NGOs register of complaints and communications to the African Commission opened at the ICJ

Conclusions and recommendations of the 4th NGO Workshop, in Banjul March 26-28.

NGOs mandated the Africa Desk of the ICJ to open a Register of Complaints. Copies of all Communications sent to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) under Arts 55 and 56 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights are now to be sent to the Central File.

The File has now been opened and in accordance with the NGO Resolution all Communications (i.e. individuals, NGOs, etc…) already submitted to the African Commission – as well as those to be submitted in the future – are to be sent to the ICJ headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.


In terms of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, an 11 member African Commission was established in July 1987 as the machinery for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. Under the Commission’s “protection mandate”, two forms of Communications alleging violations of human and peoples rights may be sent to the Commission. These are State Communications and “Other Communications” (those emanating from individuals and NGOs). To date, the inter-State Communication procedure has never been utilized by any contracting State. Several communications sent by NGOs are being studied by the African Commission. No concrete action appears to have been taken by the Commission or by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU. Some of these Communications concern emergency cases of human rights violations. Under these circumstances, the participants of the 4th ICJ Workshop on NGO Participation in the African Commission, which was held in Banjul (The Gambia) March 26-28, 1993, stressed the need for transparency and public accountability in the work of public institutions, and called for the establishment of an NGO Register of Complaints to which copies of all past and future NGO Communications to the African Commission could be filed. Such information would enable NGOs to follow-up on their Communications.

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