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In someone else’s words: Judicial borrowing and the semantic authority of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 August 2023
Since its first judgment on the merits in 2013, the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Court or ACtHPR) jurisprudence has bourgeoned. In building this jurisprudence, the African Court has borrowed significantly from the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. This article empirically maps judicial borrowing in the jurisprudence of the African Court and connects this practice to the theoretical framing of the semantic authority of interpretive actors in international law. The article argues that judicial borrowing allows the African Court to borrow the semantic authority of these more established actors in the field of international human rights law. The practice has allowed the Court to boost its interpretive claims. The article posits that the Court is simultaneously internalizing external references: it transforms them into an internal part of its jurisprudence. Therefore, the African Court is transforming what was initially the semantic authority of its homologues in Strasbourg and San José, into assertions of its own semantic authority. This transformation allows the Court to assert itself as the central authority for the interpretation of human rights in Africa. These findings shed new light onto wider scholarly debates on the characteristics of African human rights jurisprudence in the field of international human rights law.
- ORIGINAL ARTICLE
- © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Foundation of the Leiden Journal of International Law in association with the Grotius Centre for International Law, Leiden University
This article, born out of a PhD thesis at the European University Institute, was initially presented at the AjV conference ‘Who Speaks International Law’, held in Bonn, Germany on 4 September 2021. Thanks to the participants, particularly Başak Çalı, for useful comments. Many thanks to the two anonymous reviewers for their feedback, and to Lucía López Zurita for helpful comments. The article is written by the author in his personal capacity. Any views or opinions presented in the article belong to the author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
1 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘Banjul Charter’), CAB/LEG/67/3 rev 5, 21 ILM 58 (1982); F. Viljoen, International Human Rights Law in Africa (2012), 158.
2 1998 Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
3 Thirty-three out of the 55 African Union member states have ratified the protocol, but at the time of writing only eight have accepted the right to individual petition from individuals and NGOs. See further F. Viljoen, ‘Understanding and Overcoming Challenges in Accessing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights’, (2018) 67 International and Comparative Law Quarterly 63.
4 K. J. Alter, L. R. Helfer and M. R. Madsen, ‘How Context Shapes the Authority of International Courts’, in K. J. Alter, L. R. Helfer and M. R. Madsen (eds.), International Court Authority (2018), 24.
5 These challenges persist and reemerge throughout the lives of international courts.
6 T. G. Daly and M. Wiebusch, ‘The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights: Mapping Resistance Against a Young Court’, (2018) 14 International Journal of Law in Context 294; J. T. Gathii and J. Wangui Mwangi, ‘The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights as an Opportunity Structure’, in J. T. Gathii (ed.), The Performance of Africa’s International Courts: Using Litigation for Political, Legal, and Social Change (2020), 211; M. A. Plagis and L. Riemer, ‘From Context to Content of Human Rights: The Drafting History of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Enigma of Article 7’, (2021) 23 Journal of the History of International Law/Revue d’histoire du droit international 556; see Viljoen, supra note 3; M. A. Sanchez, ‘The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights: Forging a Jurisdictional Frontier in Post-Colonial Human Rights’, (2023) International Journal of Law in Context 1; N. De Silva and M. A. Plagis, ‘NGOs, International Courts, and State Backlash Against Human Rights Accountability: Evidence from NGO Mobilization Against Tanzania at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights’, (2023) 57(1) Law & Society Review 36.
7 Expression of ‘homologues’ taken from L. Burgorgue-Larsen, The Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Case Law and Commentary (2010), 152.
8 S. N’Zatioula Grovogui, Sovereigns, Quasi Sovereigns, and Africans: Race and Self-Determination in International Law (1996), vol. 3; J. T. Gathii, ‘Africa’, in B. Fassbender and A. Peters (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law (2012), 407.
9 The characteristics of ‘precedent’ are not discussed further in this article. For an overview of the puzzling character of ‘precedent’ in international law, see H. G. Cohen, ‘Theorizing Precedent in International Law’, in A. Bianchi, D. Peat and M. Windsor (eds.), Interpretation in International Law (2015), 268.
10 See F. Schauer, ‘Authority and Authorities’, (2008) 94 Virginia Law Review 1931 for an overview of the controversies in the US debate on the practice. See also N. Miller, ‘An International Jurisprudence? The Operation of “Precedent” Across International Tribunals’, (2002) 15 LJIL 483; U. Linderfalk, ‘Cross-Fertilisation in International Law’, (2015) 84 Nordic Journal of International Law 428; E. Voeten, ‘Borrowing and Nonborrowing among International Courts’, (2010) 39 Journal of Legal Studies 547.
