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f_0015500_13580 - The African Commission on Human and...

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The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Demystification of Second and Third Generation Rights under the African Charter: Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC) and the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) v . Nigeria Justice C. Nwobike …………….. Abstract This article argues that the decision of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the Ogoni case represents a giant stride towards the protection and promotion of economic, social and cultural rights of Africans. This is predicated on the African Commission’s finding that the Nigerian Government’s failure to protect the Ogoni people from the activities of oil companies operating in the Niger Delta is contrary to international human rights law and is in fact a step backwards since Nigeria had earlier adopted legislation to fulfill its obligation towards the progressive realization of these rights. The findings of the African Commission demonstrate that economic, social and cultural rights are not vague or incapable of judicial enforcement. They also illustrate how the Charter can be interpreted generously to ensure the effective enjoyment of rights. Novel and commendable as the decision is, it is not without its shortcomings. These shortcomings lie in the failure of the Commission to pronounce on the right to development, its silence on the desirability of holding transnational corporations accountable for human rights violations, and the institutional weakness of the Commission in enforcing its decisions. LL.B. (Rivers State, Nigeria); LL.M. (Essex); Ph.D. candidate (Essex) and Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Nigeria. E-mail: [email protected] Cite as: 1 Afr. J. Legal Stud. 2 (2005) 129-146. © The Africa Law Institute. All rights reserved. AJLS is a free peer-reviewed and interdisciplinary journal published by The Africa Law Institute. To download or comment on current articles, sign-up for future issues or submit a manuscript, please visit <http://www.africalawinstitute.org/ajls>. AJLS is indexed in CIAO Net, HeinOnline, Lexis-Nexis, ProQuest, Quicklaw and Westlaw.
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1 Afr. J. Legal Stud. 2 (2005) 129-146 I. Introduction Since its inception eighteen years ago, no decision of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the “Commission”) has generated the same level of interest as Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC) and the Center for Economic and social Rights (CESR) v. Nigeria . 1 This is understandable. The decision, which has been described as groundbreaking, 2 cuts across a wide spectrum of rights guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the “African Charter” or the “Charter”). 3 Since its establishment pursuant to Article 30 of the African Charter, the majority of decisions handed down by the Commission has largely dealt with civil and political rights. The few cases that have dealt with economic, social and cultural rights have involved widespread and serious violations of Charter rights.
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