Resolution on International Humanitarian Law and Armed Conflicts in Africa

We the participants, at the Forum on the Participation of NGOs at the 34th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and at the 8th Book Fair on Human Rights in Africa, held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel, Banjul, from 3rd to 5th November, 2003,

Considering the persistence of armed conflicts and their serious humanitarian consequences;

Apprehensive about the serious violations of the fundamental rights and of international humanitarian law in conflict situations in Africa;

Apprehensive about the lot of children and women in armed conflicts;

Taking note of the blocking of humanitarian assistance in certain conflict situations;

Recalling the obligations of states to abide by and to ensure abidance with International Humanitarian Law;

We call on the African Commission urges states to:

1. Further the promotion of International Humanitarian Law through its systematic assimilation in its civil and military training programmes;

2. Punish all serious infringements of International Humanitarian Law;

3. Implement the pertinent instruments of International Humanitarian Law, and its Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular, as regards its implication for children living in conflict situations;

4. Facilitate neutral and impartial humanitarian assistance to victims of armed conflict;

5. Accord special attention to the question of displaced and missing persons fleeing from armed conflict, internal unrest and tensions.

Done in Banjul on 5th November, 2003

Resolution on Periodic, Free and Fair Elections in Africa

We the participants, at the Forum on the Participation of NGOs at the 34th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and at the 8th Book Fair on Human Rights in Africa, held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel, Banjul, from 3rd to 5th November, 2003,

Recalling Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which bestows on all citizens “the right to participate freely in the public affairs of their country either directly or through the intermediary of freely elected representatives”;

Recalling the final communiqué of the Pretoria Conference on elections, democracy and governance, held in South Africa from 7th to 10th April, 2003;

Persuaded that periodic, free and democratic elections contribute towards the establishment of the Rule of Law and peace;

Aware that by refusing or hampering political change through electoral and constitutional manipulations, through violations of freedom of expression and of the press, and the perpetuation of a system of corruption, certain States are stemming the progress of the democratic process on the African Continent.;

Recalling that the organization of periodic, fair election is fundamental to the furtherance of the responsibility of representatives in the eyes of the citizens;

Reaffirming that citizens should be able to forge their opinion independently, without falling prey to violence or threats of violence, coercion, lures of gratification or other manipulative ploys;

Underscoring the fact that the right to freedom of expression, assembly, and association is an essential condition for the effective exercise of the right to vote and should therefore be fully safeguarded;

Noting that all citizens should be availed the opportunity to exercise their rights without any distinction of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national or social origin, lot in life, birth or any other situation;

Exhort all States:

• to abide by the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

• to set up an independent, transparent, electoral authority of a pluralist composition to monitor the electoral process and ensure that elections are held in an atmosphere of equity and impartiality during the :

o run-up to campaigns,
o conduct of the campaigns
o conduct of the elections
o proclamation of results

• to uphold freedom of expression, assembly, movement of civil society Associations, and members of political parties;

• afford the parties vying for the elections equal and free access to the media;

• provide for the presence of national and international observers, mandated to guarantee the credibility and transparency of elections;

• to report to the Commission on the rules governing the right to vote, and explain the manner in which these rules were applied during the period covered by the report;

Done in Banjul, on 5th November, 2003

Resolution on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)

We the participants, at the Forum on the Participation of NGOs at the 34th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and at the 8th Book Fair on Human Rights in Africa, held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel, Banjul, from 3rd to 5th November, 2003,

Considering the principle of indivisibility of human rights, enshrined in the Preamble of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

Recalling the importance of economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development as stipulated in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

Conscious of the importance of being answerable for economic social and cultural rights in order to safeguard the right of all individuals to exercise their rights before an independent authority;

Recalling the responsibility of States to indiscriminately afford access to basic services such as water, education, health, and housing;

Recalling that all development policies should be implemented in strict accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its subsequent texts;

Saluting the African States for their willingness to take the development of Africa into their hands, particularly within the framework of The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) founded on the “Declaration on Democracy and Good Governance”;

Reaffirming the Declaration on Democracy, Political and Economic Good Governance and NEPAD’s efforts founded on the regional and international instruments governing human rights, This places NEPAD squarely within the ambit of Human Rights;

Lauding the creation of an African mechanism for peer review, whose mandate is to monitor conformity by the Partner States with the fundamental tenets enshrined in the Declaration on Democracy and Good Governance;

