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Chapter 5

Enforcing Women’s International Human Rights Under Regional Treaties: The American Convention on Human Rights and the African Charter On Human and Peoples’ Rights

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Introduction to the Chapter

This chapter looks to regional human rights systems and their effects on women’s rights.  Both the American States and the African States have created regional human rights treaties.  What rights do these treaties create for women in each region and how effective is each in enforcing such rights?  Consider both the content of the substantive rights and the procedures for asserting the rights.  How many steps must a victim take?  Can she take the case all the way to the top?  Can NGOs file suits on the behalf of many victims?  What remedies can be ordered?  Are they binding?  How long would it take to establish a right?

Correction to the Chapter re African Court

According to Leda Limann, Legal Expert to the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, as of April 29, 2008, the only African countries that had accepted the Court's jurisdiction to consider cases from individuals and non-governmental organizations were Burkina Faso and Mali, [and not Benin, as the text asserted on page 168]. See Articles 5(3) and 34(6) of the Protocol Establishing the Court, below.

Documents from the Chapter

Each document has its own box.  The box contains, on the top bold line, the name of the document. This is followed by the legal citation (not in bold).  Under these lines, the box contains one or more sources for opening the document.  In the left-hand column (“HTML”or “PDF”), the reader can access the official document copy, hosted on RossRights.  This permits rapid access to the document.  In the right-hand column (“External Link”), the reader can access the same document on an official website. This link will often take more time to appear than the PDF or HTML copy, but should be used for official legal citations. Asterisks accompany links where additional steps to reach the document are required.

For all United Nations Treaties, the source marked "Original" contains the UN General Assembly Resolution (G.A. res.) adopting the relevant treaty, which is found in the "Annex" following the Resolution.  The source marked "UN High Comm'r for Human Rights" contains the relevant treaty, without the G.A. res.

 

Key:
Map AvailableMap(s) Available
Photo AvailablePhoto(s) Available

 

American System

American Convention on Human Rights,

O.A.S.Treaty Series No. 36, 1144 U.N.T.S. 123, entered into force July 18, 1978, reprinted in Basic Documents Pertaining to Human Rights in the Inter-American System, OEA/Ser.L.V/II.82 doc.6 rev.1 at 25 (1992).

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights HTML
Organization of American States Office of International Law HTML

 

Costa Rica Request for Advisory Opinion

Proposed Amendments to the Naturalization Provisions of the Constitution of Costa Rica, Advisory Opinion OC-4/84, January 19, 1984, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (Ser. A) No. 4 (1984).

Inter-American Court of Human Rights PDF

 

Map of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is part of Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, between Nicaragua and Panama.

       other 1%

       Protestant 0.7%, other 4.8%, none 3.2%

 

African System

African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights,

adopted June 27, 1981, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5, 21 I.L.M. 58 (1982), entered into force Oct. 21, 1986.
African Union PDF

 

Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa,

Adopted by the 2nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, Maputo, CAB/LEG/66.6 (Sept. 13, 2000); reprinted in 1 Afr. Hum. Rts. L.J. 40, entered into force Nov. 25, 2005.

African Union PDF

African Charter Protocol on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights,

adopted June 27, 1981, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5, 21 I.L.M. 58 (1982), entered into force Oct. 21, 1986.
African Union PDF
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights HTML

 

Other Documents

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

G.A. res. 34/180, 34 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 46) at 193, U.N. Doc. A/34/46, entered into force Sept. 3, 1981.
Original PDF
UN Division for the Advancement of Women PDF*

*Scroll down past the Introduction for the text of the Convention.

 

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force Mar. 23, 1976.
Original PDF*
UN High Comm'r for Human Rights PDF

*The G.A. Res. begins on p. 49, and the ICCPR begins on p. 52.

 

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N.GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 49, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 993 U.N.T.S. 3, entered into force Jan. 3, 1976.
Original PDF
UN High Comm'r for Human Rights PDF

*The ICESCR begins in the right column.