11 M. Andenæs and E. Bjørge, A Farewell to Fragmentation: Reassertion and Convergence in International Law (2015).
12 E. F. Mac-Gregor, ‘What Do We Mean When We Talk about Judicial Dialogue?: Reflections of a Judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’, (2017) 30 Harvard Human Rights Journal 89, 126.
13 L. Lixinski, ‘Treaty Interpretation by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Expansionism at the Service of the Unity of International Law’, (2010) 21 EJIL 585.
14 A. Peters, ‘The Refinement of International Law: From Fragmentation to Regime Interaction and Politicization’, (2017) 15 International Journal of Constitutional Law 671.
15 W. Sandholtz, ‘The ECtHR, Transregional Dialogues and Global Constitutionalism’, (2020) 9 Global Constitutionalism 543.
16 1946 Statute of the International Court of Justice, Art. 38(1)(d).
17 I take inspiration from Ridi’s observation that doctrinal accounts on the use of precedent in international adjudication ‘have generally failed to consider the aggregate dimension of the phenomenon’. See N. Ridi, ‘The Shape and Structure of the “Usable Past”: An Empirical Analysis of the Use of Precedent in International Adjudication’, (2019) 10 Journal of International Dispute Settlement 200, at 200.
18 ‘Authority is a complex attitude by subjects towards an institution that should involve a coherent and cohesive view of the legitimacy of obeying that institution; and such approach or attitude must be built and internalized over time’. See H. P. Olsen, ‘International Courts and the Building of Legal Authority Beyond the State’, in H. P. Olsen and P. Capps (eds.), Legal Authority beyond the State (2018), 7; I. Venzke, ‘Semantic Authority’, in J. d’Aspremont and S. Singh (eds.), Concepts for International Law: Contributions to Disciplinary Thought (2019), 815.
19 See Bianchi, Peat and Windsor, supra note 9.
20 I. Venzke, How Interpretation Makes International Law: On Semantic Change and Normative Twists (2012).
21 Ibid., at 37. This is similar to the ‘grammar’ of international law that Koskenniemi emphasizes. M. Koskenniemi, From Apology to Utopia: The Structure of International Legal Argument (2006), 566. See likewise, W. M. Reisman, ‘International Lawmaking: A Process of Communication (The Harold D. Lasswell Memorial Lecture)’, (1981) Proceedings of the ASIL Annual Meeting 101.
22 See Venzke, supra note 20, at 62–4; Venzke, supra note 18; I. Venzke, ‘Semantic Authority, Legal Change and the Dynamics of International Law’, in Olsen and Capps, supra note 18, at 102.
23 See Venzke, supra note 18, at 824.
24 I. Venzke, ‘International Courts’ De Facto Authority and Its Justification’, in Alter, Helfer and Madsen, supra note 4, at 396.
25 See Venzke, supra note 18, at 816–17. It is a concept built on American Legal Realism, the work of Rudolf von Jhering and the Freirechtsschule, and linguistic pragmatism.
26 See Venzke, supra note 20, at 146–7.
27 The primary actors they want to follow their interpretive claims are the member states, that is, their ‘compliance partners'. A. Huneeus, ‘Courts Resisting Courts: Lesson From the Inter-American Court’s Struggle to Enforce Human Rights’, (2011) 44 Cornell International Law Journal 493; R. Kunz, ‘Judging International Judgments Anew? The Human Rights Courts before Domestic Courts’, (2019) 30 EJIL 1129.
28 A. Von Bogdandy and I. Venzke, ‘On the Functions of International Courts: An Appraisal in Light of Their Burgeoning Public Authority’, (2013) 26 LJIL 49; A. Von Bogdandy and I. Venzke, ‘Beyond Dispute: International Judicial Institutions as Lawmakers’, in A. Von Bogdandy and I. Venzke (eds.), International Judicial Lawmaking: On Public Authority and Democratic Legitimation in Global Governance (2012), 3.
29 See Olsen, supra note 18, at 96. For insight into broader studies into how international courts build their authority see Alter, Helfer and Madsen, supra note 4.
30 This links the concept of semantic authority to the notion of interpretive communities in international law. See M. Waibel, ‘Interpretive Communities in International Law’, in A. Bianchi, Peat and Windsor, supra note 9, at 147.
