77th Ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
Honourable Commissioner Rémy Ngoy Lumbu
Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
Arusha, Tanzania, 20 October to 9 November 2023
1.This report is submitted in accordance with Rule 16 of the Rules of Procedure (2020) of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Commission) and outlines the activities undertaken in my capacity as Chairperson of the ACHPR during the intersession period since the 75th Ordinary Session of the Commission held in Banjul, The Gambia, from 3 to 23 May 2023.
I.Coordination of the Commission's activities and supervision of the Secretariat's work
2.In accordance with Rule 16 of the Rules of Procedure (2020) of the Commission, I coordinated the promotion and protection activities of Commission members and supervised the work of the Secretariat during the period under review. In this regard, I provided, on a daily basis, 7 days a week, all necessary guidance on various issues for the smooth running of the activities of the Commission and its Secretariat.
3.I also managed the transition process following the departure of the former Secretary Lindiwe Khumalo, who is now working as Clerk of the Pan-African Parliament. In this regard, and to ensure that the Secretariat operates under a leadership with decision-making powers, I was able to obtain from Her Excellency Dr Monique NSANZABAGANWA, Vice-Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the appointment of Ms Abiola Idowu-Ojo as Acting Secretary of the Commission in accordance with the relevant decision (Interoffice Memorandum CDCP/A02/5794.23 of 28 August 2023).
Outcome 1: Improved coordination of the Commissioners’ intersession activities and excellent interaction between the Bureau and the Secretariat in terms of speed in decision-making and the exchange of relevant information on a permanent basis and in real time.
II.Participation in the retreat of the Permanent Representatives’ Committee of the African Union on institutional reforms and other related commitments, 8 to 11 June 2023, Kigali, Rwanda
4.I led a Commission’s delegation to the retreat of the African Union Permanent Representatives Committee on institutional reforms and other related commitments, held from 8 to 11 June 2023, in Kigali, Rwanda. The delegation I led was composed of the Honourable Commissioner Litha Musyimi-Ogana, the former Acting Secretary of the Commission, Mrs. Lindiwe Khumalo and two other members of the Secretariat (Mrs. Abiola Idowu Ojo and Mrs. Grace Joel Murage).
5.The retreat featured presentations by Deloitte and Touche Africa and Maziwisa on the underlying issues, followed by discussions focused on the mandates of some seventy (70) AU organs, institutions and offices, proposed structures/structure revisions; and the division of labour between the AU and the RECs.
6.On this occasion, I expressed the Commission's concerns about certain recommendations concerning the future of the body, in particular the possible merger with certain other bodies and the proposal for shared services between the bodies, developments with several legal and logistical implications.
7.On the sidelines of the retreat, the three main human rights bodies with a judicial or quasi-judicial mandate, namely the Commission, the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, held meetings at technical and political levels to reflect together and formulate recommendations. Speaking with one voice, we reached a number of important common conclusions. We also formulated joint proposals that were submitted to the experts’ firms in charge of the reform.
Outcome: Presentation of concerns on the reform proposals concerning our bodies and submission of joint recommendations by the 3 main bodies with a human rights mandate.
III.International Conference on the Practices of National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) in Africa, 23-24 June 2023, Marrakech, Kingdom of Morocco
8.As Chairperson of the Commission, I participated in and delivered a speech at the opening of the International Conference on "The Practices of National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) in Africa: Emerging Challenges and Opportunities", organized by the Moroccan National Council for Human Rights, as part of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
9.The aim of the conference, which brought together representatives of African NPMs, national human rights institutions, experts and representatives of international and regional organizations and mechanisms, was to review the structural challenges faced by African NPMs, to identify current and emerging practices relating to NPM mandates, and to discuss the challenges and propose solutions.
10.Conference participants had the opportunity to share experiences and good practices, in particular, between NPMs and other actors engaged in the prevention of and fight against torture at continental and international level. The conference also provided an opportunity to identify strategies to promote networking and collaboration in order to maximize the effectiveness of African NPMs.
Outcome: Sharing of experience and best practices between NPMs and other actors and mechanisms engaged in the prevention and fight against torture, and the establishment of a Network of National Mechanisms for the Prevention of Torture (NPMs) in Africa.
IV.Participation in the launch of the National Human Rights Institution of Botswana, 5 July 2023
11.On 5 July 2023, I took part in the launch of the National Human Rights Institution of Botswana. In my speech on that occasion, I congratulated Botswana on this important milestone in the field of human rights. I underscored the crucial role of national institutions in promoting, protecting and monitoring the effective implementation of international human rights standards at the national level.
12. I also noted that the establishment of the NHRI fills a gap in Botswana's human rights architecture and strengthens the country's commitment to human and peoples' rights. I welcomed the forging of a partnership between the newly established NHRI and the Commission, and invited the NHRI to join the dynamic network of thirty-six (36) NHRIs that have been granted affiliate status with the Commission and to enjoy the privileges that this entails.
13.I also reiterated the Commission's gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Botswana for seconding a legal expert to the Secretariat, as part of our close and continuing collaboration.