 

CEDAW Committee, General Recommendation 21, Equality in marriage and family relations (Thirteenth session, 1992),

U.N. Doc. A/49/38 at 1 (1994), reprinted in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 at 250 (2003).

UN High Comm'r for Human Rights PDF

Human Rights Committee, General Comment 28, Equality of rights between men and women (article 3),

U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.10 (2000).

UN High Comm'r for Human Rights HTML

* Click on the PDF icon for English to download

 

Links from the Chapter

 

 

Maps from the Chapter

 

Tanzania - see Ephrahim v. Pastory and Kazilege at p. 169 of the text.

Tanzania

Tanzania is located in East Africa on the Indian Ocean. It is bordered to the north by Kenya and to the south by Mozambique. It borders Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) (via Lake Tanganyika) on the east.

*Estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.

Zimbabwe - see Magaya v. Magaya at p. 177 of the text.

Tanzania

Zimbabwe is located in Southern Africa. It is bordered on the east by Mozambique, the northwest

by Zambia, the southeast by Botswana, and the south by South Africa.

  • Population: 11,392,629 (July 2009 est.)*
  • Ethnic Groups: African 98% (Shona 82%, Ndebele 14%, other 2%), mixed and Asian 1%,

       white less than 1%

  • Religions: syncretic (part Christian, part indigenous beliefs) 50%, Christian 25%, indigenous

       beliefs 24%, Muslim and other 1%

  • More information at the CIA World Factbook

* Note: Estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.

 

Other Developments

 

Updates on the African System

The Constitutive Act of the African Union,

Adopted July 11, 2000 in Lome, Togo.

African Union  

 

Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights,

adopted April 2008, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5, 21 I.L.M. 58 (1982).
African Union PDF

The new Protocol provides for merging the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights and the Court of Justice of the African Union into a single court. It will enter into force when ratified by 15 states; as of 3/16/2010, only 2 states (Libya and Mali) have ratified. For more information on the ratification status, click here.

Update concerning Ephrahim and Magaya cases, Casebook 169-185: For a human rights decision invalidating sex-discriminatory inheritance laws, see the South African Constitutional Court decision below.

Bhe v. Magistrate Khayelitsha

(CCT 49/03) [2004] ZACC 17; 2005 (1) SA 580 (CC); (1) BCLR 1 (CC) (15 October 2004).
SAFLII  

After the Constitutional Court's decision in Bhe, South Africa enacted the Reform of Customary Law of Succession and Regulation of Related Matters Act to give customary widows and daughters the equal inheritance rights with widowers and sons. The Intestate Succession Act will govern the estates of anyone who has not left a will and is subject to customary law.

Reform of Customary Law of Succession and Regulation of Related Matters Act,

No. 11 (2009), 526 Gov't Gazette [Rep. S. Africa] No. 32147, §2(1) (2009).
South African Government Gazette  

South Africa is located at the farthest point south of Africa. It is bordered by Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe in the north and Lesotho and Swaziland mostly or entirely contained within South Africa's borders.

  • Population: 49,052,489 (July, 2009 estimate)*
  • Ethnic Groups: African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5%
  • Religions: Zion Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Catholic 7.1%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%, Muslim 1.5%, other Christian 36%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1%
  • More information at CIA World Factbook

*Estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.

 

Update: Toward an Asian Human Rights Body

Another Step Forward for Regional Human Rights Cooperation,

Press Release, Ass'n of Southeast Asian Nations, Phuket, Thailand (July 20, 2009).

ASEAN Secretariat PDF

Terms of Reference of ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights,

Ass'n of Southeast Asian Nations (2009).

ASEAN Secretariat PDF

 

Statement of IWRAW Asia Pacific and Women's Caucus on AHRB on the Adoption of the Terms of Reference,

rec'd via e-mail, IWRAW Asia Pacific & Women's Caucus on AHRB (July 20, 2009).

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