31 M. Koskenniemi, ‘International Law and Hegemony: A Reconfiguration’, (2004) 17 Cambridge Review of International Affairs 197, 199 (emphasis in original). See also Venzke, supra note 20, at 61.
32 See Venzke, supra note 24, at 396.
33 A. Bianchi, ‘International Adjudication, Rhetoric and Storytelling’, (2018) 9 Journal of International Dispute Settlement 28, 33 (emphasis added).
34 J. Klabbers, ‘Virtuous Interpretation’, in M. Fitzmaurice, O. Elias and P. Merkouris, Treaty Interpretation and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: 30 Years On (2010), 17, at 20, referencing D. Kennedy, ‘The Turn to Interpretation’, (1985) 58 Southern California Law Review 251, 265.
35 See G. Hernández, The International Court of Justice and the Judicial Function (2014), 158, arguing the ICJ has built its semantic authority by referring back to its own case law. See also a similar argument in W. Alschner and D. Charlotin, ‘The Growing Complexity of the International Court of Justice’s Self-Citation Network’, (2018) 29 EJIL 83.
36 Regarding the ECtHR: ‘a thick body of case law glosses over the naked treaty texts … [it is not] possible to understand the law or formulate a legal argument without reference to earlier decisions'. See Venzke, supra note 24, at 396.
37 See Venzke, supra note 18, at 823. See further Venzke, supra note 20, Ch. 3.
38 See Venzke, supra note 24, at 394. Semantic authority has several similarities but also distinctions from the concept of Persuasive Authority known from Comparative Law. Primarily, this distinction lies in persuasive authority’s focus on who is cited, and not the content cited. Semantic authority is interested in the claim itself. Cf. Schauer, supra note 10.
39 M. Shahabuddeen, ‘Distinguishing’, in M. Shahabuddeen, Precedent in the World Court (1996), 110.
40 See Venzke, supra note 24, at 396.
41 Here, the notion of authority used by Venzke must be distinguished from accounts such as Weber’s which suggest that the addressee of authority must surrender judgment. This is a substantial requirement in international law. To make authority applicable, Venzke states that the relevance of authority is that it ‘does need not persuade, nor does it require a surrendering of judgment’. As such, it falls between the concepts of persuasion and force. See Venzke, supra note 18, at 822. Compare with M. Weber, Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology (1978), vol. 1, 217.
42 H. H. Koh, ‘Transnational Legal Process’, (1996) 75 Nebraska Law Review 181.
43 U. Šadl and H. P. Olsen, ‘Can Quantitative Methods Complement Doctrinal Legal Studies? Using Citation Network and Corpus Linguistic Analysis to Understand International Courts’, (2017) 30 LJIL 327.
44 See Ridi, supra note 17.
45 Dataset on file with the author.
46 See similar distinctions between different kinds of uses of external judicial decisions in A. Slaughter, ‘A Typology of Transjudicial Communication’, (1994) 29 University of Richmond Law Review 99, 103, and M. Bobek, Comparative Reasoning in European Supreme Courts (2013), 50.
47 If there is an overlap in jurisdiction, then the external reference may be due to a number of reasons, from judicial co-operation, comity, or overlapping facts, that would detour the study. Y. Shany, The Competing Jurisdictions of International Courts and Tribunals (2004), 278–81. One reference to the International Criminal Court in The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights v. Libya was excluded because of this overlap.
48 The relationship between the UN Human Rights Committee and regional human rights courts has been discussed in W. Sandholtz, ‘Human Rights Courts and Global Constitutionalism: Coordination Through Judicial Dialogue’, (2021) 10 Global Constitutionalism 439; C. M. Buckley, A. Donald and P. Leach (eds.), Towards Convergence in International Human Rights Law: Approaches of Regional and International Systems (2016).
49 There are many other judicial practices that could be studied using a similar approach, especially by moving beyond the judgments into the wider arena of international courts. See J. L. Dunoff and M. A. Pollack, ‘International Judicial Practices: Opening the Black Box of International Courts’, (2018) 40 Michigan Journal of International Law 47.
50 The main text will often contain a reference to a specific judgment, perhaps with a quotation from a specific paragraph, with a specific reference in the footnote. These cases are counted once. However, multiple references can refer to the same external judicial decisions but to different paragraphs or to the same paragraphs for different purposes. These instances are counted twice.
