Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Human Rights in Africa: The Limited Promise of Liberalism


I would like to begin by expressing my deep gratitude and humility to the board of directors of the African Studies Association for inviting me to deliver the 2007 Bashorun M. K. O. Abiola Lecture on the momentous occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the ASA. This singular honor makes me conscious that I follow in the hallowed footsteps of several giants of African politics and studies including Ali A. Mazrui, Gertrude Mongella, and Thandika Mkandawire, among other distinguished thinkers who preceded me on this podium. As most of you know, I am trained as a legal scholar, but my work has benefited tremendously from the support of several senior students of Africa in the audience, including Joel D. Barkan, John W. Harbeson, Frank Holmquist, and Ali A. Mazrui. Nor would I forget to thank Athena Mutua, my spouse, who is here with me. But I know that this meeting would not have been possible without the indefatigable work of Pearl Robinson, the president of the ASA; Carol L. Martin, the executive director of the ASA; Kimme Carlos, the program manager of the annual meeting; and Stanlie James, the program chair.

This is a special occasion for all those who study and love Africa. The ASA is fifty, which is a historic milestone by any count. Ghana, one of the first African countries to free itself from the yoke of colonialism, is also fifty. We thus take stock of the continent after the first half century of decolonization with an appropriate theme—“Twenty-First Century Africa: Evolving Conceptions of Human Rights.”

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

William P. Alford 2000. “Exporting the “Pursuit of Happiness.” Harvard Law Review 113: 16771715.

Antony Anghie . 2005. Imperialism, Sovereignty, and the Making of International Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thomas Carothers . 1994. “Democracy and Human Rights: Policy Allies or Rivals?Washington Quarterly (summer): 109–20.

James Thuo Gathii . 1998International Law and Eurocentricity.” European Journal of International Law 9: 184211.

John Locke . 1988 (1689). Two Treatises of Government. Edited by Peter Laslett . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Samantha Power , and Graham Allison , eds. 2000. Realizing Human Rights: Moving from Inspiration to Impact. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 40 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 193 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 25th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.