Outcome: Closer collaboration between the Commission and national human rights institutions and their awareness of the need for affiliate status with the Commission.
V.Participation in meetings of the deliberating bodies of the African Union.
A.Participation in the meetings of the deliberating organs of the African Union held in June and July 2023
14.Along with other members of the Commission, I took part in the following meetings of the deliberating organs of the African Union (AU), organized by videoconference and in person:
46th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC): held virtually from 19 June to 4 July 2023
43rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council: held from 13 to 14 July 2023 in Nairobi (Kenya); and
5th Biannual coordination meeting between the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities and the Regional Mechanisms, 16 July 2023 in Nairobi (Kenya).
15.The Commission’s delegation that I led was composed of the Honourable Commissioner Maya Sahli-Fadel (Vice-Chair); the Honourable Commissioner Maria Teresa Manuela, the Honourable Commissioner Ramatoulie Sallah-Njie, the Honourable Commissioner Litha Musiyini Ogana (Resident Commissioner) and Mrs. Lindiwe Khumalo, former Acting Secretary. The delegation was accompanied by Ms Aminata Jawara Manga and Ms Aji Bajen Jammeh, officials of the Secretariat.
16.During the ordinary session of the PRC, the participants examined various reports, in particular the reports of the AU Commission, namely: the Budget Report, the Peace Fund Report and the Partnership Strategy; the reports on the activities of the PRC Sub-Committees, the reports of the AU Specialized Agencies and Organs, and the Concept Note and the Roadmap relating to the African Union Theme for the Year 2024 on Education. The session also considered the draft agenda and draft decisions of the 43rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council. Following the consideration by the PRC of the reports on all the above agenda items, recommendations were made to the Executive Council for consideration at its session.
17.For its part, the Executive Council considered budgetary issues; African candidacies in the international system; the status of ratification and implementation of OAU/AU treaties; updates on AU institutional reforms and Agenda 2063, elections and appointments, as well as the AU 2024 theme on education.
18.The meeting also addressed the obstacles to continental integration by exploring and providing guidance on ways to strengthen integration, including the promotion of the free movement of persons and the African Passport, the connection of infrastructure, the connection of African financial markets, and an African common market to accelerate trade, agriculture, the creation of enterprises and the transfer of skills in Africa. The Executive Council deliberated on the items on its agenda and took important decisions to be implemented by the AUC and the Organs and Institutions of the African Union.
19.The 5th Biannual Coordination Meeting between the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities and the Regional Mechanisms was held under the theme "Strengthening Synergies in African integration efforts". The meeting brought together the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Regional Mechanisms (RMs) and Member States to review progress on the continental integration agenda.
20.The meeting also addressed the obstacles to continental integration by exploring and providing guidance on ways to strengthen integration, including the promotion of free movement and the African passport, the connection of infrastructure, the connection of African financial markets, and an African common market to accelerate trade, agriculture, the creation of enterprises and the transfer of skills in Africa and provided guidance accordingly. It also considered and adopted the decisions of the Executive Council and the declaration of the 5th Coordination Meeting with amendments.
Outcome: Knowledge of the issues currently being analysed within the African Union has been updated.
B.Participation in the concurrent meetings alongside the meetings of the deliberating organs of the African Union held in July 2023
Signature of the Memoranda of Understanding between the Commission and the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (CAEDBE), 15 July 2023, Nairobi, Kenya
21.Together with the other members of the delegation, I took part in the signing ceremony of the bilateral Memoranda of Understanding with the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (CAEDBE).
22.The respective Memoranda of Understanding, signed on 15 July 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya, on the sidelines of the 57th Biennial Coordination Meeting of the African Union, are the result of a series of bilateral technical meetings held in 2022 with the respective bodies to identify areas of synergy and collaboration, and to agree on indicative activities that could potentially be explored as part of their annual flagship projects.
23.The signing ceremony took place in the presence of the President of PAP, the Honourable Chief Fortune Charumbira Zephania; the President of ECOSOCC, the Honourable Khalid Boudali; the President of CAEDBE, the Honourable Joseph Ndayisenga ; the Honourable Commissioners of the ACHPR present in Nairobi, namely the Vice-President, the Honourable Commissioner Maya Sahli-Fadel, the Honourable Commissioner Maria Teresa Manuela, the Honourable Commissioner Ramatoulie Sallah-Njie and the Honourable Commissioner Litha Musiyini Ogana. The President of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, Lady Justice Imani Daud Aboud, also honoured the occasion with her presence and delivered a message of solidarity and support for this laudable initiative. The ceremony was also attended by officials of the AGM Secretariat, technical officers and staff members of the ACHPR, PAP, ECOSOCC and CAEDBE Secretariats.
-Creation of synergies and cooperation between African Union organs with a human rights mandate and rationalisation of mandates and efforts with a view to better coordination and institutional and programmatic coherence.
-Opening up and decompartmentalising the Commission by creating collaborative gateways.
