AFRICAN COURT ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS
COUR AFRICAINE DES DROITS DE L’HOMME ET DES PEUPLES
P.O Box 6274 Arusha, Tanzania Telephone: Fax. +255 732 979 503
Friday, 24 August 2012
You are cordially invited to
A celebration of fifty years of nationhood at
The Royal Commonwealth Club
on Tuesday 25th September, 2012 at 6.00pm
Guest speaker at 6.30pm
His Excellency Dr Diodorus Kamala
Former Minister for East African Cooperation
followed by a reception with
An exhibition of recent work by
contemporary Tanzanian artists
This will be the Britain-Tanzania Society’s main celebration of this great anniversary. Tickets are available to the Society’s members, on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, for £15.00 each and for their non-member guests at £17.50 each. Please apply by Monday 3rd September
ECA Press Release 134/2012
Addis Ababa, 23 August, 2012 (ECA) - Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has expressed his deep sorrow on the sad and untimely death of Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Mr. Janneh conveyed his heartfelt condolences and that of the entire staff of the United Nations in Ethiopia in an official statement addressed to the Acting Prime Minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn.
Mr. Janneh described the late Prime Minister Meles as “a visionary, dynamic and dedicated leader of Ethiopia and indeed the entire African continent.” He praised his commitment to eradicating poverty in Ethiopia and the transformation of its economy, which he said was “manifested in the success of social programmes and high growth rates that have lifted millions of people out of poverty.”
“His legacy is evident throughout the length and breadth of the country, particularly in the first rate infrastructure that is being constructed in virtually all sectors and the fact that Ethiopia was not found wanting during the last humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa,” added Mr. Janneh.
Underlining his commitment to the Continent, the Under Secretary-General said the passing away of Prime Minister Meles was “a matter of great sorrow for Africa.” He hailed Prime Minister Meles as “a dedicated and committed pan-Africanist” whose passion for the development and transformation of the continent was obvious in his leadership of African Union processes, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the Committee of Heads of State on Climate Change.” Mr. Janneh praised the late Prime Minister for being exemplary, committed and providing insightful direction to these processes, including piloting the African delegation to G20 and G8 meetings.
Mr. Janneh noted that the late Prime Minister’s remit extended beyond development to issues of peace and security and “it was notable that he was able to win the trust of both Sudan and South Sudan in mediating their differences while also supporting efforts to restore order to Somalia.” He added that the late Prime Minister played a unifying role in IGAD, bearing further testimony to the commitment he had for regional and sub-regional causes.
Mr. Janneh stressed that Prime Minister Meles was a constant source of encouragement to the ECA and was unfailing in promoting and supporting the Commission’s initiatives and activities.
He described the statements made by the late Prime Minister at the African Development Forum and the African Union/ECA Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development as “insightful, stimulating and well thought out, serving as reference points for participants in these and other similar events.”
“We are particularly proud of the fact that the late Prime Minister made maximum use of our strengths as an African knowledge institution and amplified our humble contributions in various ways,” said Janneh.
“As we mourn the loss of this great son of Africa, I wish on my own part and on behalf of the staff of the entire United Nations System in Ethiopia to extend sincerest commiserations through you to the wife, children and friends of the late Prime Minister and the entire Government and people of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on this sorrowful event,” said Janneh.
He added that over the past seven years, he had personally benefited from the friendship, guidance and support of Prime Minister Meles with regard to the execution of his duties and responsibilities as Executive Secretary of the ECA.
“I shall eternally be indebted to him and forever cherish his memory,” he said and added: “Our prayers at this time of immense grief are for strength and succor for all the bereaved and for the continued unity and progress of this great African nation which is highly respected in the international community due in no small measure to the efforts of the late Prime Minister.”
The main objective of the Seminar was to raise awareness about the Court in all its dimensions to a wide spectrum of partners of the human rights system from East and North African States, encourage more ratifications of the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and encourage more deposits of the declaration allowing individuals and NGOs direct access to the Court as well as strengthen the partnership with those partners in promoting the Court.
During the three-day seminar the Court and its key partners discussed the ways and means of making the Court more visible throughout the African continent as well as ways of helping the Court effectively achieve its mandate that confers to it a two-fold jurisdiction: the contentious jurisdiction dealing with the interpretation and application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and any other relevant International Human Rights Instruments ratified by African States, and the advisory jurisdiction under which the Court may proffer opinion on any legal matter relating to human rights at the request of an interested State.
In fact, for more than six years of its operation, the Court has been under-utilized for both of its two jurisdictions because, to date, it has received only 24 petitions relating to contentious matters and three requests for advisory opinion. This situation of under-utilization of the Court stems from two main factors. The first one is the fact that the Court is relatively new. In other words, the Court is yet to be well-known to African populations and the various entities entitled to bring cases before it. The second factor is that a few States have ratified the Protocol establishing it. As a matter of fact, out of the 54 Member States of the African Union, only 26 have ratified the Protocol; and in particular, out of the 26 States, only 5 have so far authorized individuals and NGOs to institute cases directly before the African Court.
In an effort to remedy to these challenges that have been hindering its functions, the Court decided since 2010 to undertake a series of promotional activities comprising sensitization seminars like the present one to get both State and non-State players operating in the area of Human Rights to ensure that the States that have not yet to ratified the Protocol do so; and those which have ratified the Protocol authorize individuals and NGOs to institute cases directly before the Court.
In this regard, participants adopted important recommendations for each category of stakeholders to help ensure an effective African Court. The media was encouraged to, among other things, consistently popularize the Court among the different stakeholders, using all the means at their disposal; the National Human Rights Institutions to use the broad powers they are endowed with and their closeness to the authorities to repeatedly sensitize Governments about the Court; Civil society organizations and NGOs to continue to sensitize their members and the public in the different areas in which they operate, and work in a concerted manner with the Court to ensure that it is well known by the people; and Academic institutions to continue, through research, training and teaching, to engage relevant stakeholders.
The Seminar was attended by, amongst others, five Judges of the Court, representatives of AU Organs (Pan African Parliament, African Union Commission, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare on the Child, the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption, African Union Commission on International Law), the President of the East African Court of Justice, the Registrar of the SADC Tribunal, and representatives of other human rights stakeholders from the two regions, including, Bar Associations, National Human Rights Institutions, the Academia, the Media and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The countries represented at the Seminar were: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritania, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.