Expressing satisfaction at the nomination of the Eminent Persons Group (Panel) and welcoming the launching of the Peer Review process at the end of 2003;

The participants at the NGO Forum calls on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ rights:

To ensure that the Peer Review mechanism, includes the international and regional provisions on the protection of Human Rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights in its evaluation criteria of States’ development policies;

To allow for Civil Society participation in this mechanism, especially in the submission of alternative reports

Invite all the countries of the African Union to join the Peer Review Mechanism;

Exhort NEPAD Partner States to reserve a prominent position for Human Rights in the definition of development policies for the African continent;

Exhort NEPAD Partner States to streamline the gender dimension into all NEPAD projects;

Exhort NEPAD Partner States to prioritise the allocation of investments funds and give priority to basic social services such as Education, Health and access to water;

Ensure that the HIV/AIDS pandemic is given due prominence in the implementation of NEPAD and in the allocation of Resources;

Ensure that African Civil Society has access to information on NEPAD programmes;

Done in Banjul, on 5th November, 2003

Resolution on the Situation of Women in Africa

The Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 34th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Eighth Human Rights Book Fair, Held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel in Banjul, from November 3-5 2003,

Noting that 22 years after the adoption of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights by the Assembly of Heads of States at its 18th Session n 1981, the situation of human rights of African women continue to be bleak.

Noting further that African women continue to suffer fro violence and discrimination meted out n the name of culture and religion and also sanctioned legally in some cases;

Considering the fact that women in Africa continue to suffer fro harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, abduction, forced and early marriages, “trokosi” (slavery practice), wife inheritance upon the death of a husband and degrading and humiliating rituals imposed on widows;

Concerned about women’s lack of access to land and ownership of land, discrimination in law and discrimination in the political process;

The Participants of the Forum call on the African Commission to urge State Parties to:

a) Take action to reverse the above described situation in order to improve the human rights situation of African women.

b) Increase their efforts to end harmful traditional practices by introducing legislations against such practices where it does not exist and also enforcing the law where it exist as well as to complement legislation with resources allocation for sensitising communities against these harmful practices and training law enforcement agents to take necessary action to protect girls and women from these practices.

c) Take steps to repeal constitutional provisions that impose customary practices as the primary rule for matters concerning family law, and instead domesticate the provisions outlined in CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women) and other important covenants that African States have signed and ratified.

d) Adopt affirmative action policies to increase women’s access to social, economic and political rights.

Done in Banjul, November 5th, 2003

Resolution on the Situation of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples in Africa

The Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 34th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Eighth Human Rights Book Fair, held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel in Banjul, from November 3-5 2003,

Mindful of the fundamental importance of recognising minorities and indigenous peoples within African countries and in the constitutions of those countries as essential to securing their rights and to the promotion of constructive co-existence, conflict prevention and sustainable development;

Recognising the standards in international law for the promotion and protection of the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples, including as articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (UNDM), the International Labour Convention (ILO) 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC);

Considering the emphasis given in international law to self-identification as the primary criterion for the determination of who constitutes a minority or indigenous person; and the importance of effective and meaningful participation and of non-discrimination, including with regard to the right to education;

Alarmed by the armed conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan;

Emphasising the essential integration of the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples in the processes and outcomes of development;

Concerned by the ongoing plight of non-citizens in various African countries, and the double discrimination faced by women and the people living with disabilities, who are also members of minority and indigenous communities;

Alarmed by the acts of cannibalism that have recently been brought to light against the Batwa in the Democratic Republic of Congo;

The NGO Forum calls on the Commission to urge African Governments to:

Recognise the existence of minorities and indigenous peoples including through the entrenchment of their rights within national constitutions;

Ensure open, just and transparent methods for granting legal status to domestic NGOs, which is a necessary requirement, inter alia, to allow minorities and indigenous peoples’ organisations to function as well as to enable them to apply for Observer Status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

Secure the participation rights of minorities and indigenous peoples without any form of discrimination in: all political bodies and institutions; within decision-making processes; within processes aimed at conflict resolution; in the allocation and distribution of land and in access to natural resources, most notably in cases where they have been expelled from their traditional lands, cut off from traditional means of livelihood and denied the opportunity to benefit from the natural resources located on these lands, such as in Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Botswana and Namibia;

Progressively realise the right to education of minorities and indigenous peoples with the aim of strengthening their capacity to participate in decision-making processes that affect them and the countries in which they live;