51 The inclusion or exclusion of footnotes is discussed in depth in Ridi, supra note 17, at 240–2.
52 References found in separate opinions of judgments on the merits are excluded from the quantitative inquiry.
53 For a recent overview of the approach see U. Šadl and F. Tarissan, ‘The Relevance of the Network Approach to European Case Law: Reflection and Evidence’, in C. Kilpatrick and J. Scott (eds.), New Legal Approaches to Studying the Court of Justice: Revisiting Law in Context (2020), 92. The analytical value of the approach has been highlighted by Ridi, supra note 17, and Alschner and Charlotin, supra note 35.
54 P. Jagoda, Network Aesthetics (2016).
55 See, e.g., M. Jacomy et al., ‘ForceAtlas2, a Continuous Graph Layout Algorithm for Handy Network Visualization Designed for the Gephi Software’, (2014) 9 PLOSONE e98679.
56 While the picture shows a static imagine, ‘a network is never a static structure, even as network graphs, maps, or visualizations might sometimes suggest a fixed form. Networks depend on an active flow among interlinked vertices’. See Jagoda, supra note 54, at 8.
57 L. Epstein and A. D. Martin, An Introduction to Empirical Legal Research (2014), Pt. IV; E. R. Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (2001).
58 ‘[T]he reader is going to attach significance to the data … and it is the same sort of significance the author wants him to attach [to it].’ J. H. Merryman, ‘The Authority of Authority: What the California Supreme Court Cited in 1950’, (1954) 6 Stanford Law Review 613, 651.
59 See Jagoda, supra note 54, at 8.
60 See M. L. Christensen, ‘Networks and Narrative: Visualizing International Law’, (2021) 13 European Journal of Legal Studies 27.
61 A prominent substantive aspect is the inclusion of peoples’ rights. See U. O. Umozurike, The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (1997), 89; F. Ouguergouz et al., The African Charter of Human and People’s Rights: A Comprehensive Agenda for Human Dignity and Sustainable Democracy in Africa (2003), 211.
62 See 1998 Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, supra note 2, Art. 3.1. Compare this to the restricted wording of the 1969 American Convention on Human Rights ‘Pact of San Jose’, Art. 62.3; and 1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as amended by Protocols Nos. 11 and 14, Art. 32.1.
63 See 1998 Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ibid., Art. 7.
64 See African Charter, supra note 1, Arts. 60–66.
65 A. Rachovitsa, ‘The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights: A Uniquely Equipped Testbed for (the Limits of) Human Rights Integration?’, in E. Bribosia and I. Rorive (eds.), Human Rights Tectonics: Global Dynamics of Integration and Fragmentation (2018), 69 at 76–7.
68 L. Burgorgue-Larsen, ‘“Decompartmentalization”: The Key Technique for Interpreting Regional Human Rights Treaties’, (2018) 16 International Journal of Constitutional Law 187, 190.
69 A. Rachovitsa, ‘On New “Judicial Animals”: The Curious Case of an African Court with Material Jurisdiction of a Global Scope’, (2019) 19 Human Rights Law Review 255.
70 Rachovitsa has raised this question in, respectively, ibid., at 26, and Rachovitsa, supra note 65.
71 Rachovitsa has pointed out that the ACtHPR needs to nurture the specificities of the African Charter rather than just letting to be one instrument among many. See Rachovitsa, supra note 65.
72 See Viljoen, supra note 3.
73 Compare with the ECtHR, see E. Bates, The Evolution of the European Convention on Human Rights (2011), 191, and IACtHR, T. Buergenthal, ‘Remembering the Early Years of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’, (2005) 37 New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 259, 269.
74 Rev. Christopher R. Mtikila v. United Republic of Tanzania,  ACtHPR, App. No. 011/2011.
75 Houngue Eric Noudehouenou v. Republic of Benin,  ACtHPR, App. No. 003/2020.
76 Excluding references to overlapping institutions. See above.
77 See, for example, Lohe Issa Konate v. Burkina Faso,  ACtHPR, App. No. 004/2013, para. 158, which refers to the European Court’s view on criminal defamation laws, with three footnotes that include a total of 12 references to specific judgments.
