As well as being subject to Southern African Development Community (SADC) instruments, SADC states also operate within the broader regional system, as provided for under the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU) and the various human rights mechanisms and instruments available. The principal instrument for the region is the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and its African Commission.1 An African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has also recently started deciding cases and eventually it will be replaced by the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.2 The various AU organs and its predecessor the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) have dealt with land issues in a variety of different contexts, from independence and self-determination in the early days of the OAU, to unconstitutional changes of government, indigenous peoples and other land disputes in more recent years. This chapter examines how the concept of land has been interpreted by the

AU organs and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in particular. It argues that the approach of the AU organs has been conservative and has upheld state sovereignty, in contrast to the more rights-based approach of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and its special mechanism. There is evidence of a shift, however, by the AU to a more holistic stance to land issues which incorporates human and peoples’ rights.