An assessment of the right of individuals to access the Southern African Development Community Tribunal

Authored by: Onkemetse Tshosa

The Routledge Handbook of African Law

Print publication date:  November  2021
Online publication date:  November  2021

Print ISBN: 9780815350682
eBook ISBN: 9781351142366
Adobe ISBN:


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The right of individuals to access international tribunals and courts is now recognized in major international conventions, particularly, human rights conventions such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. When the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Treaty was adopted in 1980, it not only provided for a state-to-state complaint procedure, but it also for individual complaints to be brought before the SADC Tribunal, the judicial organ of SADC. This welcome development gave individuals standing before the Tribunal. It also gave the Tribunal jurisdiction to hold member states accountable for the way in which they treated individuals in their respective countries. Recently, the Assembly of Heads of States and Government reviewed and amended the Protocol on the SADC Tribunal, encroaching on the individual complaint procedure. This chapter aims to examine the right of individuals to have recourse to the SADC Tribunal and the SADC legal regime. In particular, it investigates the contents of this right, the factors that may have informed the revision and review of the provisions in the SADC Protocol on the Tribunal on individual access to the Tribunal, and the impact of the review on the protection and enjoyment of access to the Tribunal.

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