Protecting Human Rights in Africa: Strategies and Roles of Non-Governmental Organizations

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Protecting Human Rights in Africa: Strategies and Roles of Non-Governmental Organizations

By Claude E. Welch, Jr.
University Of Pennsylvania Press, 1995
356 pp. $39.95
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We are almost sure to hear a lot in coming years about the growth in Africa of civil society -- the emergence of nongovernmental organizations that educate, promote, challenge, and defend in the name of citizen interests, private or public. Without such organizational activity, governments lack accountability and democracy is fragile at best. This outstanding study by a senior Africanist looks at the fledgling efforts of African NGOs to promote human rights. Concentration on four contrasting countries (Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal, and Namibia) enables the author to explore in depth the strategies, dilemmas, achievements, and weaknesses of specific NGOs while at the same time discussing such broad issues as ethnic rights, harmful traditional practices, and the disproportionate influence of foreign funders over NGO development. A particularly valuable chapter examines the evolution of the Banjul-based African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and the complex dynamic of its interactions with governments, the International Commission of Jurists, and emerging indigenous NGOs. This is a wise, nuanced, and copiously referenced study for practitioners and donors as well as academic analysts.