Strengthening ties

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay met with African leaders during an African Union summit, from 2 to 3 February, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay met with African Union chairperson Jean Ping during an African Union summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.. - OHCHR/Addis AbabaAttending the summit at the invitation of the African Union, the High Commissioner raised key human rights issues during a number of bilateral meetings with heads of state and foreign ministers in the region.

The High Commissioner’s visit served to strengthen ties between her Office and the African Union, a continental organization focusing on the promotion of socio-economic development of Africa, in order to address the continent's most critical human rights challenges. She also met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other UN and regional partners.

During her bilateral meetings, the High Commissioner underscored the importance of the Durban Review Conference, a major anti-racism conference scheduled to take place in Geneva, 20 to 24 April, and urged African leaders to provide their full support to the process.

She also raised specific human rights issues on a country-by-country basis. In a brief meeting with President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the High Commissioner expressed her continuing concerns about the dire human rights situation in that country, and insisted on the release of all abductees and detainees, including human rights defender Jestina Mukoko.

In a meeting with Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ato Seyoum Mesfin, the High Commissioner raised the case of detained former judge Birtukan Midkessa, the newly adopted Charities and Societies Proclamation Law which threatens to restrict the activities of civil society, and the human rights situation in the Ogaden region.

February 2009