BY Fatoumatta K Jallow
The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies held its biannual Forum which brought together civil society organisations from all over Africa who advocate on human rights issues. The theme for this year’s forum is “Fighting Corruption and Advancing Human Rights: Our Collective Responsibilities”, which is part of this year AU Convention on preventing and combating corruption. The NGO’s forum proceeds the 63rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Building an Africa without human Rights violation.
Hannah Foster Executive Director of ACDHRS said the NGO forum is one of the advocacy strategies of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, it is always felt that they have to build strategic partnerships so that they are able to engage with other human rights bodies, intergovernmental bodies, and national bodies particularly the human right commission.
“We all know that the African Commission have over five hundred organisations that have observer statues, so when we go to the African Commission it is not possible for all the five hundred NGOs to speak, that is why the African Centre designed its program in consultation with NGOs which is allied with the agenda of the African Commission and once we deliberate on it, we share our outcomes with them in a form of recommendation.
She revealed that the NGO Forum is meant for Africa but because they have one of the few spaces with such an opportunity to engage, they find out that many people who are working on human rights from Europe, America, Switzerland, Asia and sometimes even in Latin America come to the forum to see how civil society organisations engage.
She added that presently they find out that they have different stakeholders of the African Commission like the CSOs, NGOs, National Human Rights Institutions, intergovernmental organisations from the UN coming together to discuss issues and to speak with one voice in areas of concern like the situation of human rights in their countries and also come up with recommendations. Once agreed upon they can move forward.
In conclusion she highlighted that “after the forum if they go back to their countries they will be able to share the outcome of the NGO forum because when they are coming to attend the forum they are not coming as individuals but ambassadors of their own countries and regions to speak for them.
“We hope that they will act on some of the resolutions or recommendations that they come up with,” she noted.