The fifth African Union High Level Dialogue on Human Rights is set for November 23 to November 26 at Arusah, United Republic of Tanzania to take stock and reflect on its achievements in the search of a better life for all segments.
The dialogue is being organized by the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights (AfCHPR) to discuss issues on human rights and people’s rights on the continent.
Justice Sylvain Ore, President of the Court in an interview with the Ghana News Agency explained that the dialogue would adopt a ten year action plan on the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa.
“We are guided in that quest by the African Union’s vision for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and having a strong voice in the international arena.
“Human rights must be adhered to as civic and socio-economic aspirations are pursued, which will ensure we have a continent that is peaceful, people centered and plays a dynamic role in the world,” Justice Ore stated.
The African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government at the January 2015 Summit in Addis Ababa declared 2016 as the African Year of Human Rights with particular Focus on the Rights of Women, dubbed “AU Project 2016”.
The year 2016 marks a watershed moment in the continental human rights trajectory. It marks the 35th anniversary of the adoption of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 1981; and the 30th Anniversary of the entry into force of the African Charter in 1986.
It also marks the 29th anniversary of the operationalization of the AfCHPR and also the 10th anniversary of the operationalization of the Court as well as 13 year commemoration of The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol)
Project 2016 provides an opportunity to consolidate gains made over the years. It is meant to catalyze greater action and momentum to further the human rights agenda.
Justice Ore explained that it will also ensure better coordination of human rights initiatives on the continent. “It is intended to spur greater impetus towards universal ratification and implementation of human rights instruments”.
In the final analysis, the idea is to inculcate a true human rights culture on the continent. It is equally an opportunity for Africans to tell their stories and share their efforts in uplifting their communities.
In the last half century, the OAU/AU succeeded in articulating and adopting numerous shared values.
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) remains one of the most progressive legal instruments providing a comprehensive set of human rights for African women.
Unlike any other women’s human rights instrument, it details wide-ranging and substantive human rights for women covering the entire spectrum of civil and political, economic, social and cultural as well as environmental rights.
Justice Ore said the African Court is a continental court established by African countries to ensure protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa. It complements and reinforces the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The Court was established by virtue of Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, (the Protocol) which was adopted by Member States of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in June 1998.
The Protocol came into force on January 25, 2004 after it was ratified by more than 15 countries.
As at February, 2016, only seven of the 30 States Parties to the Protocol had made the declaration recognizing the competence of the Court to receive cases from NGOs and individuals.
The seven states are; Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Only the following 30 States have ratified the Protocol: Ghana, Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Comoros, Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.
The Court has jurisdiction over all cases and disputes submitted to it concerning the interpretation and application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Charter, the Protocol and any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the States concerned. Specifically, the Court has two types of jurisdiction: contentious and advisory.