Human Rights And Sustainable Development In Contemporary Africa: A New Dawn, Or Retreating Horizons?

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Joe Oloka O


Buffalo Human Rights Law Review (2000)



Africa, challenges, development, human rights, Oloka Onyango, opportunities


<p align="center"><span style="font-family:lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;"><strong>HUMAN RIGHTS AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN CONTEMPORARY AFRICA:</strong></span></p><p align="center"><span style="font-family:lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;"><strong>A NEW DAWN, OR RETREATING HORIZONS?</strong></span></p><p align="center"><span style="font-family:lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;">J. <span data-scayt_word="Oloka-Onyango" data-scaytid="12">Oloka-Onyango</span></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-family:lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I. A BACKGROUND NOTE</span></p><p><span style="font-family:lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; More than at any other point in time, the start of the third millennium of modern Western history<sup>1 </sup>heralds both significantly new and radically different challenges and opportunities for the overall human rights situation on the African continent. On the one hand, a new African &ldquo;renaissance&rdquo; has been proclaimed in which peoples of the continent are being called upon to assume their rightful place in the community of nations and to put turmoil and tragedy of their past behind.<sup>2 </sup>On the other, internal and regional conflicts appear to grow not simply in frequency and magnitude but also in intensity, viciousness and complexity. This is true even in countries such as Namibia and Senegal that have been relatively stable and sanguine.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; International wars, such as those in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the one between Eritrea and Ethiopia, do not bode well for the observation and respect of human rights. Explanations for the ferocity and morbid depths of the civil conflagration and engulfed Sierra Leone will preoccupy psychologists of armed conflict for decades to come.<sup>3 </sup></span></p><p><span style="font-family:lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;">The 1994 genocide in Rwanda will stand as a vivid testimony to the horrid evils of which human kind is capable of inflicting on its own kith and kin.&nbsp; Despite the opening of some democratic space in countries as diverse as Algeria and Nigeria, the problems have not gone away; they have simply assumed different forms of expression. In a nutshell, the human rights situation on the African continent today can only be described as being in a state of considerable flux.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;"><img height="2" src="file:///C:\Users\adminone\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01\clip_image001.gif" width="265" />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family:lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;">&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family:lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;"><strong><sup>1 </sup></strong><strong>Given that the millennium that was commemorated at the end of 1999 is one that relates to the supposed birth of Jesus Christ, it is quite clearly a commemoration that does not have universal validity for all the peoples of the world.</strong></span></p><p><br /><span style="font-family:lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;"><strong><sup>2</sup> The notion of an African &quot;renaissance&quot; has been frequently invoked by South African President <span data-scayt_word="Thabo" data-scaytid="13">Thabo</span> <span data-scayt_word="Mbeki" data-scaytid="14">Mbeki</span>, and taken up by numerous other leaders on the continent.</strong></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-family:lucida sans unicode,lucida grande,sans-serif;"><strong><span data-scayt_word="3A" data-scaytid="15"><sup>3</sup>A</span> vivid description of the kinds of abuse <span data-scayt_word="thai" data-scaytid="16">thai</span> became the norm in Sierra Leone is provided by Abdul <span data-scayt_word="Tejan-Cole" data-scaytid="17">Tejan-Cole</span>. <em>See Abdul <span data-scayt_word="Tejan-Cole" data-scaytid="18">Tejan-Cole</span>, Human Rights under the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (<span data-scayt_word="AFRC" data-scaytid="19">AFRC</span> in Sierra Leone: A <span data-scayt_word="Catalogue" data-scaytid="20">Catalogue</span> of Abuse, 10 <span data-scayt_word="AFR" data-scaytid="21">AFR</span>. J. INT&#39;L &amp; COMP. L 481 (1998).</em></strong></span></p>