Commemoration of Africa Human Rights Day
Today, the African People commemorate the Africa Human Rights Day across the continent under the theme “Women Rights – Our Collective Responsibility”.
On this occasion, H.E. Dr. Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs issued a statement on behalf of H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission describing this year’s theme as timely and appropriate. Timely in the sense that it coincides with the Declaration of the African Union’s Heads of State and Government of “2016 as the African Year of Human Rights with Particular Focus on the Rights of Women”. It is, therefore, a clarion call on Africa to do more to promote women’s rights, particularly the rights to development. It is in this context that the African Union Commission has concluded that the AHRD theme for this year is a reflection of a ray of hope that through empowerment of women in Africa, sustainable peace and development will be ushered in.
The Commissioner for Political Affairs stated that on 21 October 1986, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights came into force thereby forming the basis for the commemoration of the Africa Human Rights Day (AHRD). The AHRD, which is celebrated annually across the continent on 21st October, is an opportunity to reflect, take stock and recommit to the solemn declaration undertaken by the African leaders and the African people to promote and safeguard human and peoples’ rights on the continent. She further added that the commemoration is also to continuously awaken greater awareness of the African peoples and the international community on the value of life and humanity, and to renew our collective commitment to protect and uphold the fundamental human rights.
Dr. Abdulahi also indicated that despite all the efforts to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in Africa, including women’s rights, the continent continues to face enormous challenges which if not urgently and adequately addressed, may erase the human rights gain recorded over the preceding decades. These challenges include, but are not limited to: inadequate allocation of resources to human rights institutions, inadequate capacity, insufficient political will, unwillingness by some States to cede part of sovereignty to supranational monitoring bodies, insufficient commitment by some States to domesticate and implement international and continental human rights treaties, persistent crisis and conflicts across the continent which result in loss of life, destruction of property and reversal of human rights gains, widespread poverty, ignorance and lack of awareness, vestiges of colonialism characterized by human rights unfriendly laws, bad governance, corruption and disregard for the constitutionalism and the rule of law.
In conclusion, Dr. Abdullahi also added that in order to ensure that elements of the theme of this year have been achieved, the DPA in close collaboration and coordination with other AU Organs with a human rights mandate, has been carrying out a series of activities commencing in 2016 and spread across the next 10 years, which was declared by Heads of State and Government in Kigali, Rwanda in July this year as the “Human and Peoples’ Rights Decade in Africa”. These activities seek to initiate a lobby and advocacy campaign that generates increasing momentum, and reaches out to member states stakeholders and partners at all levels.