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Annual Report 2016

The year 2016 was a year of remarkable coincidence and celebration.

Both the Centre for Human Rights and the African human rights system commemorated 30 years of existence. Amid the dark days of apartheid, and the emergence of states of emergencies, the Centre was established in 1986, by a small group of visionary academics at the Faculty of Law of the University of Pretoria. Amid the dark days of almost uniform authoritarian hegemony in African states, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) established the African human rights system when it adopted the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) (in 1981). It was however only with the entry into force of the African Charter, in 1986, that the African human rights system properly came into being.

Both the African human rights system and the Centre have made remarkable progress since these relatively humble beginnings.

In its first decade (1985–1996), the Centre and its staff played an important role in South Africa’s constitutional developments. In the Centre’s next decade (1997-2006), its focus became more pan-African, as captured in its three flagships: the launch of the Master’s programme  in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa; the publication of the African Human Rights Law Journal, first appearing in 2001; and the all-African participation of continental universities in the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition. The Director at the time, Professor Christof Heyns, was instrumental in setting up many of these initiatives. The third decade (2007-2016) saw the Centre becoming an ‘academic department’ of the Faculty of Law, and subsequently introducing a number of further academic programmes, including one for doctoral students; and extending its activities in pursuit of raising greater awareness and creating capacity to strengthen the African human rights system.

By progressively interpreting the African Charter, finding violations against a wide array of African states, increasingly overcoming resource and institutional constraints, taking the initiative to create special thematic mechanism, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission), the Charter’s monitoring body, has since the early 1990s emerged as a credible continental bulwark for human rights promotion and protection. Later years saw the addition and gradual growth of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the African Child (African Children’s Committee) and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Human Rights Court).

- Taken from the introduction to the Centre for Human Rights Annual Report 2016 by Frans Viljoen, Director, Centre for Human Rights.

 

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Full report

Download the 2016 Annual Report as one large file (7.2 Mb)

Individual chapters

Directors' Message
30 Years Timeline
Academic Programmes
Research & Post-doctoral fellows
Centre Projects
Publications
International Development Law Unit
Centre Personnel
Funding

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