African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights: State Reporting Procedure

Applies to/Se aplica a

State practice
State law
Individual cases
For Urgent Action
Only under 18-s


Under the ACHPR, states are required to submit reports to the African Commission on measures taken to ensure that the rights enshrined in the African Charter are being implemented. The state reporting procedure is considered as a dialogue, in which the state concerned and the African Commission exchange their views. The state report is published by the African Commission prior to the session, to give civil society the opportunity to comment on the report of the state.

The state report is reviewed in public, and following the dialogue the African Commission will issue "Concluding Remarks/Observations" to the state concerned. The state's report and the Concluding Remarks/Observations are transmitted to the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, and are only later published by the African Commission.

So far, conscientious objection to military service has not been addressed by the African Commission.

1. Likely results from the use of this mechanism

During the examination of State reports, the African Commission also draws on information provided by NGOs, and can raise issues based on information from NGOs. It might then include the issue in its Concluding Observations and make recommendations to the State concerned. The Concluding Observations will be transmitted to the State concerned and form part of the African Commission's Activity Report.

2. To which States does this mechanism apply?

The mechanism applies to those States who have ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

3. Who can submit information?

According to rule 74 of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission, “any interested party wishing to contribute to the examination of the Report and the human rights situation in the country concerned” can send in a contribution. This is not limited to NGOs with observer status with the African Commission.

4. When to submit information?

Information has to be submitted to the African Commission at least 60 days before the examination of a State's report. However, as the Secretariat of the African Commission has to transmit a list of questions to the State concerned at least six weeks before the session, it is advisable to submit information at least 3-4 months before examination of a State report.

Information on upcoming sessions of the African Commission is available at Information on specific States, including State reports, Concluding Observations by the African Commission, and NGO reports, is available at However, on the website it often says “Concluding Observations: available”, without giving a link.

5. Any special advice for making a submission to this mechanism?

Although there is no set format for NGO reports, it is useful to organise the structure of the report around the rights enumerated in the African Charter on Human and Peoples ́ Rights. It is important to make reference to the State report, or to the lack of a state report, and to comment on the information provided by the State.

Although the framework of reference for the African Commission is the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, it might be useful to refer to the standards and jurisprudence developed by other human rights systems in relation to conscientious objection to military service, as this issue has so far not been dealt with by the African Commission.

It can be useful to draft suggested questions to be posed by commissioners, organised by theme and relevant charter provisions and include these in the NGO report.

Lobbying before and during the session

It is advisable to not only submit a report, but to engage with the African Commission prior, during, and after the consideration of a State's report. It can be useful to identify the commissioner responsible for your country and to seek to forge a collaborative relationship and engagement throughout the process. Under normal circumstances, the commissioner responsible for promotional activities in the State concerned will also be the rapporteur to lead the discussion on the report.

NGOs may also take advantage of the ability of organisations with observer status to make comments on other agenda items to address the content of a particular State party’s report. Many issues raised by the reports can be addressed either through the agenda item on the general situation of human rights in Africa or in one of the thematic agenda items.

Formal and informal NGO briefings

NGOs may also want to consider the organisation of side events or private briefings for commissioners as alternative fora for engaging in discussion on the content of State reports.

6. Special rules of procedure or advice for making a submission?


7. What happens to the submission (how long will it take)?

The African Commission examines 3-4 State reports during each of its regular sessions. The Secretariat of the Commission prepares a list of questions, based on information received by the State and from other sources, including NGOs. This list of questions will be transmitted to the State concerned at least six weeks before the session, together with a request to send a “highly qualified official” to the session.

The consideration of the State's report happens during a public meeting of the African Commission, in the form of a dialogue with the representative(s) of the State concerned. Following the dialogue, the Commission meets in a closed session to discuss its comments and recommendations.

The state's report and the Concluding Remarks/Observations are transmitted to the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, and are only later published by the African Commission.

8. History of the use of this mechanism

This mechanism has so far not been used for conscientious objection to military service.

Contact Details: 
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights 31 Bijilo Annex Layout, Kombo North District Western Region P.O. Box 673 Banjul The Gambia Tel: +220-441 05 05, 441 05 06 Fax: +220-441 05 04 E-mail: : Website:
Further Reading: 
Concluding Remarks/Observations