The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, in collaboration with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission), will host a 3 day conference on the implementation and domestic impact of the decisions of the African Commission. The Conference will be held from 13-15 September 2023 at the Southern Sun Hotel, in Pretoria, South Africa. (‘Decisions’ refer to findings and recommendations in individual communications; recommendations in Concluding Observations on state reports; as well as thematic and country specific recommendations in various reports, resolutions and other soft law instruments adopted by the African Commission.)

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Background to the Conference

While African states have widely accepted the core African human rights treaties in theory, they have not consistently demonstrated the same level of commitment to implement and comply with the decisions of African human rights bodies (the African Commission, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights). The lack of implementation and compliance with decisions of African human rights bodies undermines the effectiveness of African human rights bodies in delivering justice to victims of human rights violations.

Because of the importance of ensuring redress for victims, African human rights bodies and other relevant stakeholders have made concerted efforts to understand the factors affecting the implementation of decisions of African human rights bodies.

As part of efforts to improve compliance with its decisions, the African Commission has adopted measures to follow up and engage relevant stakeholders in the implementation of its decisions. Some of the efforts of the African Commission include implementation hearings, state reporting processes, promotional missions, and referral to competent policy organs of the African Union (AU). Additionally, Rule 125(2) of the 2020 Rules of Procedure of the African Commission requires states to inform the African Commission of actions taken on implementation.

Nevertheless, scholars have continued to argue that in order to address the paucity of implementation of the decisions of the African Commission, there is a need for all relevant stakeholders, including states, litigants, human rights bodies, and African Union organs, to actively play their required roles as a collective unit within the African human rights system. The consistent application of the African Commission’s mechanisms and engagement with relevant stakeholders is essential to enhance the likelihood of implementation of the decisions of the African Commission in order to ultimately deliver justice to the victims of human rights violations and hold states accountable to the standards prescribed by African human rights treaties.

Over time, the African Commission started to devote more attention to implementation and follow up. To assess and explore ways of improving the implementation of the African Commission’s decisions, it held two Regional Seminars on the Implementation of Decisions, in 2017, in Dakar, Senegal; and in 2018 in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The reports adopted at the end of these Seminars contain a number of recommendations to relevant stakeholders. However, more still needs to be done to give effect to the recommendations.

The objective of the Conference

The objective of this Conference is to provide a platform for intellectual engagement between stakeholders and the African Commission on improving the compliance and implementation of the African Commission’s decisions. The implementation Conference will also look at the broader influence (impact) of the decisions of the African Commission. Among other things, the Conference will analyse the role of the African Commission in the implementation of its decisions as well as the Commission’s practice, including the recommendations in the Dakar and Zanzibar reports. The Conference will also address the obstacles faced by the African Commission in implementing its decisions and potential ways to overcome these obstacles.

The conference will feature members of the African Commission and its Secretariat, allowing the African Commission to provide feedback and comments on presentations, thereby facilitating an open and constructive dialogue between the representatives of the African Commission, the presenters, and other participants. The presented papers will be further developed, based on constructive dialogue, and published.

The Conference will focus on three themes:

The role of the African Commission in the implementation of its decision

This session will focus on the African Commission's function and its potential role in the context of the conference's theme. The African Commission will have an opportunity to present its point of view, and this will likely include a discussion about its practices, achievements, and future goals. This session will be a critique and analysis of the African Commission’s actions so far. It will likely include a discussion on the African Commission’s implementation steps, hearings, and a detailed analysis of its practices. This could include the perspectives of the African Commission, the public, and academics to provide a rounded analysis. The session devoted to this theme will also include a comparative analysis from other African human rights bodies and regional human rights system, particularly the Inter-American human rights system and the European human rights system.

The role of other actors in implementing the decision of the African Commission

This session will explore the roles of other relevant stakeholders. This may include other organizations, institutions, or individuals who have a significant impact on the topic being discussed at the Conference. The session will provide different perspectives and potentially discuss how these actors can collaborate with the African Commission. The session will also discuss the challenges that the other actors have faced in performing their role in the implementation of the decision of the African Commission. Specifically, this section will look at the role of the executive, legislature, judiciary, NHRIs, academia and CSOs at the national level. The session will also look at the role of relevant AU organs, including the Pan-African Parliament, the Peace and Security Council, the African Court, the African Children’s Committee and sub-regional bodies in the implementation of the decision of the African Commission.

Case-study discussion on implementation and impact of the decision of the Africa Commission

The discussion will involve case studies scenarios of the specific decision of the African Commission. The session will discuss the extent of implementation of specific cases, thematic resolutions, country specific resolutions, and concluding observations. The session will identify the obstacles to implementation in the specific cases but also propose strategies and steps to overcome them. This session will also explore the broader impact (influence) of the specific case-study beyond the lens of compliance and implementation.

Submission of abstracts and presentations

Interested participants in the conference should submit an abstract no later than 21 June 2023. The abstract should fall under one of the specific thematic focus areas of the Conference. The abstract should be submitted to zainab.olaitan@up.ac.za, copying foluso.adegalu@up.ac.za. Successful applicants will be informed by 30 June 2023 and will be required to submit a paper for presentation of not more than 8 000 words by 30 August 2023. The conference organisers will cover the cost of an economy class flight, accommodation and other incidental costs of participation in the Conference.


The papers presented at the conference will be developed further by the presenters and published as a special journal volume or edited book with the Pretoria University Law Press.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Foluso Adegalu
Associate Manager: Litigation and Implementation Unit

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 3810
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743

Prof Frans Viljoen
Director: Centre for Human Rights

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 3228
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743


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