This paper aims at drawing the temporal ‘borders’ of the African Human Rights System in order to contribute to the debate about the ratione temporis application of human rights treaties. In particular, the paper attempts to verify the temporal scope of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and of the jurisdiction of the human rights bodies operating in Africa, with a specific focus on the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. With regard to the dies a quo, the paper shows the tendency to apply the traditional principles of non-retroactivity of treaties (to define the temporal scope of the African Charter) and of States consent (to ascertain the temporal scope of the jurisdiction of the African Court). As for the dies ad quem, the paper submits that the practice sorrounding the African Charter supports the doctrine arguing that it is not possible to withdraw from human rights treaties in the absence of a relevant clause. Nonetheless, the experiences of the African Court and of sub-regional tribunals demonstrate that, at the same time, the African States resolutely reiterate their power to modify the (temporal) scope of the jurisdiction of human rights organs.
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