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Copyright (c) 1983 The American Society of International Law
American Journal of International Law

CURRENT DEVELOPMENT: THE AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES' RIGHTS

October, 1983

77 A.J.I.L. 902

Author

U. O. Umozurike *

Excerpt

During the 1970's human rights appeared to enjoy low esteem in Africa. The basic documents in inter-African relations were the UN and the OAU Charters. In its Preamble, as well as four substantive articles, 1 the UN Charter refers to respect for human rights as a basis for international relations. The principles of human rights were further elaborated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 whose principles, in the view of some writers, have become part of customary international law. 2 This Declaration was in turn elaborated on in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966.



In its Preamble and purposes, the OAU Charter reaffirms the principles of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also refers to the right of self-determination, the eradication of colonialism, and the welfare and well-being of African people. The Organization of African Unity was concerned about the persistence of colonialism in the former Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola and the unilateral declaration of independence by Southern Rhodesia under a racist minority regime. It gave material, moral, and diplomatic support to the liberation movements of those territories. It is committed to the achievement of human rights and self-determination by the people of South Africa and Namibia.

The OAU maintained an indifferent attitude to the suppression of human rights in a number of independent African states by unduly emphasizing the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of member states at ...
 
 
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