78 Alex Thomas v. United Republic of Tanzania,  ACtHPR, App. No. 005/2013, para. 95.
81 Wilfred Onyango Nganyi & 9 Others v. United Republic of Tanzania,  ACtHPR, App. No. 006/2013, para. 136.
82 Ally Rajabu and Others v. United Republic of Tanzania,  ACtHPR, App. No. 007/2015, para. 149.
83 Fidèle Mulindahabi v. Republic of Rwanda,  ACtHPR, App. No. 004/2017, para. 95.
84 Remarks by Judge Ben Achour, 2nd International Human Rights Forum (Regional Courts), 25 March 2021, organized by the European Court of Human Rights, ‘Cedh - 20210325/1 (EN)’ (European Court of Human Rights/Cour Européenne des Droits de l’Homme, 28 August 2021), available at vodmanager.coe.int/cedh/webcast/cedh/2021-03-25-1/en.
85 Ibid. Abdoulaye Nikiema, Ernest Zongo, Blaise Ilboudo & Burkinabe Human and Peoples’ Rights Movement v. Burkina Faso,  ACtHPR, App. No. 013/2011.
86 See Mtikila, supra note 74, paras. 66–75.
88 Ibid., para 107.1. Art. 27(2) of the African Charter states that ‘the rights and freedoms of each individual shall be exercised with due regard to the rights of others, collective security, morality and common interest'.
89 See, e.g., Art. 8(2) of the ECHR, and Art. 16(2) IACHR. A. Rachovitsa, ‘Balancing Test: African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACtHPR)’, available at opil.ouplaw.com/view/10.1093/law-mpeipro/e3636.013.3636/law-mpeipro-e3636.
91 L. Mapuva, ‘Negating the Promotion of Human Rights through “Claw-Back” Clauses in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights’, (2016) 51 International Affairs and Global Strategy; M. W. Mutua, ‘The Banjul Charter and the African Cultural Fingerprint: An Evaluation of the Language of Duties’, (1994) 35 Virginia Journal of International Law 339.
92 See the conclusion in Rachovitsa, supra note 65; D. Shelton, ‘Konaté v. Burkina Faso’, (2015) 109 AJIL 630.
93 This is a continuation of the practice of the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights. See R. Murray, ‘Borrowing International Human Rights Law: Some Examples from the Doctrine of the Margin of Appreciation in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights’, in C. C. Jalloh and A. B. M. Marong, Promoting Accountability under International Law for Gross Human Rights Violations in Africa (2015), 517.
94 See Konate, supra note 77, paras. 154, 158, 159. Twenty references to the ECtHR and one to the IACtHR regarding various considerations to take into account when restricting freedom of expression.
95 The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights v. Republic of Kenya,  ACtHPR, App. No. 006/2012, paras. 147, 153, 186 contains three references to the IACtHR case law.
96 In comparison, Alschner and Charlotin have visualized the growth of self-citation in the International Court of Justice. See Alschner and Charlotin, supra note 35. See likewise for the WTO Appellate Body and the ICSID, Ridi, supra note 17, at 209.
97 A circle is a classic way to represent movement, periodicity, and transformation. See M. Lima, The Book of Circles: Visualizing Spheres of Knowledge (2017), 40.
98 First ten cases, as well as most of the inadmissible cases. From Rev Christopher R Mtikila, supra note 74, to Kennedy Owino Onyachi and Another v. United Republic of Tanzania,  ACtHPR, App. No. 003/2015. For the remedies regime created via Alex Thomas, supra note 78, and Mohamed Abubakari v. United Republic of Tanzania, Judgment of 3 June 2016, ACtHPR, App. No. 007/2013, see M. A. Plagis, ‘The Makings of Remedies: The (R) Evolution of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights Remedies Regime in Fair Trial Cases’, (2020) 28 African Journal of International and Comparative Law 45.
99 First 22 cases, ending at Diocles William v. United Republic of Tanzania,  ACtHPR, App. No. 016/2016.
100 First 35 cases, ending at Ally Rajabu, supra note 82.
101 All 49 cases, ending with Houngue Eric Noudehouenou, supra note 75.
102 For the drafting history of Art. 7, see Plagis and Riemer, supra note 6, at 18.
103 A discussion on the context and procedure of these cases is found in Gathii and Mwangi, supra note 6, at 223–33; see Plagis, supra note 98; A. Possi, ‘“It Is Better That Ten Guilty Persons Escape than That One Innocent Suffer”: The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Fair Trial Rights in Tanzania’, (2017) 1 African Human Rights Yearbook 311.
