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African Human Rights Organizations: Questions of Context and Legitimacy


Makau W. Mutua


State University of New York at Buffalo Law School

2004

HUMAN RIGHTS, THE RULE OF LAW, AND DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA, Paul Tyambe Zeleza, Philip J. McConnaughay, eds., 2004
Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-003

Abstract:     
The human rights movement is largely the product of the horrors of World War II. The development of its normative content and structure is the direct result of the abominations committed by the Third Reich during that war. Drawing on the Western liberal tradition, the human rights movement arose primarily to control and contain state action against the individual. It is ironic that it was the victors of the war, most of whom held colonies in Africa, who determined and prevailed upon the United Nations to give form and content to the human rights movement. It is this exclusionary beginning and lack of genuine universality – the absence of major cultures and geographically specific historical perspectives – that are the source of serious tensions within the human rights movement today. This chapter examines the problems raised by the transplantation of this movement – which is uniquely a creature of the North – to Africa and the prospects for viable nongovernmental human rights organizations (NGOs) on the continent. There is no future for the human rights movements in Africa unless it can secure domestic ideological, financial, and moral support from interested constituencies.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 10

Keywords: Africa, Human rights, Organizations, Development, United Nations, Universality, NGO

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Date posted: December 24, 2009 ; Last revised: February 9, 2010

Suggested Citation

Mutua, Makau W., African Human Rights Organizations: Questions of Context and Legitimacy (2004). HUMAN RIGHTS, THE RULE OF LAW, AND DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA, Paul Tyambe Zeleza, Philip J. McConnaughay, eds., 2004 ; Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-003. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1527203

Contact Information

Makau Mutua (Contact Author)
State University of New York at Buffalo Law School ( email )
319 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States

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