Network of African National Human Rights Institutions

Cooperation with the African Human Rights Mechanisms

African human rights mechanisms are established as per the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as complimentary human rights mechanisms to the State institutions

NANHRI Members, regional and international partners meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2019 for the Policy Dialogue Forum

Cooperation with the African Human Rights Mechanisms

National Human Rights Institutions have the human rights mandate of ensuring promotion, protection and advocacy for human rights at national level. One of the main functions of the NHRIs is to advise the State on fulfilling its human rights mandate to the rights holders at national level through monitoring and reporting to the national, regional and international mechanisms ad provided for in law. On the other hand, African human rights mechanisms are established as per the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as complimentary human rights mechanisms to the State institutions. The regional mechanisms include the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and other sub-regional bodies.

In enhancing the complementarity between the national and regional human rights bodies, NANHRI and the African Union Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding in March 2016 to formalise and strengthen cooperation and collaboration between the NHRIs and the African human rights mechanisms.

It is on this basis that NANHRI conceptualised the Regional Mechanisms Programme, which aims to

enhance the capacity of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) to identify and report cases and submit reports and crucial information that can support to the regional human rights mechanisms, and follow up on implementation of regional human rights commitments. To ensure that the NHRIs access judgements, communications, advisory opinions and other decisions, NANHRI has developed the Regional Mechanism Database. The database collates all the adjudications of the regional bodies as per country.

The programme covers the following scope:

a) Cooperation with the African Union Commission (AUC)

Through the Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission, NANHRI has been organising activities aimed at strengthening the capacity of the NHRIs to effectively contribute to the human rights agenda in Africa.

One of the key areas of cooperation under this ambit is an annual Policy Dialogue Forum on the State of NHRIs in Africa in which, the Permanent Representative Committee members to the African Union, departmental heads and representatives of various organisations of the African Union, international and regional State and non-State players, NHRIs, academicians, civil society organisations, among others meet to deliberate on key human rights issues of concern in line with the AU theme of the year or as may be agreed.

b) Cooperation with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)

NANHRI enjoys a close working relationship with the ACHPR, mostly focused on supporting NHRIs’ engagements with the Commission. The cooperation involves the following: Supporting NHRIs on application for affiliate status pursuant to the provisions of Resolution ACHPR/Res. 370 (LX) 2017 on the Granting of Affiliate Status to National Human Rights Institutions and specialized human rights institutions in Africa;  

Support to NHRIs in submitting alternative/shadow reports to help the ACHPR reach an informed decision on the situation of human rights in States Parties whose periodic reports are under review;

Supporting NHRIsin submission of activity reports to appraise ACHPR on the situation of national implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, among others.

To achieve this, NANHRI has been organizing the NHRIs Forum on the margins of Ordinary Sessions of the ACHPR. The NHRIs exchange experiences on supporting the work of the ACHPR and discuss human rights issues of common interest ahead of the Ordinary Sessions.

Among other issues, a statement from the NHRIs Forum is shared with the ACHPR to enrich the discussion and outcomes of the following session.

c) Cooperation with African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of Children (ACERWC)

Children are among the most vulnerable groups in Africa. NANHRI and the ACERWC recognized this, hence the need of working together for an Africa where children enjoy full human rights to achieving full potential in the African We Want as envisioned by Agenda 2063.

One of the most recent engagements is the focus on safe return to school in the context of Covid-19 pandemic containment measures as well as mobilisation and support of NHRIs to apply for Affiliate status to the ACERWC.

d) Cooperation with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR)

The African Court in Human and Peoples’ Rights is the last resort at the regional level after exhaustion of the national mechanisms in addressing injustices. NANHRI recognized the need to strengthen the capacity of the members in not only filing information that can help the African Court reach an informed decision, but also litigating as well as appearing as an interested party or amicus curiae in the proceedings. To this effect, NANHRI has published a a baseline study for NHRIs on litigation before the African Court.

This work also extends to the sub-regional mechanisms such as the determinations of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, the ECOWAS Parliament, the East African Court of Justice, the East African Legislative Assembly, and the SADC Parliamentary Forum.

e) Other Support

The program also supports engagement of NHRIs with international mechanisms under the United Nations Human Rights Architecture. It also supports the cross-cutting regional mechanisms components of the diverse portfolio of projects implemented by NANHRI.