Closing Statement by Hon Belinda Bidwell at the 38th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR

Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 38th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and 12th African Human Rights Book Fair

Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Madam Salamatu Sawadogo,

Representative of the Governing Council of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, Mr. Mabassa Fall,

Participants of the Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 38th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Right,

Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

All Protocol respectfully observed

I am honoured by the privilege accorded me, this afternoon, to stand before you and deliver the closing statement on this very important occasion.

I would start by extending the sincere regards of my Hon. Speaker, Sheriff Mustapha Dibba, who could not join us today, due to circumstances beyond his control.

I can tell from the faces around this hall that the three days of the forum were worthily spent.  Although a lot have been achieved over these days, you would no doubt acknowledge the fact that there is still a long way to go in the fight against the unfortunate ills plaguing our continent.

I understand that the biannual NGOs forum preceding the African Commission Sessions is an advocacy strategy of the African Centre for Democracy and Human and Peoples’ Rights, geared towards the promotion of networking among Human Rights NGOs in Africa.  This initiative is indeed very pertinent at this day and age, as the ideology of a ‘global village’ is increasingly becoming a practical reality.  We all know that we need to consult and share our perceptions in order to emerge with realistic outcomes.

This forum is very important not only because of the networking avenue it creates for NGOs, but also because it impacts on the work of the African Commission, which in turn, would be reflected in the work of the African Union.  I am certain that after so much deliberation, you have formulated concrete recommendations/resolutions that could be helpful to the work of the African Commission.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

You would agree with me that this is an era of empowerment and Africa must not be left behind.  Although we continuously seek to universalise the ideology of human rights, we must be realistic and accept the fact that we will have a lot of bottlenecks to overcome.  Over the decades, we have been able to improve the situation of human rights in Africa, but our continent is still soaring with impunity and other forms of human rights violations.  As I speak to you now, women’s rights are violated, children are being captured and forced to serve as soldiers in war zones, refugees are scattered all over the globe, indigenous people are displaced and homeless in their own countries.  As I speak now, human lives are perishing in large numbers, whiles perpetrators of crimes against humanity left to go unpunished.  The list goes on and on.

We must, therefore, redouble our efforts to safeguard humanity.  When we leave this forum for our various countries, let us work to improve our national policies.  Let’s push our governments to ratify, implement and domesticate both international and regional policies.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

It is obvious that the achievement of our goals cannot be realised with an ill informed populace.  Our advocacy must, therefore, not stop at lobbying policy makers.  We must reach out to educate the masses, get them informed about their human rights, thereby arming them to take their density in their own hands.  The nature of human rights is such that it cannot simply be given, we have to earn it by being assertive and claiming for what is rightly ours.  Nevertheless, we do not have to do this in a reckless manner, as recklessness will do us no good.  We must be tactful in our strategies if we wish to be successful in our endeavours.

I cannot conclude this speech without extending a congratulatory message to the organizers and collaborators of this forum.  The African Centre has been organizing this activity since its inception and I am certain that the African Commission has gained a lot from the outcome of such fora.  My appreciation also goes to you, participants and resource persons of this forum.  Your presence and active participation is a true manifestation of your commitment and dedication to the work of human rights in Africa.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

Let me conclude by urging you all to strengthen your ties and dedicate more time to our continent.

On this note, dear brothers and sisters, I have the singular honour and privilege to declare the Forum on the participation of NGOs in the 38th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, closed.

 

I thank you all!