Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Ziyad Motala


This Article considers the dominant liberal interpretation of human rights and examines its relevance to African society in terms of its cultural and ideological origins. An argument is made that traditional African society had a conception of human rights which respected important human rights values. However, the rights in traditional African society were not conceptualized in individual terms. This constitutes a fundamental point of departure from the liberal interpretation. Furthermore, human rights practices should be understood, and criticisms against African societies made, in terms of traditional African conceptions. Finally, the African Charter of Human and People's Rights is evaluated in relation to traditional African conceptions of human rights. The strengths and weaknesses of the Charter are evaluated in terms of the future protection of human rights in Africa.