In addition to performing any other tasks which may be entrusted to it by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the Commission is officially charged with three major functions:
- the protection of human and peoples' rights
- the promotion of human and peoples' rights
- the interpretation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights
Within the framework of its promotional role, the functions of the Commission are inter alia:
- To collect documents, undertake studies and researches on African problems in the field of human and peoples' rights, organize seminars, symposia and conferences, disseminate information, encourage national and local institutions concerned with human and peoples' rights and should the case arise, give its views or make recommendations to Governments;
- To formulate and lay down principles and rules aimed at solving legal problems relating to human and peoples' rights and fundamental freedoms upon which African Governments may base their legislation.
- To cooperate with other African or, International institutions concerned with the promotion and protection of human and peoples' rights.
- To consider the periodic reports of States on the legislative or other measures adopted to give effect to the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the African Charter
Within the framework of its protective role, the Commission is charged with ensuring the protection of human and peoples' rights under the conditions laid down by the Charter and according to the rules provided for in the Rules of Procedure of the Commission.
Within the framework of its role of interpreting the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, the Commission is charged with interpreting all provisions of the present Charter at the request of a State Party, an institution of the Organization of African Unity or an African Organization recognized by the Organization of African Unity now the African Union