of a bill of rights. An understanding of recent and current trends in the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa has to take into account the historical and international context within which the African system operates. Several challenges still inhibit the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa, including various ongoing regional and internal conflicts, the prevalence of poverty, ignorance and diseases, the predominance of political and social disharmony and the continued existence of unacceptable cultural and customary practices. The article concludes that there are still lots of pains to endure before the African system of human rights protection can favourably compare with its more advanced counterparts.
Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa: Protection of women from sexual violence during armed conflict
Sexual violence during armed conflict is prohibited by international humanitarian law. International tribunals have held that sexual violence can constitute torture, crimes against humanity and genocide. The Protocol on the Rights of Women deals quite extensively with the protection of women in armed conflicts. However, there are no clear guidelines for states on how to implement these obligations.
Advancing gender equity in access to HIV treatment through the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa
This article examines the challenges women face in accessing HIV/AIDS treatment in Africa and the need to ensure equality in access to treatment. It argues that, in accordance with the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Women's Protocol), there is a need for states to adopt affirmative action in order to improve access to HIV treatment for women in Africa. Although the article briefly discusses access to Nevirapine to prevent mother-to-child-transmission of HIV/AIDS, the focus is on women's needs and not the needs of the child. Factors limiting women's rights to access to HIV treatment, such as discrimination, poverty and inadequate spending on the health care, are considered. The article discusses the role state parties to the Women's Protocol can play in ensuring equity in access to treatment for women in their territories.
Reconciling the need for advancing women’s right in Africa and the dictates of international trade norms: The position of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women (Women's Protocol) is unique in that it acknowledges that the implementation of trade rules may adversely impact on the human rights of women and attempts to find a solution for this dilemma. This article examines the basis and essence of this novel approach, its significance and its efficacy in addressing the challenge that international trade obligations pose to achieve gender equality, particularly in countries of Africa where women are highly marginalised and discriminated against in almost all spheres of life.