The African Peer Review Mechanism was launched in 2002 as a ground-breaking initiative, promoting broad-based participation in development in Africa, and signalling a reconstitution of sovereignty on the continent. The mechanism draws heavily on human rights standards and holds as one of its goals to support human rights. This thesis explores how a rights language is used in the APRM core documents and what this might mean for enhanced human rights accountability. Examinations of the APRM through the lens of a human rights based approach to development show how an explicit recognition of rights is not sufficiently carried through in rights-based benchmarks or in adequate access to channels of accountability. The contradiciton is partly explained with relation to factors of capacity and political will. However, enabling characteristics of the contradiction are also emphasised and demonstrated through explorations of the first review conducted, of Ghana. The thesis concludes that the APRM holds a strong potential for strengthening human rights accountability on the African continent, but that a number of steps need to be taken to fulfil that potential.