41st Ordinary Session of the African Commission
on Human and Peoples' Rights
Honourable Attorney General
and Minister of Justice of the Republic
Honourable Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice
Your Excellency the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished State Delegates
Representatives of National Human Rights Institutions
Representatives of Civil Society Organizations
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am greatly honoured to address this august gathering on the occasion of the 41st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights on behalf of African State Parties. This Session, which is being held twenty six years after the adoption of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, has been possible due to the hospitality of the Government of Ghana, which is one of the pioneers of Africanism without which we would not have the African Union, and possibly this Commission today. I would like to express on behalf of the State delegates profound gratitude to the Government and people of Ghana for their hospitality. For me coming as I do from Southern Africa I feel great pride to walk on Ghanaian soil. Ghana is the home of Pan-Africanism. It was in Accra that the flame of the protracted liberation struggles that raged the Southern African sub region was lit.
The continent has made significant strides towards ensuring the respect, protection and promotion of human rights. There is universal acceptance of human rights as part of every day life, and the need to address the totality of all classes of rights. I am pleased that as a continent we have realized the need to protect women, and children, as special areas that due to cultural and traditional practices were less significant persons in our societies. To this end I am encouraged by the adoption of the Protocol to the Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, and would encourage all states that have not yet done so, to ratify the protocol on the rights of women so that it comes into force as soon as possible. I also encourage states that have not yet done so to ratify the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights. It is pleasing that the Protocol is operational and the Court has already been established but as an African Institution it requires all our support in order to effectively discharge its mandate. In the same vein it is important to give all the support necessary to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights so that it can effectively discharge its mandate. One way of cooperation is by member states submitting state party reports to the treaty body when they are due. This gives the State and the Commission to constructively engage in dialogue for the enhancement of the enjoyment of rights by all.
While celebrating the achievements made by the continent in the area of human rights, we also need to be mindful of the fact that the universal respect, protection and promotion of human rights is not an event but a process. As State Parties we want to own that process. It is a process which is fraught with innumerable challenges. Topmost among these is the chronic shortage of resources that affect not just States, but also our civil society and our continental institutions. Because we lack resources, we are forced to accept the generosity of non Africans who then sometimes dictate our human rights agenda in pursuit of their own foreign policies and interests. This has sometimes led to conflicts of interest, concepts and approaches in a number of member states. A whole generation of civil society organizations has been created in our midst, and receives their funding and political direction from outside leading to a significant distortion and sometimes misrepresentation of the human rights picture in some parts of the continent.
When confronted with allegations of human rights violations what we member states expect is to be treated with fairness and objectivity and not with misinformation, disinformation, distortions, bias and exaggeration as well as failure to contextualize human rights issues. It is for this reason that I urge this august session and this Commission to conduct itself in an impartial manner, to treat each case that is before it on its merits, and to have the rectitude to separate fact from fiction.
I thank you.