Friday, October 15, 2010

Consultative Meeting on Human Rights Strategy Ends

Banjul, The Gambia
In order to facilitate coordinative impact and action, the African Union Human Rights Organ on the Human Rights Strategy for Africa wrapped-up a three-day consultative meeting over the weekend at the Senegambia Beach Hotel.
The testimony of long and tedious journeys characterized the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa.

However, the Representative of the Department of Political Affairs African Union Commission said Africa, through the leadership of the African Union (AU), has developed a number of initiatives aimed at promoting
and protecting human rights in Africa, the United Nations has also established global human rights
initiatives that find  practical expression in the African continent.

“The multiplicity of Human rights initiatives and institutional entities reflects a comprehensive but uncoordinated approach to the collective human rights mandates,” Dr. Mamadou Dia said while speaking at
the opening ceremony.

Dr. Dia also argued that the human rights situation in Africa is encouraging and one cannot deny that Africa is at a critical juncture, 60 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human rights.

According to him, almost three decades after the adoption of the African Charter Human and Peoples’ Rights, we are grappling with the gap that exists between the human rights vision that sought to establish the
reality that confronts us.

He noted that how Africa will close the human rights gap is an important policy priority that would determine how much Africa will own its destiny and chart a development course for its people.

“In a global political economy where the line between starvation, subsistence and wealth is most often define as civic liberty, there is no doubt the Africa human rights agenda provides a robust basis for Africa’s
renewal,” he said.

He also said: “the nature of human rights promotion and protection suggest a continuous and evolving process that is rooted in our concerted effort. Thus as we embark on this process of developing human
strategy for Africa, it is normal to perceive it as a complex and difficult endeavour,
considering the challenges we seek to overcome.

However our shared vision for the continent and our mutual responsibility to future generation commit us to reflect carefully on our shared values expectations and on the manner in which we seek to deliver on
such expectation. “

According to him the UN General Assembly Resolution that calls for the establishment of human rights strategy for Africa is evidence that there is wide recognition that we live in a time and a world where the
human rights we express are intertwined with the values and rights of all others
in the continent and across the globe.

He further said the resolution reiterates a policy orientation human promotion and protection should be premised on robust partnerships, grounded on common but differentiated capacity and

“Thus, through collective actions, the African Union Commission, together with AU Organs with a human rights mandate and other stakeholders seek to establish a human rights strategy for Africa as a measure to enhance Africa’s
human rights agenda,” he charged.

Dr. Dia said it is anticipated that the meeting will culminate in the development of modalities for enhancing the Human Rights Strategy for Africa owned and focus action on moving forward the collective
Africa human rights strategy, and recommendations of building synergies between
the strategy and other Governance initiatives in Africa.

“As we reflect on the need for a human rights strategy for Africa, rather than think within the confines of mechanical relationships between the various organs and initiatives involved in human rights in Africa,
our drive for developing a human rights strategy for Africa should be informed
by its added value in improving synergies between the various AU organs in
delivering on their mandate in the promotion and protection of human rights on
the continent”, he noted.

He also noted that the potential of the meeting lies on how much it takes the Africa human rights agenda from being a mosaic of good intentions to a shared value or a common denominator that binds our common

For his part Mr. Mohammed Cisse’- Gouro Regional Director Office High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCH), said the African Union has made considerable progress in promoting and protecting human rights, and it has
adopted some of the most progressive human rights instruments in the world.

The main challenges at hand are how to translate the regional human rights instruments into practical application and implementation, adding that his office recognized that
to achieved sustainable promotion and protection of human rights, it is
necessary to build on home grown initiative, within the context of the African
Union and its NEPAD program and with the rights economic communities.

He pointed out that empowering regional and national human rights organs will ensure a truly relevant and sustainable process of
promoting and protecting human rights in Africa, saying that “it is
with particular interest and commitment
we are supporting the African Union
in its efforts in this respect”.

According to him, the report of the mapping exercise and the ideas of the road map will be taken to the next level at this meeting to be discussed and considered to inspire what he called ‘this esteemed gathering’ in deciding
on the way forward.

He stated that it is indeed a commendable effort to lead the promotion and protection of human rights on the continent, while reiterating OHCHR’s sincere commitment as a partner of the AUC and other African organs
with a human rights mandate in this important work.

Mrs. Reine Alapina Gaansou, the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, noted that the meeting was timely and is in the right direction to strengthen the efforts of the commission.

She said any move to address human rights issues on the continent should be encouraged and supported at all levels, adding that human rights is not a continental matter but a global matter. Vol:2 Issn:131

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