Implement fully, the vital points articulated by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in their Recommendations issued on the Rights of Indigenous Children (Committee on the Rights of the Child, 34th Session, September 15-October 3 2003);

The NGO Forum calls upon the African Commission to:

Question the Delegation of the DRC on the omission of any reference to the Batwa in their Periodic Report being considered at this 34th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

Consider methods of addressing the impunity with which the perpetrators of cannibalism against the Batwa in the DRC are being allowed to function;

Address in its work during this session and in future sessions the insufficient degree to which The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) fulfils the requirements of a right to development as addressed in the 5th Report of the UN Independent Expert on the Right to Development (UN Doc. E/CN.4/2002/WG.18/6);

Consider submitting a statement on the situation of non-citizens in Africa to the forthcoming thematic sessions on discrimination and non-citizens being held under the auspices of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in February-March 2004;

Adoptthe Report of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in the knowledge that the NGO Forum supports its findings;

Highlight its concerns during the consideration of the Periodic Report of Sudan at this session regarding the continuous targeting of civilians by the Government forces and the Government’s reluctance to allow humanitarian and human rights organisations access to all regions despite the positive developments in relation to peace negotiations.

Done in Banjul, November 5th, 2003

Resolution on the Rights of Victims of the Lockerbie and DC10 Attacks

We the participants, at the Forum on the Participation of NGOs at the 34th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and at the 8th Book Fair on Human Rights in Africa, held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel, Banjul, from 3rd to 5th November, 2003,

Firmly condemning all acts of terrorism and the destruction of the Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie (Scotland) and Union of Air Transport Flight 772 over Niger;

Considering Libya’s declared will to take measures namely by assuming responsibility for the actions of Libyan representatives and the payment of appropriate compensation;

Considering Security Council Resolution 1506 of 12 September, 2003 lifting sanctions against Libya;

Recalling the right of the victims’ families to compensation;

Urge the Libyan authorities to take all necessary steps to come up with a rapid, just and equitable compensation for all the families of the victims of the two disasters, in accordance with the United Nations’ Security Council Resolutions 731 (1992), 748 (1992), 883(1993), 1192 (1998);

Recommend that Member States of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights prevail on Libya to:

  • fulfil its commitments to the victims’ families;
  • comply fully with the regional and international Instruments on the Protection of Human Rights binding on Libya.

Done in Banjul, November 5th, 2003

Resolution on the Situation in Darfur (Western Sudan)

The Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 34th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Eighth Human Rights Book Fair, Held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel in Banjul, from November 3-5 2003,

Considering the provisions of the Constitutive Act of the African Union as well as those of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which require that African States undertake all the necessary measures to ensure the safety and personal security of all individuals living within their geographic boundaries without distinction on any ground;

Mindful that the Sudan is a State party to the aforementioned instruments and, therefore, it is morally and legally bound to fully and effectively implement their provisions and respect and promote the human and peoples’ rights concepts set therein;

Alarmed by the numerous reports by UN agencies, and by national and international human rights organisations and that such reports continue to document massive and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in many parts of the country despite the ongoing peace negotiations to end the civil wars in the Southern and Central regions of the country;

Deeply disturbed by the devastating armed conflict between the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Government and its allied militia groups that erupted in the Darfur region since March 2003 and in which indiscriminate aerial bombardment by Government military jets and ground assaults by the army and its allied militia groups are routinely conducted and that thousands of innocent civilians, mainly from the Black African tribes of the region in particular members of the Fur, Zagghawa, Massaleet and other African tribes, have lost their lives as a result of these military operations;

Alarmed further that the armed conflict in Darfur has caused massive internal displacement of at least half a million person mainly from among the African tribes and that these persons currently live in abject poverty around major towns of the region as they lost all their property and livelihood while others, in particular women, children and the elderly, were forced to seek refuge in neighbouring Chad;

Deeply concerned that various reports issued by UN Agencies and other international humanitarian organisations indicated that the internally displaced persons, refugees and those affected by the armed conflict in the Darfur region are living under precarious conditions without enough food, shelter, sanitation or medical services and that these persons lack safety and security;

Noting with appreciation the important role being played by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, humanitarian organisations and the Government of Chad in the provision of relief material to refugees from Darfur despite the difficulties they encounter and that the Government of Sudan has not yet allowed UN agencies and humanitarian organisations access to the affected persons inside the Darfur region;

We call on the Government of Sudan to undertake the following measures:

1. It should fully and unconditionally respect its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as other regional and international human rights treaties to which the Sudan is a State Party.

