Democratization and the protection of human rights in Africa : problems and prospects /
Brendalyn P. Ambrose.
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 1995.
xxii, 216 p.
027595143X (hardcover : acid-free paper)
More Details
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 1995.
027595143X (hardcover : acid-free paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1996-04-01:
Although Africa seems an unpromising venue for the study of human rights protection, Welch (SUNY at Buffalo) masterfully shows areas of progress and grounds for guarded optimism in an impressive description of the work of a number of different kinds of human rights organizations, largely in Nigeria, Senegal, Namibia, and Ethiopia. The book by Ambrose (a consultant, recently employed by Canadian University Services Overseas) suffers by comparison. Even on its own, it would be a paltry and superficial commentary on democracy and human rights in Africa. Significantly, Ambrose does not mention Welch, who for almost three decades has written about African politics, including two books and six articles on human rights prior to the present volume. Libraries and readers can ignore Ambrose but must acquire Welch. Protecting Human Rights is unusual in a number of respects. Welch wears his political science learning lightly in summarizing and connecting the analytical contexts (e.g., society, international law, donor-state relations) he uses to consider the strategies of human rights organizations in education, in empowerment and group rights, in enforcement by reports and complaints, and in legal aid. This enables Welch to relate his observations and commentary about Africa to the Third World and to global issues. As a result, his book will interest students of international relations, democratization processes, and development issues. But Welch also attempts to bridge the gap between political study and political practice. Focusing on four countries, he concentrates on illustrative cases of human rights activism (a women's rights group in Nigeria, an ethnic rights group in Ethiopia, a legal assistance center in Namibia, and so on), deftly combining the description of activities with narratives. The tales often center on extraordinary leaders (including, poignantly, the recently executed Ken Saro-Wiwa). Within the text is another popular-serious book, a "profiles in courage" of African human rights activists of the 1990s. Welch enlivens the text by drawing on his past and most recent personal involvement in human rights, culminating in a year of research in Europe and Africa, 1993-94. Probably no single volume offer similar scope yet concreteness (but compare Jack Donnelly, Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice, CH, Mar'90; David Forsythe, The Internationalization of Human Rights, CH, Dec'91; Rhoda Howard, Human Rights in Commonwealth Africa, CH, Jan'87). Instead of merely calling for greater mass involvement (as Ambrose does), Welch recognizes that although human rights organizations will not transform Africa, they can ameliorate problems of democracy and development in important ways, and he offers observers seven specific measures of achievement. Most of these reflect increased possibilities of publicity, reporting, and communication; the toughest to apply is the emergence of a "human rights culture." Welch offers hope for a growing "consciousness" of human rights in African states in the expansion of the activities he describes. He concludes by examining his hypotheses about the effectiveness of African human rights organizations, based on the strength of "financial resources, popular support, societal diversity and political space." The conclusions are sober and realistic, yet optimistic and possible. Practitioners and observers will benefit from the book. H. Glickman Haverford College
Review Quotes
'œThe authors have gone beyond the narrow concept of democracy which involves electoral procedures. Democracy, according to them, needs to address economic, social, cultural and human rights concerns.'' Journal of World Studies
"The authors have gone beyond the narrow concept of democracy which involves electoral procedures. Democracy, according to them, needs to address economic, social, cultural and human rights concerns."- Journal of World Studies
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 1996
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Long Description
Development was achieved in the West by capitalism and industrialization before liberal democracy was introduced as a viable form of government. Africa is grappling with the problems of underdevelopment. Yet, the West insists on liberal democracy for Africa, a form of government which has no economic and social foundations in Africa. The West now faults the African people for not being able to establish and sustain democratic institutions. Ambrose, an African development practitioner who, recently returning from the continent after three intense years of fact-finding, research, and consultation, argues that the solution to Africa's problems does not lie in externally imposed liberal institutions shored up by top-down bureaucracy that most often is ignorant, unresponsive, or outright hostile to the needs of the impoverished majority. Her investigations lead her to believe that the solution for Africa lies in a collective approach based on empowerment of the masses and economic reforms.
Table of Contents
Governance in Africa
Emerging Concepts Human Rights in Africa
An Assessment The Protection of Human Rights in Africa
The Role of Nongovernmental Organizations Democratic Transition
The Case of Nigeria Democratization via National Conferences
Challenges to Democracy and Human Rights in Africa
Prospects for the Future
The African Charter of Human and People's Rights
The African Charter for Popular Participation in Development and Transformation
Selected Bibliography
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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