A shared vision

Member States of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, a grouping of 11 African nations, have taken an historic step forward with the establishment of a Regional Center which aims to strengthen good governance, democracy and human rights.

The 11 signatory countries to the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes RegionThe Regional Center for Democracy, Good Governance, Human Rights and Civic Education is based in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. It is the first project to be financed by the signatories (Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia) to the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region.

The Pact signed in 2004 committed those nations to finding lasting peace and security in the Great Lakes Region through shared growth and development and common strategies.

Describing the Center as an “African symbol for justice, good governance and moral authority”, Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, said, “The Center will be vital for transforming the governance structures in the region in the long-term to base them on the rule of law and the realization of human rights for all.”

Without inclusive democracy and an efficient justice system there could not be long-term investment and development. Ambassador Mulamula said resolutions to the conflicts in the region must be accompanied by a justice process. “Our next generations,” she said, “have a right to the truth… the basis for building our future together.”

The Center will fulfil its mandate through research, training, monitoring and reporting and the facilitation of dialogue and consultation. Ambassador Mulamula noted also that the Center through its regional and international relationships will develop an Early Warning System which allows the possibility of linking technical reports to political intervention at the highest level through Foreign Ministers and Heads of States.

Speaking at the opening of the Center, Bacre Waly Ndiaye, Director of the Human Rights Council and Treaties Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said, “The Center demonstrates the strong commitment of the region to promote and protect human rights and good governance.”

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has contributed to the project from its inception through the support and advice of a Regional Human Rights Adviser. The Adviser has mobilised technical and financial assistance for the setting up of the Human Rights Observatory, a critical part of the Center. The Observatory will monitor and analyse the situation on the ground, share information with other institutions in the region and feed assistance and advice into a system aimed at solving existing conflicts and mobilising rapid joint action at the highest level. The Adviser will also play a part in forging links with OHCHR’s Regional Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Yaoundé, central Africa.

4 September 2009