The Continental platform for Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), Civil Society Organizations and other rights related activist otherwise called “NGO Forum” recently ended at a local hotel in Kololi.
The szynergy came amidst intensified calls for effective and efficient implementation of provisions of African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, especially those on promotion and protection of fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression, association, speech, assembly as well as rights of human right defenders both men and women defenders without any reservation.
The forum since its inception to date, serve as an avenue for the world of NGOs to converge under one single roof to interact, share some of the best practices, discuss and brainstorm on pertinent issues affecting their work across Africa and beyond.
Hence always characterize by drafting of recommendations, open statements, general comments on various matters meant for implementation by African leaders, through the authority of Africa Union heads of state and governments, especially parties to the cited African Charter.
This year’s forum lasted for three days and came hard on the heels of preparations for the ongoing 63rd Ordinary Session of African Commission with the theme: “End Corruption in Africa”, thus making this year’s theme more popular and already drew a lot of attention and keen interest from participants.
Thus given the perceived level of corruption and its impact on an average African, questions as to whether decisions of a commission that lacks legal binding effect would be able to wipe out such an endemic and cancerous matter as corruption in Africa or not?.
The 63rd Ordinary Session coincided with 70th anniversary of the globally acclaimed Universal UDHR otherwise universal bill of rights, signed by almost all nations of the world and it inspired and continues to inspire millions of legal instruments as a guide on promotion and protection human rights across the globe, including national constitutions.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Chairperson of African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights H.E Commissioner Soyata Maiga described this year’s theme of the Ordinary Session very crucial cognizant of situation of Africa and harmful nature of corruption to our overall sustainable development objectives, saying corruption is widely spread in Africa and beyond, hence the need to address it in order to achieve the desire development objectives for Africa and humanity at large.
The Commission Chairperson outline what she called horrors and scourge of various crisis across Africa, especially rebellion, insecurity and other human rights violations taking place in different countries, efforts done by the Commission, African Union, NGOs, Civil Society Organizations and other development partners towards resolving some of them at various levels.
She cited crisis situations as Cameroon, Boko haram in Nigeria, especially chibok girls, Central African Republic, DRC, Burundi, Somalia among others as concern areas for the commission, saying despite challenges such crisis pose to the overall development of Africa and its people, African Commission will never relent in finding lasting solutions to them, through implementation of international, regional and domestic instruments such as treaties, protocol, national laws and other mechanisms.
She assured the NGO and Civil Society community of the commission’s support at all times, especially human right defenders both male and female.
Honorable Miarom Begoto, Chairperson African Union (AU) Board on Anti-corruption reminded the audience that, African Union leader’s choses Anti-corruption as the theme for this year’s event and that despite the fight against corruption in Africa, it continues to remain in our midst and it seriously undermines our development objectives, hence the decision for choosing the theme and the need to get rid of it for the interest and welfare of all Africans and humanity at large.
The AU chair on corruption assured his office’s support and further urged the NGO and Civil Society community to always count on the support of African Union at all times, but was quick to remind them about what he called “The need for them to make effective use of all international, regional and national instruments, as organs and mechanisms of the African Union, United Nations among others”.
Hanna Foster is the Executive of African Centre on Democracy and Human Rights Studies and she chaired the NGO opening session with detailed historical overview of the forum, its objectives, success made, challenges and the way forward as required by the world of right defenders, which she said requires life time commitment.
The African Centre boss spoke about the role of her institution as a research, documentation and communication centre on the promotion and protection of human rights across Africa and their role in organization of NGO Forum since its inception to date.
Mr Salifu Nyass, member of the NGO forum welcome delegates of the forum and those expected to participate in the 63rd Ordinary Session of African Commission and drew their attention to its theme on corruption, which he said held Africa behind for far too long from achieving its sustainable development objectives.
By Lamin B. Darboe