104 See Alex Thomas, supra note 78; Wilfred Nganyi, supra note 81; Mohamed Abubakari v. United Republic of Tanzania,  ACtHPR, App. No. 007/2013; Kennedy Onyachi, supra note 98; Christopher Jonas v. United Republic of Tanzania,  ACtHPR, App. No. 011/2015; Kijiji Isiaga v. United Republic of Tanzania,  ACtHPR, App. No. 032/2015; Nguza Viking (Babu Seya) and Johnson Nguza (Papi Kocha) v. United Republic of Tanzania,  ACtHPR, App. No. 006/2015.
105 See, e.g., Alex Thomas, supra note 78, paras. 95, 157–158.
106 Case of Suárez Rosero v. Ecuador, Merits,  IACtHR, Series C No. 35, para. 72.
107 See Alex Thomas, supra note 78, para. 104.
108 Ibid., para. 104 refers to Suárez Rosero, supra note 106; Case of Ximenes Lopes v. Brazil, Merits, Reparations, and Costs Judgment of 4 July 2006,  IACtHR, Series C No. 149; Case of the Ituango Massacres v. Colombia, Preliminary Objection, Merits, Reparations, and Costs Judgment of 1 July 2006,  IACtHR, Series C No. 148; Case of Baldeón García v. Peru, Merits, Reparations, and Costs Judgment of 6 April 2006,  IACtHR, Series C No. 147.
109 T. M. Antkowiak and A. Gonza, The American Convention on Human Rights: Essential Rights (2017), 184.
110 Case of Valle Jaramillo et al. v. Colombia, Interpretation of the Judgment on the Merits, Reparations, and Costs, Judgment of 7 July 2009,  IACtHR, Series C No. 201, para. 155.
111 See Alex Thomas, supra note 78, para. 114; 1998 Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, supra note 2, Art. 7. Art. 7 states that ‘the Court shall apply the provisions of the Charter and any other relevant human rights instruments ratified by the States concerned'.
113 This has generated some criticism, see J. D. Mujuzi, ‘The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Its Protection of the Right to a Fair Trial’, (2017) 16 The Law & Practice of International Courts and Tribunals 187, 202. See also The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights v. State of Libya,  ACtHPR, App. No. 002/2013 (Judge Ouguergouz, Separate Opinion), para. 8.
114 See Alex Thomas, supra note 78, para. 123.
115 Ibid., para. 118, refers to Benham v. United Kingdom, Judgment of 10 June 1996,  ECtHR, App. No. 19380/92, para. 59; Quaranta v. Switzerland, Judgment of 24 May 1991,  ECtHR, App. No. 12744/87, para. 33; Zdravko Stanev v. Bulgaria, Judgment of 6 November 2012,  ECtHR, App. No. 32238/04, para. 38; Talat Tunç v. Turkey, Judgment of 27 March 2007,  ECtHR, App. No. 32432/96, para. 56; Prezec v. Croatia, Judgment of 15 October 2009,  ECtHR, App. No. 48185/07, para. 29; Biba v. Greece, Judgment of 26 September 2000,  ECtHR, App. No. 33170/96, para. 29. The criteria are not expressed as four distinct factors in these cases. Quaranta v. Switzerland is the closest but sees it as three criteria, by linking the seriousness of the offence with the severity of the potential sentence. See Quaranta, supra note 115, paras. 32–35.
116 See Alex Thomas, supra note 78, para. 118; Wilfred Nganyi, supra note 81, para. 177.
117 The African Court also draws inspiration from the UN Human Rights Committee in Anthony Currie v. Jamaica, on the interpretation and application of Art. 14(3)(d) of the ICCPR, as the case had similar circumstances and the interest of justice required free legal aid. Alex Thomas, ibid., para. 120.
118 See Mohamed Abubakari, supra note 104, para. 153, note 19, citing Prosecutor v. Mucić (Čelebići Case), Judgment on Appeal, Case No. IT-96-21, 20 February 2001, para. 607.
119 See Kennedy Onyachi, supra note 98, para. 143, citing Ahmadou Sadio Diallo (Republic of Guinea v. Democratic Republic of the Congo), Merits, Judgment of 30 November 2010, paras. 56, and 54–55.
120 See Mohamed Abubakari, supra note 104, para. 158, note 20, citing Pélissier and Sassi v. France, Judgment of 25 March 1999,  ECtHR, App. No. 25444/94, para. 52; Balta and Demir v. Turkey, Judgment of 23 June 2015,  ECtHR, App. No. 48628/12, para. 37; Yvon Neptune v. Haiti, Merits, Reparations, and Costs, Judgment of 6 May 2008,  IACtHR, paras. 102–109.
