ABSTRACT

This chapter examines the development of human rights norms by the UN, with particular reference to their socio-economic components, and their impacts on Africa. It examines some UN Charter provisions seeking to further social progress and the role that some of its principal and subsidiary organs are playing in that quest. It examines some global human rights instruments, beginning with the UDHR, and locates Africa’s relationship to them. The chapter defends the universality of the UDHR, notwithstanding that most of what currently constitute states in Africa did not participate in its elaboration. It argues that the rights embodied in the UDHR are aspirational goals and cardinal virtues common to most civilisations. It interrogates the UDHR’s provisions on socio-economic rights. It also examines the Human Rights Covenants, underscoring some cross-cutting rights in the ICCPR, and analysing some salient provisions in the ICESCR and its Optional Protocol. The chapter finally highlights few other global treaties that implicate on socio-economic rights, in particular, the CEDAW and CRC. It concludes that African states’ participation in the UN human rights system provides an additional layer of protections to Africans on socio-economic rights, although challenges remain in their practical realisation.