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Neutering the SADC Tribunal by Blocking Individuals’ Access to the Tribunal

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image of International Human Rights Law Review

The SADC Tribunal was originally suspended by the SADC Heads of State and Government in August 2010. On 18 August 2012 at their Summit in Maputo, Mozambique, the SADC leaders took a decision to continue with the suspension of the SADC tribunal while simultaneously re-negotiating a new Protocol on the SADC Tribunal. Crucially for this article, the Summit also took a decision to limit the jurisdiction of the SADC Tribunal to the determination of inter-state disputes and the interpretation of the SADC Treaty and its protocols and divested it of the jurisdiction to entertain claims lodged by private persons. This decision effectively means that the Tribunal will no longer enjoy the power to entertain human rights claims, since they are invariably brought to court by natural persons. This article argues that the Summit’s decision to close to the SADC Tribunal to individuals is arbitrary, politically motivated and will undermine the regional human rights protection system and consequently undermine SADC’s ultimate objectives, namely regional integration and economic growth.

Affiliations: 1: Senior Lecturer, Law Department, University of Botswana and Practising Attorney, Jonas Attorneys,,


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