This volume of the Journal appears as the African Union (AU) is embarking on the elaboration of an ‘African Human Rights Strategy’. This process is unfolding in parallel with a quest by the AU to reflect upon and identify the common values that should guide the process of greater integration in Africa. The identification of shared values is important to give substance and impetus to the process of integration, and to make it more people-centred. However, such a process should be inclusive, and the value system should be based on the framework of AU and other international human rights instruments. Over the almost ten years of its existence, this Journal has given coverage and fostered debate and discussion on many of these values. From our perspective, the values of tolerance for diversity (which are found in articles 28 and 29(7) of the African Charter) and protection of and respect for the most marginalised should be given prominence in the AU process.

As previously, this volume contains articles on a wide variety of topics, ranging from thematic comparisons between African countries to analyses of aspects of national human rights institutions (NHRIs). A total of 32 NHRIs are in place across Africa. More research on and critical engagement with these institutions are required to ensure that they realise their full potential.

In a continuation of an editorial practice that started last year, we have this year again invited experts to review human rights developments in 2009 in three domains: the AU, African sub-regional arrangements, and international criminal justice, as it relates to Africa and Africans. These contributions provide an excellent update for any researcher in these areas. Recent developments that are highlighted include the adoption of an AU Convention on Internally Displaced People; recently decided cases, particularly by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal and Court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); and the investigations by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in, for example, in Kenya and Sudan and the ICC’s preliminary decisions in cases concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as discussions on the crime of piracy.

The editors convey their appreciation to the following independent reviewers, who so generously assisted in ensuring the high quality of the Journal: Aderomola Adeola, Jean Allain, Fareda Banda, Danny Bradlow, Rebecca Cook, Liliana Trillo Diaz, Bonolo Dinokopila, Jacqui Gallinetti, Kithure Kindiki, Tshepo Madlingozi, Morris Mbondenyi, Tumai Murombo, Chacha Bhoke Murungu, Charles Ngwena, Annelize Nienaber, Mwiza Nkhata, Dejo Olowu, Benson Olugbuo, Edward Oyewo, Oliver Ruppel, Karen Stefiszyn and Dire Tladi.