2. Undertakes immediate measures to end the military operations in the Darfur region and in particular arrest military activities by its allied militia groups, compensate the victims of atrocities and bring those responsible for the crimes committed in the region to justice.

3. Dissolves and outlaws all groups and organisations known to be committing killings and violence or propagating racial hatred and intolerance in the Darfur region in particular the Janjaweed and Murahleen militia groups as well as the Arab Congregation and its affiliates Gureesh I and Gureesh II which were established since 1988.

4. Rebuilds the destroyed areas, reinstate the displaced persons in their original villages, and ensure their safety and personal security and that immediate measures be undertaken to end the growing tendency of confiscation of land and property owned by African tribes by other groups.

5. The Government should embark on a genuine process of reconciliation, democratisation and development in the Darfur region by addressing the root causes of the ongoing crisis and work out a lasting solution to the problems of exploitation and underdevelopment faced by the people of the region.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

6. We call upon the 34th Ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to take up the situation of human and peoples’ rights in the Darfur region in its present session and undertake all possible measures to ensure that these violations come to a halt as a matter of priority.

Done in Banjul, November 5th, 2003

Resolution on the Situation in Guinea Bissau

We the participants, at the Forum on the Participation of NGOs at the 34th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and at the 8th Book Fair on Human Rights in Africa, held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel, Banjul, from 3rd to 5th November, 2003,

Recalling article 13(1) of the African Charter for Human and Peoples’ Rights which bestows on all citizens “the right to participate freely in the public affairs of their country either directly or through the intermediary of freely elected representatives….”;

Cognisant that the political change of the14th September, 2003, ran counter to the democratic process for the accession to power;

Aware of the general institutional breakdown prevailing in the country with its plethora of privations endured by the civilian population;

Recalling the importance of holding free, fair and pluralist elections to re-establish the legitimate public institutions;

Call on the Provisional Authorities in Guinea Bissau:

o to uphold the provisions of the African Charter for Human and Peoples’ Rights ;
o to keep to the timetable for legislative and presidential elections drawn up under the aegis of the African Union, that is March 2004 and August 2005, respectively;

Call on the International Community to urgently resume cooperation with Guinea Bissau, gauge the actual requirements for minimum macro- economic stabilisation, in order to bolster the on-going confidence building process and the planned transition;

Done in Banjul on 5th November, 2003

Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Africa

The Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 34th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Eighth Human Rights Book Fair, Held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel in Banjul, from November 3-5 2003,

Recalling that the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights recognises that “the Commission shall draw inspiration from international instruments on human and peoples’ rights” and considering in particular articles 9(2), 10(1), 12(1) and 12(2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

Considering the adoption by consensus on 9th December 1998 of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Declaration on Human Rights Defenders);

Considering the work and mandate of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of Human Rights Defenders;

Considering the address made by the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of Human Rights Defenders at the 31st Ordinary Session of the Commission held in Tshwane, South Africa from 2 to 16 May 2002;

Mindful that in the Grand Bay (Mauritius) Declaration, the Organisation of African Unity called on African Governments “to take appropriate steps to implement the U N Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in Africa”;

Recording the decision of the Commission to include the consideration of the situation of human rights defenders in Africa as a fixed item on its agenda (item 6);

Recalling its debates at previous Sessions on the situation of human rights defenders in Africa;

Noting the Report of the United Nations Secretary- General on Human Rights Defenders reminding that human rights defenders “form the base that regional and international human rights organizations and mechanisms build upon in the promotion and protection of human rights” and that “as a result of their involvement in the struggle for human rights, the defenders are often the first victims of human rights violations”[1];

Concerned over the persistence in Africa of actions that directly or indirectly prevent or hinder the work and security of individuals, groups or organisations working to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights, including obstacles on access to funding for human rights activities;

Gravely concerned about the growing risks faced by human rights defenders and their families in the context of anti-terrorist measures and security legislation in Africa;

Noting with deep concern that impunity for threats, attacks and acts of intimidation against human rights defenders persists and that this impacts negatively on the work and safety of human rights defenders :

1. Expresses deep concern over the continued persecution of human rights defenders in Africa;

2. Reiterates its support for the work carried out by human rights defenders in Africa and recognises their crucial contribution to the protection and promotion of human  and peoples’ rights in the continent;

