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Statement made at OHCHR side-event on "Enhancing cooperation between the UN Human Rights Council and African Union Human Rights Mechanisms"


Thursday, 19 September 2013 - 13:30-15:00pm
Room XVI, Palais des Nations, Geneva

Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to open this side event on « enhancing cooperation between the Human Rights Council and the African Union human rights mechanisms ». I would like to welcome our distinguished panellists from the African Commission on Human & Peoples’ Rights, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights & Welfare of the Child and the African Court on Human & Peoples’ Rights. I welcome very much their presence with us today and I would like to commend the excellent work of these three mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa.

I would also like to express my appreciation to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for making possible the organisation of this important event.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A few months ago, I met with Ms. Atoki, the Chair of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ rights, and later, with Dr. Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Chair of the African Committee of experts on the rights and welfare of the Child. We had a very interesting discussion on the similarities between the mechanisms existing at the international and regional level - such as special rapporteurs, committees monitoring the implementation of the conventions, and we agreed on the added value of enhancing interactions and cooperation between these different systems.

We noted that there is not much knowledge of the work of the African human rights mechanisms at the international level and this must change, given that regional mechanisms are often best placed to assess the national and regional contexts; they know better the regional peculiarities that are relevant to the promotion and protection of human rights; and they have updated and relevant information on States, which can be of great benefit to the Human Rights Council mechanisms, such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). I take this opportunity to encourage participation of the African Union mechanisms in the UPR process of African countries, as the Council of Europe does for its member States.

In this spirit, I would like to welcome the increased level of cooperation between the African union human rights mechanisms and the OHCHR. I also commend the agreement on a roadmap for cooperation between the Special rapporteurs of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and the Special Procedures of the Council. Nevertheless, more efforts could be made to foster synergies for an increased collaboration between the African Union and the Human Rights Council mechanisms in particular the Special Procedures and the UPR mechanism.

The Human Rights Council has been looking into the issue of enhancing cooperation and exchange of best practices with all regional and sub-regional human rights mechanisms, especially through the biannual resolution on “regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of Human Rights”, which has been the basis for the organisation of a series of workshops in Geneva in 2008, 2010 and 2012, bringing together the Chairs and experts of different regional systems, including the African one. One should not forget that the founding resolution of the Human Rights Council, General Assembly resolution 60/251, affirms that the Council should work in close cooperation with regional organisations.

I hope this event will enable us to build further bridges between the Council and the African Union human rights mechanisms. This is particularly important as enhancing our cooperation will contribute to the application of international human rights standards in a consistent and uniform manner in all regions, and will serve to reaffirm the universality, interdependence and indivisibility of all human rights for all.

Thank you.