The Forum on NGO Participation in the Work of the 51st Ordinary Session on the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and the 25th African Human Rights Book Fair, organised and facilitated by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies in collaboration with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the NGO Forum Steering Committee was held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, in Banjul, The Gambia from 14-16 April, 2012.
The Forum brought together over 200 participants and facilitators from over 26 countries in Africa and included participants from in Europe, and the United States. The participants and facilitators were generally from Non-Governmental Organisations with a few representatives from National Human Rights Institutions and government non-governmental organisations in the deliberations. Five Commissioners participated at one point or another. A number of Commissioners of the African Commissioners or steered the discussion in the Special Interest Working Groups relevant to their mandates. This participation was noted and welcomed by all participants, which was a source of motivation.
The three-day activity was declared open by Hon. Commissioner Soyata Maiga, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa on behalf of the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR); The keynote address presenting an overview of the situation of human rights and democracy in Africa was delivered by Madame Souhayr Belhassen, President of the FIDH (International Federation of Human rights Leagues). Various representatives including the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Lamin Jobarteh, who welcomed participants; A Representative of the NGO Forum Steering Committee – Mrs. Paulette Oyane-Ondo; and the Executive Director of ACDHRS made statements at the opening ceremony. The occasion was chaired by Mr. Mohammed Mabassa Fall, Executive Committee Member, Governing Council, African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies.
The programme was guided by the provisional agenda for the 51st Ordinary Session of the African Commission circulated prior to this meeting and prepared in consultation with participants and the Secretariat of the African Commission respectively, with the aim to review and formulate strategies and recommendations on the following themes:
As is usual, the sessions were well attended and characterised by a dynamic and interactive participation coupled with a sense of purpose as well as constructive exchanges of information, experiences and expertise. Participants approached their work with much determination, energy and objectivity. We recognized and applaud the progress made by the African Commission and its mechanisms to ensure the effective promotion and protection of human rights in Africa.
The Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the Work of the 51st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights was declared closed by the Chargée d’Affaires of the European Union Mission in the Gambia, Madame Agnés Guillaud. The Representative of the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Dr. Salah Hammad gave an update on the development of the Human Rights Strategy for Africa, the Africa Governance Architecture; the Africa Governance Platform and the Year of Shared Values. Other speakers included H.E. Mrs. Catherine Dupe Atoki, Chairperson of the African Commission and Mr. Mohammed Mabassa Fall on behalf of the Chairperson of the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies; Mr. Abdoul Gadiry Diallo, a member of the NGO Forum Steering Committee. The vote of thanks was made by Sister Gertrude.
On behalf of the Forum, Resolutions and Recommendations have been formulated and will be forwarded, to the African Commission for their kind consideration. The Forum took the liberty of reviewing some of these resolutions and recommendations from the previous Forum. They will also be shared with all interested partners.
It is worthy to note that all the recommendations and resolutions below were adopted unanimously by consensus except for the one on Refugees and Migrants which was put to the vote:
1. Thematic Resolutions
TRES/006/4/12 – Human Rights Defenders (only in french)
2. Thematic Recommendations
3. Country Resolutions
CRES/003/4/12 – Mali (only in french)
CRES/004/4/12 – Somalia
ACDHRS, April 2012 – Banjul, The Gambia