The establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples'

Rights is a landmark development in the field of international human

rights law. On June 9, 1998, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the

Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of

African Unity (OAU) adopted a Protocol to the African Charter on

Human and Peoples' Rights ("Protocol"). The Protocol, signed by thirty

of the fifty-two Member States of the OAU on the same day,

establishes an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights to

supplement the existing protections afforded by the African

Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.

The text of the Protocol was received with enthusiasm by

representatives of African governments attending the meeting and

euphoria by the sectors of civil society that have long pressed for, and

long awaited, its adoption. The Protocol, the product of the collective

efforts of civil society at the national, regional, and international levels,

opens the door to more effective human rights protection in the African

region. With its adoption, Africa joins the ranks of the European and

Inter-American regional human rights systems in providing judicial

guarantees at the regional level for the protection of human rights in

the continent.