Problem of Human Rights in Africa

Human Rights

Human Rights as a legal concept is a relatively recent notion in Africa, the United Nation system, international law and the African Union have certainly all contributed to the establishment of a human right system, in Africa, which has positively and indispensably influenced the advancement of human rights and of justice, however, some of the promises made about such rights guaranteed under global, continental, regional and national legal instrument have remained unfulfilled.

According to an article that appeared on Al-Jazeera, Dr Abdulsatar Quassim says, democracy is a culture and not a political decision. The West is skilled in it because it’s their daughter and acumination of their historical development but we (Africans) have a different historical experience.

Human Rights according to Obaseki are rights inherent in individuals as rational, free willing creatures, not conferred by some positive law nor capable of been abridged or abrogated by positive laws, From the foregoing we can infer that human rights are inalienable rights that belong to all human beings by virtue of his humanity irrespective of sex, national or ethnic origin, religion language or any other status.

The principle of universality of human rights as first emphasized in the universal declaration on human rights in 1948 has been reiterated in numerous international human rights conventions, declarations and resolutions.

IN THE CONTEXT OF AFRICA POLITICAL THOUGHT, human rights problems can be discussed below:

Second generation rights are not guaranteed (economic, social and cultural rights): while a lot of progress and achievement has been made in terms of first generation rights that are civil and political rights. There are still much to be done in the areas of economic, social and cultural rights in Africa, I mean there is no point in guaranteeing to me “the right to life” without guaranteeing me the complementary right to the means of sustaining the life you are guaranteeing. The absolute poverty under which the majority of the people of this continent live is the greatest violation of rights of human beings in Africa. It compromises their capacity to be effective citizens and makes them vulnerable to bad governance, sit-tight dictators and disease.

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Human rights discourse in Africa is suffering from euro-centrism, manipulation by western governments, examples the illegal occupation of Iraq by Anglo American imperialist. The torture of prisoners, the inhuman affluent that Guantanamo signifies for all decent human beings.

Human rights discourse today in Africa is laced with all kinds of hypocrisy conditionality; selective enforcement and notions of “do as I say not as I do” European and their big brother the USA see themselves as defenders of human rights standards and often talk to the world in very condescending terms.

Our NGOs need to stop parroting everything their Western donors want them to shout and build sustainable legitimacy through local presence and work, donors come and go but the people will always remain.

In conclusion: however, the hypocrisies, both international and national, that are glaring about human rights standards should not lead me concluding that human rights advocacy discourse is useless, one of the biggest changes that have happened in African in the past decade is the growth, resilience and increasing confidence of human rights groups within a wider opening up of spaces of civil society in general.

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