Judges and Registry Officers of the African Court Visited the International Court of Justice, ICJ – in the Hague.
A delegation of Judges and Officers of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Court) led by its President, Her Excellency Lady Justice Imani D. Aboud, visited the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague. The visit, which was held on Tuesday, 27 September 2022, came as part of the African Court’s outstanding commitment to engage in judicial dialogue with international judicial bodies in order to enhance exchanges and share experiences.
The African Court’s delegation met with ICJ’s President, Her Excellency Judge Joan E. Donoghue, several Judges, and the Registrar. In welcoming the delegation, President Donoghue expressed the ICJ’s interest in the work of the African Court and noted that the world court had made reference to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) in its decisions on issues related to the right to life, prevention of torture, right to liberty, and expulsion of individuals without due process to mention but a few. The visit came at the good time, she stated, as both Courts confront similar challenges although their mandates differ. President Donoghue recalled some of the challenges which include reaching out to individual victims when granting remedies in interstates disputes, enforcement of judgments, and cooperation with states.
In addressing her host, President Aboud on her part, indicated that, the African Court has relied extensively on the work of the ICJ in making some of the most important determinations in its jurisprudence. As the youngest of the most active international judicial institutions, the African Court has mostly drawn from the vast experience of the ICJ in relation not only to general principles of law, such as state responsibility for internationally wrongful acts, and reparation, but also on the interpretation of public international law norms as prescribed mainly in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. The recent judgment of the African Court on issues having to do with the right to self-determination under the African Charter concerning the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is well illustrative of the jurisprudential cross-fertilisation between public international law, and human rights law systems. As it was recalled during the visit, the ICJ had in 2019 delivered an Advisory Opinion on the Chagos Archipelago, which dealt with the exercise of the right to self-determination by a people.
As the judicial organ of the African Union with a mandate to enforce human rights in Africa, the African Court has adopted judicial dialogue as one of the key pillars of its 2021-2025 strategic plan. The plan is geared towards achieving its mandate of effective protection of the rights enshrined in the African Charter and other applicable international norms as provided in the Court’s Protocol. In this regard, the peer-to-peer benchmarking visit to the ICJ was imperative and is a follow-up on one undertaken in 2018.
While concluding their exchanges, the two institutions stressed the overlap in their mandates and committed to enhance existing cooperation.