With the adoption in 1981 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (African Charter), the foundation for an African Human Rights System was laid. Coming approximately two decades after the wave of independence from colonial rule swept through the African continent, the African Charter was adopted at a time when nationalist feelings were highest on the continent and African leaders were battling to assert control over often fluid territories. Although, African leaders reluctantly approved the establishment of a quasi?judicial African Commission on Human and Peoples? Rights (African Commission) as the mechanism to supervise implementation of the Charter, neither the leaders nor the vast majority of African citizens expected much in terms of concrete results. Awareness of human rights was low and the idea of challenging the actions of political leaders, especially before an international monitor was alien.
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