African states pledge to support strengthening of NHRIs

A group photo of participants during the September 6, 2017 Maendeleo Policy Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Courtesy.

African states have committed to working with other partners in strengthening National Human Rights Institutions to effectively provide a human rights-based approach to the continental and global development agendas.

In a Maendeleo Policy Forum organised by the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions and the United Nations Development Programme, the states – through the Permanent Representatives’ Committee – committed to facilitate respective NHRIs to be effective in discharging their mandate of protecting and promoting human rights at national level.

The September 6, 2017 forum, which was held in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, was attended by PRC to the African Union, representatives of the African Union Commission (AUC), representative of NHRIs, civil society organisations, research and academia and development partners.

The theme of the forum was “strengthening Africa’s human rights-based approach to development: the nexus between strong human rights institutions and development at national level”.

The 2016 report on the Study on the state of National Human Rights Institutions in Africa gave a raft of recommendations on what NHRIs, governments, and regional networks and development partners can do to make NHRIs effective.

The recommendations include independence, financial support, oversight, capacity, stakeholder engagement, and rights based approach to development.

States committed to facilitate the institutions, which also committed to build staff capacity while working with other partners like NANHRI.

For instance, states should pursue strong legal frameworks and give sufficient funds to allow for the NHRIs to work independently.

According to the recommendations of the report, NHRIs should establish oversight mechanisms in addition to giving priority in allocation of funds to projects.

The institutions should also seek alternative sources of funds to supplement their projects, but still remain accountable to stakeholders.

In giving proper insights into reports, the NHRIs must work with CSOs to avoid replication of recommendations, so as to give new action plans.

Regional networks like NANHRI have to continually work with other partners to boost the capacity of the NHRIs through capacity building programmes as well as increase its engagement with the AUC and the PRC members.

In a message read on her behalf by the Senior Political Officer Calixte Aristide Mbari, AUC Commissioner for Political Affairs, Mrs. Minata Samate-Cessouma, noted that the forum theme was timely and relevant to Africa’s Agenda Three, which foresees an Africa of good governance, democracy, and respect for human rights, justice and rule of law.

In his welcome remarks, NANHRI Executive Director NANHRI, Mr Gilbert Sebihogo, said the continent’s march towards inclusive and sustainable development – which began in January 2015 when the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union adopted Agenda 2063 – envisages a united Africa, whose citizens are free from diseases, extreme poverty, poor sanitary conditions, armed conflicts, bad governance, impunity and corruption.

All these have an impact on the enjoyment of human rights, and thus the African dream is founded on justice and development based on respect, protection and promotion of human and people’s rights. This places national human rights institution at the core of the systems that ensure sustainable development at the national level.

The UNDP RSCA Acting Director Mr Dominique Kabeya underscored the need to recognize the role played by national human rights institutions in providing a deep understanding of how the local and the global perspectives have been aligned within the national context.

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