Vice Chairperson of the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRIs), and Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mr. Joseph Whittal is attending and actively participating in the Sixth African Union Commission (AUC) and Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRIs) Policy Dialogue which is underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This year’s theme, “National Human Rights Institutions Championing a Human Rights-Based Approach in Accelerating the Implementation of the AfCFTA,” aims to foster dialogue, collaboration, and actionable steps towards the full compliance of human rights commitments in Africa.
Organized by the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) of the African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the NANHRI, the Annual Policy Forum on the State of the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in Africa has become an essential platform for strategic collaborations, insights, and policy decisions that promote and protect human rights across the continent.
The 2023 Policy Forum is particularly significant, as it coincides with the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Principles by the UN General Assembly and the 42nd anniversary of the adoption of the African Charter. The first day of the forum was dedicated to reflecting on the achievements, challenges, and compliance with the Paris Principles, and also addressing the operational challenges faced by Paris Principles-compliant NHRIs.
Furthermore, the Policy Forum aligns with the AU theme of the Year 2023, “Acceleration of AfCFTA Implementation.” As Africa commemorates the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Organization of African Unity on May 25th, 2023, the AfCFTA represents a crucial pillar of the AU Agenda 2063, aiming to transform the continent into a global powerhouse through economic renewal. The AfCFTA envisions the establishment of a single market with free movement of goods, services, capital, and natural persons, promoting social and economic development across Africa.
The objectives of the Policy Forum are twofold, advocating for the establishment and sustenance of strong NHRIs and creating a platform for enhanced interactions between NHRIs and AU, including its relevant organs. The forum also seeks to monitor and identify potential human rights impacts of AfCFTA, reinforce compliance with human rights standards, and encourage engagement between regional and national human rights actors to ensure the implementation of AfCFTA remains human rights compliant.
Key expected outcomes of the event include an improved capacity of NHRIs and AU policy organs to influence the implementation of regional human rights commitments and contribute to the overall objectives of the AU Human Rights Decade and the theme of the year.
As the Sixth African Union Commission and Network of Africa National Human Rights Institutions Policy Dialogue unfolds, stakeholders anticipate a collaborative effort towards a human rights-based approach in the acceleration of AfCFTA implementation across the continent.
By championing human rights, Africa seeks to ensure that economic growth and development are accompanied by social equity, inclusivity, and respect for the rights and dignity of all its citizens.
Participants at the forum include members of the AU Permanent Representative Committee of the AU Member States, Representatives from National Human Rights Institutions, and AUC Departments, including PAPS, Economic Development, Tourism, Trade, Industry, and Mining (ETTIM).
In addition, AU Organs such as the ACERWC, African Court, ECOSCOCC, APRM, AUDA-NEPAD, representatives from the AfCFTA Secretariat, Human Rights Defenders, and African Civil Society Organizations Networks. Relevant United Nations bodies, Academia, Representatives of selected Affected Groups/Rights holders, Development partners, and Members of the Media are all participating in this Forum.