Despite the African Union adopting the AGENDA 2063: “The Africa We Want” in May 2013, 2021- and beginning of 2022 have been marked by military coups in 5 African countries with considerable impact on human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and governance. This needs to change.
The 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, from 22 February to 23 March 2021, will consider issues including the protection of human rights defenders, systemic racism, police brutality and violence against peaceful protests-particularly in the United States of America-, freedom of religion or belief, protection and promotion of human rights while countering terrorism, the right to food, among others. It will also hold dedicated debates on grave human rights situations in States including Nicaragua, Venezuela, Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem, Syria, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Eritrea, among many others. Here’s an overview of some of the key issues on the agenda.
Civil society organisations welcomed significant outcomes of the Human Rights Council's 40th session, including the consensus adoption of a resolution on environmental human rights defenders, continued Council scrutiny over Sri Lanka, Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria and Iran, as well as initiation of Council action on Nicaragua and several joint statements on Saudi Arabia, Chechnya and Cameroon.
The HRC must continue to investigate human rights violations in South Sudan and hold the perpetrators accountable.
Every year, the NGO Forum takes place ahead of the African Commission session. For its 35th edition, the NGO Forum was organised and facilitated by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHR) in collaboration with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) and the NGO Forum Steering Committee. Among the high number of participants, various stakeholders took part in the forum including civil society organisations (CSOs), national human rights institutions (NHRI) representatives as well as Commissioners of the African Commission.
In a statement delivered today before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), ISHR commended progress made on legal protection and recognition of human rights defenders while expressing serious concerns on increasing violations in various countries.
ISHR stresses the need for a strong accountability mechanism in South Sudan, and urges the UN Commission on South Sudan to highlight the full extent of violations in the country.
ISHR delivered two statements during the 60th ordinary session of the African Commission. The statements congratulated the Government of Côte d’Ivoire for adopting the implementation decree for its national human rights defenders protection law. They also raised concerns about the situation of human rights in African countries such as Ethiopia, Burundi and Sudan. The statements also noted the end of Commissioner Alapini-Gansou’s term as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders in Africa.
The third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review should be marked by an increased focus on the participation and protection of human rights defenders and other civil society actors, both in the process itself and through the implementation of recommendations at the national level.
ISHR expresses concern over the degrading situation for defenders and journalists in South Sudan and urges States to support the renewal of the UN Commission on Human Rights in the country.