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The overall aim of the Africa Regional Programme is to enhance the realization of human rights on the African continent through adherence to the rule of law.

With its office based in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Africa Regional Programme builds on the organisation’s years of experience working with African judges, practicing lawyers, academics, civil society, politicians and government representatives and agencies, to improve the rule of law environment and entrench the respect for human rights in sub-Saharan Africa.

Five decades of history

The history of ICJ’s engagement in Africa dates back five decades ago when the Commission organised the African Conference on the Rule of Law consisting of 194 judges, practicing lawyers and teachers of law from 23 African nations as well as 9 countries of other continents, assembled in Lagos, Nigeria, in January 1961. The Conference resulted into the Law of Lagos, which propelled the discourse on the establishment of an African Human Rights System.

Support to several initiatives

In pursuit of its mandate, the ICJ has since supported a range of standard setting initiatives on the continent; worked with local human rights and rule of law groups and individuals to raise serious human rights and rule of law concerns at national, regional and international levels; organized continuing judicial/legal education for judges and legal professionals; and assisted to provide protection to judges and legal professionals who found themselves at risk for practicing their profession.

Five key priorities

While working together with ICJ’s thematic and other regional programmes, the ARP organizes it interventions around 5 key strategic priorities in the region:

  • Judicial Development and Reform Project (JDRP): The project aims to support the development of independent, impartial and accountable judicial systems, which are efficient and effective. This is achieved through capacity building, judicial assessments/studies, advocacy, and continuous self-reflection and peer dialogues to inspire reform.
  • Human Rights Defenders (HRDP): The project seeks to complement and reinforce existing efforts to promote the work of human rights defenders; support them legally, morally and when necessary secure their safety when faced with the risk of persecution related to their work; and build their technical capacities in the promotion and defense of human rights.
  • Human Rights Mechanisms (HURIMP): The project aims to establish a platform for systematic and sustained engagement with human rights mechanisms at sub-regional, regional and international levels. This project works with and promotes effective access to supra-national courts, quasi-judicial institutions and non-traditional human rights mechanisms such as the Africa Review Programme (APRM) and other continental initiatives, which in effect exact human rights accountability.
  • Human Rights Accountability Project (HURAP): This project aims at combating impunity for gross human rights abuses through accountability for such abuses and access to justice for the victims of such violations through domestic, regional and international legal mechanisms. The Project investigates possible abuses, carries out advocacy on anti-impunity, and builds capacities of judiciaries, legal professionals, victims and human rights defenders on remedial approaches for gross human rights abuses.
  • The Rule of Law and Elections Project (RULEP): This project seeks to promote electoral justice. The project advocates that elections are conducted in an environment that conforms to the principles of the rule of law and that such exercises give effect to the political rights of voters. It denounces the use of violence as a means for resolving electoral disputes and encourages the establishment of credible judicial and non-judicial mechanisms to resolve electoral disputes. The project conducts election observation, training, assessments/studies and promotes dialogue on standards and principles relating to free and fair elections.