Human Rights and the Rule of Law

This course examines the state and practice of human rights in Africa. It reviews efforts aimed at the promotion and protection of human rights on the continent, in the context of colonialism, apartheid and the authoritarianism of the post-colonial African State. It aims to develop awareness of the varying context of human rights violations in Africa, as well as efforts to promote human rights. Topics to be covered include the role of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights in human rights protection; human rights and democracy; the new NEPAD initiative and prospects for greater human rights protection; economic, social and cultural rights and cultural challenges to human rights in Africa; human rights of women and children and other vulnerable groups (migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons); human rights and armed conflict in Africa; and future prospects for human rights in Africa. This course will situate Africa in the international human rights movement and enhance understanding of human rights laws, policies and practices.

The need; for all in society to appreciate that the link between peace, democracy, governance, poverty, development and conflict underpins the debate about the expected role and practice of leaders and policy-makers. The issues that define the debate have become the focus of study and scholarship. The importance of the subject is manifested by efforts of policy makers, practitioners and scholars to evolve a commonly shared conceptual understanding of human rights, the rule of law and the balance between the promotion and protection of humanitarian values and state sovereignty. The importance of the subject with regard to the lives of citizens in any society is reflected in the growing number of institutions, organizations, academicians, professionals and practitioners who seek a deeper understanding of the concept and its application. The course is intended as a framework for students to develop an understanding of the development and operationalization of the concept of human rights and the rule of law in the global context and its relevance and application in the African context. The course provides for the examination of national, regional and international frameworks for the protection of human rights, and the link between human rights and social and economic development in Africa.

Lecturer: Prof G. Menelik