The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights [selections]
Adopted by the Organization of African Unity on 17 June 1981.
Entered into Force 21 October 1986.

The African States members of the Organization of African Unity, parties to the present convention entitled “African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights”,

Recalling Decision 115 (XVI) of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government at its Sixteenth Ordinary Session held in Monrovia, Liberia, from 17 to 20 July 1979 on the preparation of a “preliminary draft on an African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights providing inter alia for the establishment of bodies to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights”;

Considering the Charter of the Organization of African Unity, which stipulates that “freedom, equality, justice and dignity are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African peoples”;

Reaffirming the pledge they solemnly made in Article 2 of the said Charter to eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa, to coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa and to promote international cooperation having due regard to the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

Taking into consideration the virtues of their historical tradition and the values of African civilization which should inspire and characterize their reflection on the concept of human and peoples’ rights;

Recognizing on the one hand, that fundamental human rights stem from the attributes of human beings, which justifies their   national   and  international   protection and on the other hand that the reality and respect of peoples’ rights should necessarily guarantee human rights;

Considering that the enjoyment of rights and freedoms also implies the performance of duties on the part of everyone;

Convinced that it is henceforth essential to pay a particular attention to the right to development and that civil and political rights cannot be dissociated from economic, social and cultural rights in their conception as well as universality and that the satisfaction of economic, social and cultural rights is a guarantee for the enjoyment of civil and political rights;

Conscious of their duty to achieve the total liberation of Africa, the peoples of which are still struggling for their dignity and genuine independence, and undertaking to eliminate colonialism, neo-colonialism, apartheid, zionism and to dismantle aggressive foreign military bases and all forms of discrimination, particularly those based on race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion or political opinions;

Reaffirming their adherence to the principles of human and peoples’ rights and freedoms contained in the declarations, conventions and other instruments adopted by the Organization of African Unity, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and the United Nations;

Firmly convinced of their duty to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights and freedoms taking into account the importance traditionally attached to these rights and freedoms in Africa;

Have agreed as follows:

Part I

 Rights and Duties

Chapter 1. Human and Peoples’ Rights

Article 1
The Member States of the Organization of African Unity parties to the present Charter shall recognize the rights, duties and freedoms enshrined in this Charter and shall undertake to adopt legislative or other measures to give effect to them.

Article 2
Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.

Article 3
1.      Every individual shall be equal before the law.
2.      Every individual shall be entitled to equal protection of the law.

*     *     *

Article 8
Freedom of conscience, the profession and free practice of religion shall be guaranteed.  No one may, subject to law and order, be submitted to measures restricting the exercise of these freedoms.

Article 9
1.     Every individual shall have the right to receive information.
2.     Every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law.

Article 10
1.     Every individual shall have the right to free association provided that he abides by the law.
2.     Subject to the obligation of solidarity provided for in Article 29 no one may be compelled to join an association.

Article 11
Every individual shall have the right to assemble freely with others.  The exercise of this right shall be subject only to necessary restrictions provided for by law in particular those enacted in the interest of national security, the safety, health, ethics and rights and freedoms of others.

*     *     *

Article 17
1.     Every individual shall have the right to education.
2.     Every individual may freely take part in the cultural life of his community.
3.     The promotion and protection of morals and traditional values recognized by the community shall be the duty of the State.

Article 18
1.     The family shall be the natural unit and basis of society.  It shall be protected by the State which shall take care of its physical health and morals.
2.     The State shall have the duty to assist the family which is the custodian of morals and traditional values recognized by the community.
3.     The State shall ensure the elimination of every discrimination against women and also ensure the protection of the rights of the woman and the child as stipulated in international declarations and conventions.
4.     The aged and the disabled shall also have the right to special measures of protection in keeping with their physical or moral needs.

Article 19
All peoples shall be equal; they shall enjoy the same respect and shall have the same rights.  Nothing shall justify the domination of a people by another.

Article 20
1.      All peoples shall have right to existence.  They shall  have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination.  They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.
2.     Colonized or oppressed peoples shall have the right to free themselves from the bonds of domination by resorting to any means recognized by the international community.
3.     All peoples shall have the right to the assistance of the States parties to the present Charter in their liberation struggle against foreign domination, be it political, economic or cultural.

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Article 22
1.     All peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural development with due regard to their freedom and identity and in the equal enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind.
2.     States shall have the duty, individually or collectively, to ensure the exercise of the right to development.

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Chapter II. Duties

Article 27
1.     Every individual shall have duties towards his family and society, the State and other legally recognized communities and the international community.
2.     The rights and freedoms of each individual shall be exercised with due regard to the rights of others, collective security, morality and common interest.

Article 28
Every individual shall have the duty to respect and consider his fellow beings without discrimination, and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance.

Article 29
The individual shall also have the duty:
1.     To preserve the harmonious development of the family and to work for the cohesion and respect of the family; to respect his parents at all times, to maintain them in case of need;
2.     To serve his national community by placing his physical and intellectual abilities at its service;
3.     Not to compromise the security of the State whose national or resident he is;
4.     To preserve and strengthen social and national solidarity, particularly when the latter is threatened;
5.     To preserve and strengthen the national independence and the territorial integrity of his country and to contribute to its defence in accordance with the law;
6.     To work to the best of his abilities and competence, and to pay taxes imposed by law in the interest of the society;
7.     To preserve and strengthen positive African cultural values in his relations with other members of the society, in the spirit of tolerance, dialogue and consultation and, in general, to contribute to the promotion of the moral well-being of society;
8.     To contribute to the best of his abilities, at all times and at all levels, to the promotion and achievement of African unity.

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