Questions concerning the legal status, role, and effect of international humanitarian law (IHL) in the jurisprudence of African human rights treaty bodies remain little examined. They have not received as much, as detailed, or as sustained attention as that given to the same questions in the practice of other human rights mechanisms. This article seeks to fill this gap by assessing how African human rights treaty bodies have interacted with IHL in their practice, and how they can be used to induce compliance with IHL. It analyses trends in the use of IHL by the African Commission on human and peoples' rights, the African Court on human and peoples' rights, and the African Committee of experts on the rights and welfare of the child. Also explored is the relevant prospective role of the African Court of justice and human rights as the African Union's principal judicial organ. This article demonstrates that, though offering an enabling basis for the co-application of IHL and human rights law, the African human rights system's protective potential is yet to have full scope due to an acute lack of systematic analysis of the nature and effect of IHL-human rights law relations. Nonetheless, recent developments like the African Commission's General Comment no.3 on the right to life indicate a systemic turn towards greater recognition of the utility of IHL for the African human rights system.
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