Law01
Minority rights in Africa

Convenors:
Ghada Shawgi (University of Cape Town )
Stream:
Law
Location:
Room 27
Session slots:
1
Wednesday 12 June, 8:45 - 10:30

Short abstract:

Most of the African states include ethnically and culturally distinct minority groups.The proposed panel will bring to the fore the question of the constitutional reform that is eligible to respond to issues of minorities and diversity in Africa.

Long abstract:

The decolonization project in Africa was basically aimed at removing the foreign rule. The people to whom the right of self-determination applied were strictly defined as populations with non-self governing status, within administrative borders established by the colonial powers. The principle of uti possidetis required the independent states that emerged from colonization to inherit the colonial borders unless the decision makers such as the United Nations agreed on the remarking of the international borders. The application of the principle of uti possidetis has created nation states with multi-ethnic compositions in most African countries. Most of the African states include ethnically and culturally distinct minority groups. The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights 1981 (the African Charter) does not include designated provisions on minority rights. The response of the central governments to the demands of minorities for autonomy in the post-colonial era is mostly characterized by mistrust and treating these claims as a threat to the integrity of the nation-state. The position of the African Commission regarding the minority issues is uneven. On one hand, the Commission is reluctant to deal with the tensions around minority issues across Africa, as it is a sensitive political issue. On the other hand, the Commission requires the member states to report on the implementation of the African Charter including protection of minority rights. The proposed panel will bring to the fore the question of the constitutional reform that is eligible to respond to issues of minorities and diversity in Africa.