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“Unity is fundamental in our fight for human rights”, UN and African experts stress on key anniversary

GENEVA / YAMOUSSOUKRO (11 October 2012) – High-level experts of the United Nations Human Rights Council and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights pledged to continue joining hands and minds in the fight for human rights in Africa.

“Unity is fundamental in our action for human rights,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Christof Heyns, to representatives of African States, civil society and other entities gathered in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, the region’s main human rights body.

“We want people to appreciate all the efforts the Commission has made to ensure their human rights are protected. These efforts can only be strengthened by establishing strong partnerships with all the parties involved, as unity can only make us stronger and more effective,” said the Chairperson of the African Commission, Dupe Atoki. “Today is a big day for Africa, as we all get together to discuss the significant achievements of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and steps for the way forward.”

A member of the UN Working Group on business and human rights, Michael Addo, commended the successful collaboration between civil society and the African Commission and considered that this represents excellent practice. “I hope that African civil society will bring its expertise and contribute to the Forum on Business and Human Rights that the Working Group will convene in December 2012,” he stated.

“It is fundamental for all of us to work together in protecting all human rights; first and foremost the right to life for all people on the continent,” underscored the African Commission’s expert on the situation of human rights defenders in Africa, Reine Alapini-Gansou, who last week undertook an official visit to Tunisia jointly with her UN counterpart.

“While we take stock together of progress and remaining challenges, let’s unite to advance human rights and pay special attention to specific groups of rights-holders which may be most at risk of being violated,” underlined the African Rapporteur on women’s rights, Soyata Maiga. “I would like to make an urgent plea that women’s rights throughout the continent be at the forefront of our fight for human rights for all.”

The 52nd session of the African Commission is celebrating the Commission’s 25th anniversary in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, where several hundred of people have met to discuss the human rights situation on the Continent. A delegation composed of Special Procedures Mechanisms of the UN Human Rights Council is also taking part in these celebrations to reiterate their commitment to enhance collaboration as per the Addis Ababa Road Map, the framework guiding such collaboration.

ENDS

For more information, log on to:
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: http://www.ohchr.org
Special Procedures Mechanisms of the UN Human Rights Council: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights: http://www.achpr.org/

For further information and media requests, please contact Federica Donati (+ 41 79 444 3993 / fdonati@ohchr.org) and Boris-Ephrem Tchoumavi (+22 507600101 / betchoumavi@ohchr.org).

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