121 See Mohamed Abubakari, supra note 104, para. 224, citing and quoting Lorenzetti v. Italy, Judgment of 10 April 2012,  ECtHR, App. No. 32075/09, para. 37. This reference allows a certain amount of flexibility within regard to the openness of verdicts but has been met with some disagreement. See Mohamed Abubakari, ibid., (Dissenting Opinions by Ben Achour and Partly Dissenting Opinion by N. Thompson).
123 See Kennedy Onyachi, supra note 98, para. 104.
125 Ibid., para. 105, note 21, citing Granger v. United Kingdom, Judgment of 28 March 1990,  ECtHR, App. No. 11932/86, para. 44.
126 See Christopher Jonas, supra note 104, para. 77, referring to the Abubakari case when considering whether free legal aid should have been granted.
127 Term used by the International Court of Justice to describe its own consistent case law. See Alschner and Charlotin, supra note 35, at 84.
128 See Nguza Viking, supra note 104, para. 72.
129 See for example Jibu Amir @ Mussa & Another v. United Republic of Tanzania,  ACtHPR, App. No. 014/2015, para. 86, where the Court finds that the right to be informed of one’s right to counsel is essential, as repeatedly stated by the ECtHR.
130 In Armand Guehi v. United Republic of Tanzania (Republic of Côte D’Ivoire Intervening),  ACtHPR, App. No. 001/2015, para. 83, the intervening state refers to Abdulgafur Batmaz v. Turkey, as a support for the contention that a person facing criminal charges must have a lawyer present at all times. In Kenedy Ivan v. United Republic of Tanzania,  ACtHPR, App. No. 025/2016, para. 79, the respondent state refers to Melin v. France, as support for the state letting an individual defend themselves.
131 See Armand Guehi, supra note 130, para. 133, on lack of food in prisons, citing Moisejevs v. Latvia; Lucien Ikili Rashidi v. United Republic of Tanzania,  ACtHPR, App. No. 009/2015, para. 89, on undignified cavity searches, citing El Shennawy v. France and Frérot v. France.
132 See Ally Rajabu, supra note 82, para. 103, citing Hilaire, Constantine & Benjamin v. Trinidad & Tobago and Boyce & Joseph v. Barbados. See also Ally Rajabu, ibid., para. 149, citing Soering v. the United Kingdom on the death penalty.
133 This also includes references of the UN Human Rights Committee, though this has not been included in the current analysis. These references do, however, follow the same pattern as the studied references. See further Mujuzi, supra note 113, at 222.
134 On practices of repetition see W. Werner, ‘“Once Upon a Time, There Was a Story That Began”: Repetition in Security Council Resolutions’, in W. Werner, Repetition and International Law (2022), 72.
135 APDF & IHRDA v. Republic of Mali,  ACtHPR, App. No. 046/2016.
136 Sébastien Germain Marie Aïkoue Ajavon v. Republic of Benin,  ACtHPR, App. No. 013/2017.
137 See Lucien Ikili, supra note 131.
138 See Ally Rajabu, supra note 82.
139 See Fidèle Mulindahabi, supra note 83.
140 See Lucien Ikili, supra note 131, para. 76, citing Stretch v. United Kingdom, Judgment of 24 June 2003,  ECtHR, App. No. 44277/98.
141 See Fidèle Mulindahabi, supra note 83, para. 95 citing Lagos del Campo v. Peru. Also cited are two ICJ judgments on the customary nature of certain rights of the UDHR, as well as an ECOWAS Court of Justice judgment.
142 See Sébastien Ajavon, supra note 136, para. 179, citing Grande Stevens v. Italy.
143 See Ally Rajabu, supra note 82, para. 103, citing Hilaire, supra note 132, and Boyce, supra note 132. See also Ally Rajabu, ibid., para. 149, citing Soering, supra note 132.
144 See Venzke, supra note 20, Ch. IV.
145 See Hernández, supra note 35, at 158.
146 See Rachovitsa, supra note 65; Rachovitsa, supra note 69.
147 See Mujuzi, supra note 113, at 219.
148 Mujuzi points to the raised criticism in the separate opinions of Abubakari as a possible sign of things to come, though neither opinion criticises any ‘Europeanisation’. In fact, both opinions urge the Court to follow the ECtHR’s Del Rio Prado v. Spain judgment. Ibid., at 219–20.