3. Calls upon African States to promote and give full effect to the  UN  Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;

4. Calls upon African States to take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders;

5. Invites all Commissioners carrying out promotional activities and in particular the Special Rapporteurs of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to examine the situation of human rights defenders in the countries they visit and to enquire with the relevant national authorities on the measures taken to ensure human rights defenders can carry out their activities freely;

6. Further Invites African States to include information on measures taken to protect human rights defenders in their periodic reports to the Commission;

7. Decides to establish a focal point/Special Rapporteur [within the ACHPRs] to seek, receive, examine and respond to information on the situation and rights of human rights defenders and to communicate and exchange information with States, the United Nations and in particular with the UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders; with non-governmental organisations and other interested parties;

8. Urges African governments to cooperate and assist the UN Special Representative as well as the focal point/Special Rapporteur of the Commission in the performance of their tasks and to furnish all information for the fulfilment of their mandate upon request;

9. Requests the OAU/AU, ECOWAS, SADC and other sub-regional organisations to provide all possible assistance and support to the Commission in the implementation of this resolution;

10. Asks the focal point/Special Rapporteur of the Commission to report at the 35th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the implementation of this Resolution;

11. Decides to continue consideration of the question of human rights defenders as a matter of priority at its next session.

Done in Banjul, November 5th , 2003


[1] UN General Assembly, A/55/292 Distr.: General, 11 August 2000

Resolution on the Death Penalty on Africa

We the participants, at the Forum on the Participation of NGOs at the 34th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and at the 8th Book Fair on Human Rights in Africa, held at the Corinthia Atlantic Hotel, Banjul, from 3rd to 5th November, 2003,

Recalling Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which asserts the right to life for all individuals, article 3 of the International Pact relative to civil and political rights, as well as article 6 and paragraph a) of article 37 of the Convention regarding the Rights of the Child;

Also Recalling United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2857 (XXV1) and 32/61, dated 20 December 1971 and 8 December, 1977 respectively, as well as Resolution 44/128 of 15 December, 1989, in which the General Assembly adopted and opened for signing, ratification and support the second Optional Protocol to the International Pact pertaining to civil and political liberties, aimed at abolishing the death penalty;

Recalling article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights guaranteeing the right to life, articles 5.3 and 30.(e) of the African Charter on the Rights and Well-Being of the Child stipulating that children committing crimes shall not be sentenced to death and prohibits that the death penalty be passed on mother of minors;

Recalling Article 4.j) of the Protocol of the African Convention on Human and People’s Rights relative to Women’s rights in Africa which stipulates that in countries where this penalty still exists, the death penalty shall not be pronounced against pregnant or nursing mothers;

Recalling the resolution of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights dated, 15 November, 1999, urging States to implement a moratorium on executions and encouraging them to abolish the death penalty;

Taking note of the fact that sentencing to capital punishment is often conducted in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner;

Deeply concerned at certain countries’ application of the death penalty without taking into account of the limits set out in the Pact and in the Convention relative to the Rights of the Child, and the guarantees for the safeguard of the of the rights of the person facing the death penalty;

The Participants of the Forum call on the Commission to:

1. Encourage all the States in Africa which have not yet abolished the death penalty to do so once and for all;

2. Appeal to all States which maintain the death penalty:

a) to refrain from sentencing youths under the age of 18 years, pregnant women, mothers with very young children or mentally challenged people to death;

b) to only pass a death penalty on the basis of a final judgment pronounced by a competent, independent and impartial court and to guarantee the right to a fair trial;

c) to ensure that all the legal procedures especially those engaged before emergency tribunals are in conformity with the guaranties attendant to the procedures stipulated in article 14 of the International pact on civil and political rights;

d) ensure that the death penalty is not pronounced for non-violent actions such as religious practice and/or the expression of beliefs or sexual relations between consenting adults;

e) to ensure the immediate cessation of all forms of execution especially cruel or inhuman punishments, such as death by stoning or crucifixion;

f) to institute a moratorium on all executions;

g) to make public all information on the enforcement of the death sentence;

3. Appeal to States to refuse to extradite persons likely to be sentenced to death in the country of extradition;

4. Urge the Commission to include the question of the Death Penalty in its Agenda for the 35th Session.

Done in Banjul, November 5th, 2003.