On New 'Judicial Animals': The Curious Case of an African Court with Material Jurisdiction of a Global Scope

Adamantia Rachovitsa

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2 Citations (Scopus)
275 Downloads (Pure)


The article aims to think anew about the jurisdiction ratione materiae of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights. The Court, based in Arusha, enjoys a distinctive contentious jurisdiction which extends to the interpretation and application of any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the States concerned. The Court's striking features set it apart from human rights bodies and most international courts. Its jurisdiction has been received with scepticism and fear arguing that, if the Court extends its jurisdiction over treaties other than the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, this will lead to jurisprudential chaos and will undermine the formation of the African corpus juris. This article discusses the case law of the Court since 2013, when the Court started functioning, and argues that these concerns are over-emphasized. The analysis underlines the shifting authority of specialized and/or regional courts; the need not to overstress but to appreciate positively instances of divergence; and the consideration of new conceptual and geographical topoi, in which international law is to be found and produced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-289
Number of pages35
JournalHuman Rights Law Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2019


  • human rights
  • judicial dispute settlement
  • jurisdiction ratione materiae
  • African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights
  • LAW
  • WEST

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