149 M. Mutua, ‘Savages, Victims, and Saviors: The Metaphor of Human Rights’, (2001) 42 Harvard International Law Journal 201; O. Yasuaki, ‘Towards an Intercivilizational Approach to Human Rights’, (1997) 7 Asian Yearbook of International Law 21, 63; S. Moyn, Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World (2018).
150 L. Eslava and S. Pahuja, ‘Between Resistance and Reform: TWAIL and the Universality of International Law’, (2011) 3 Trade, Law and Development 103; J. T. Gathii, ‘Africa and the Radical Origins of the Right to Development’, (2020) 1 TWAIL Review 28.
151 Gevers sees it as a ‘moderate’ Pan-African solution, rather than a ‘radical’ one. C. Gevers, ‘To Seek with Beauty to Set the World Right: Cold War International Law and the Radical “Imaginative Geography” of Pan-Africanism’, in M. Craven, S. Pahuja and G. Simpson (eds.), International Law and the Cold War (2019), 492, at 503. See further A. A. Yusuf, Pan-Africanism and International Law (2016).
152 Bedjaoui describes the establishment of the OAU as ‘the triumph of pragmatism’. M. Bedjaoui, ‘From the Pan-Africanist Movement to the African Union: Brief Historical Overview of Steps to African Unity’, in A. A. Yusuf and F. Ouguergouz, The African Union: Legal and Institutional Framework (A Manual on the Pan-African Organization) (2012), 9, at 16.
153 See Gathii and Mwangi, supra note 6. See likewise, O. D. Akinkugbe, ‘Houngue Éric Noudehouenou v. Republic of Benin’, (2021) 115 AJIL 281.
154 See Gathii, supra note 150. Gathii builds on his previous work that characterized two perspectives of African engagement with international law – a contributionist and a critical theorist perspective, and adds a third ‘middle way’, exemplified in the work of Keba Mbaye. See Gathii, supra note 8.
155 Anudo Ochieng Anudo v. United Republic of Tanzania,  ACtHPR, App. No. 012/2015 is an example of this. Here, the UDHR and ICCPR are invoked and found to have been violated as the African Charter does not contain a right to nationality.
156 See, for example, ICCPR, Art. 14(3)(d) in the Fair Trial cases.
157 See Umozurike, supra note 61.
158 Plagis and Reimer show how the drafters of the African Charter were debating whether to copy existing international instruments or create an autochthonic instrument that enhanced regional sensibilities. See Plagis and Riemer, supra note 6.
159 O. Yasuaki, A Transcivilizational Perspective on International Law: Questioning Prevalent Cognitive Frameworks in the Emerging Multi-Polar and Multi-Civilizational World of the Twenty-First Century (2010), Vol. 342, 386; E. Brems, Human Rights: Universality and Diversity (2001); C. Medina, ‘The Bumpy Road to Human Rights Enjoyment - The Americas Sim Lecture 2008’, (2008) 26 Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights 627, 628; A. A. Cançado Trindade, ‘Conclusion: Reflections on the 2015 Strasbourg Conference’, in A. van Aaken and I. Motoc (eds.), The European Convention on Human Rights and General International Law (2018), 285, at 303.
160 M. Koskenniemi, ‘International Law and Hegemony: A Reconfiguration’, (2004) 17 Cambridge Review of International Affairs 197, 205–6.
161 See note 41, supra, in reference to Venzke, supra note 18, at 822.
162 Voeten finds that the ECtHR only cites international court judgments in three percent of its judgments that engage in new legal interpretation. E. Voeten, ‘Why Cite External Legal Sources?: Theory and Evidence from the European Court of Human Rights’, in C. Giorgetti and M. Pollack (eds.), Beyond Fragmentation: Cross-Fertilization, Cooperation and Competition among International Courts and Tribunals (2022), 162, at164.
163 Case of El Amparo v. Venezuela, Reparations and Costs,  IACtHR, Series C No. 28. See Rev Christopher R Mtikila, supra note 74.
164 Kurt v. Turkey,  ECtHR, App. No. 24276/94, para. 84.
165 This distinction was explicitly noted in the Separate Opinion of Judge Pettiti, ibid., (Judge Pettiti, Separate Opinion).
166 See Venzke, supra note 18, at 822.
167 See Venzke, supra note 22, at 126.
168 B. Simma, ‘Universality of International Law from the Perspective of a Practitioner’, in H. R. Fabri, R. Wolfrum and J. Gogolin, Select Proceedings of the European Society of International Law, Volume 2, 2008 (2010), 1, at 25.
169 See Schauer, supra note 10, at 1957–8.