Participation in the Operational Coordination Session between the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Organs, Agencies and Specialized Bureaus, Nairobi, Kenya, 15 July 2023
24.I participated in the Operational Coordination Session between the AUC and the Bodies, Agencies and Specialized Offices, held on 15 July 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya, on the margins of the 5th Biannual Coordination Meeting. The meeting was organized by the Office of the Director General of the AUC to discuss budgeting, aligning policy and programme development, and improving performance in all areas based on results.
Outcome: Information on cooperation between the African Union and the RECs was updated.
Participation in the Second Political Session of the African Union Inter-Regional Knowledge Exchange (I-RECKE)
25.I also participated in the Second Political Session of the African Union Inter-Regional Knowledge Exchange, which took place on 15 July 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya, on the margins of the 5th Biennial Coordination Meeting, organized by the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the AUC, to discuss inter-regional strategies for the prevention of terrorism and violent extremism. The meeting recalled that the I-RECKE platform is an inclusive centre for the effectiveness of the AU's historical instruments and serves as a knowledge tool from policy to practice and as a coordination mechanism to revitalise early warning systems, preventive diplomacy and mediation as well as the integration of political governance into conflict prevention activities through a regular interface between the AUC and the RECs/RMs.
Outcome: Interactive exchange of experiences and best practices on inter-regional strategies to prevent terrorism and violent extremism.
VI.Presidency of the 76th Ordinary Session, 19 July to 2 August 2023
26.I presided over the work of the 76th Ordinary Private Session, which was held virtually from 19 July to 2 August 2023. The work of this session focused mainly on the consideration of communications, concluding observations on the Periodic Reports of States, other reports and urgent matters arising from previous sessions, and the adoption of resolutions. The Final Communiqué is available on the Commission's website.
Outcome: Reduction in the backlog of outstanding communications; adoption of concluding observations within the time limits set by the Rules of Procedure (2020).
VII.Regional Consultation on the Right to Development as a Human Right and Strengthening the Nexus between Human Rights, Peace and Development in Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 8 September 2023
27.On 8 September 2023, I participated in the Africa-wide regional consultation on the right to development as a human right and strengthening the nexus between human rights, peace and development in Africa.
28.On this occasion, I took part in a panel on the role of human rights bodies in operationalizing the right to development, including the implementation of African continental free trade, during which I made a presentation on the role of the Commission. The panel provided an opportunity for me to raise awareness of African human rights standards on the right to development, to highlight the Commission's contribution to the promotion of the right to development, the African Continental Free Trade Area, peace and security in Africa, the key challenges facing the Commission in operationalizing the right to development and the triple linkage between them.
29.Participants reflected on key actions on how the right to development can be used as a pathway for the implementation of thematic issues such as trade and human rights, climate change and just transition.
Outcome: Contribution to the recommendations of the final document on the pathways to the effective implementation of the right to development as a key factor in conflict prevention and sustainable development.
VIII.Conference on the Implementation and National Impact of the Decisions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, Pretoria, South Africa, 13 - 15 September 2023.
30.I attended the Conference on the Implementation and National Impact of the Decisions of the Commission, held in Pretoria, South Africa, from 13 to 15 September 2023. The objective of the conference was to serve as a platform for intellectual engagement between stakeholders and the Commission on improving compliance with and implementation of its decisions and on the impact of the African Commission's decisions at national level.
31.The three days were devoted to discussing the role and practice of the Commission in implementing its decisions. We also discussed the role of other actors and examined case studies on the implementation and impact of the African Commission's decision.
32.The conference identified obstacles to implementation in the specific cases and proposed strategies and steps to overcome them. It explored the wider impact of the specific case study beyond compliance and implementation.
33.During the conference, I highlighted the major challenges that the Commission continues to face in the implementation of its decisions and recommendations, despite its efforts to ensure that the rights of victims and beneficiaries of established human rights violations are respected by the States Parties concerned.
34.A constructive and frank dialogue, based on case studies on the implementation and impact of Commission decisions, helped to identify the obstacles encountered by the Commission in implementing its decisions, and propose possible strategies and means to overcome them.
35.The Conference underlined that while the rules have been clearly established with regard to implementation and monitoring, their practical application needs to be further examined. To demonstrate this commitment, the Commission intends to streamline the communication process, assign responsibilities and work closely with stakeholders to achieve optimal results.
36.I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organizers of the conference, in particular the University of Pretoria and its Human Rights Centre and the NGO Open Society Foundation.
Outcome: Adoption of concrete measures to monitor the implementation of its decisions, in particular a systematic method for transmitting finalized communications to the national human rights institutions of the countries concerned, in accordance with Rule 125(2) of the Commission's Rules of Procedure (2020).
IX.Executive Committee Retreat, 1st to 3rd October 2023, Kigali, Rwanda
37.I participated in the retreat of the Executive Committee held in Kigali, Rwanda, from 1st to 3rd October 2023, on the theme "Accelerating the implementation of Agenda 2063". The objectives of the retreat were to engage and seek strategic guidance from the Executive Committee on the outcomes of the Special Project on Agenda 2063; to seek political guidance and engagement on the categorization of flagship projects and resource mobilization and to seek political commitment for the joint implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Agenda 2030.
38.During the retreat, discussions focused in particular on the evaluation of the first ten-year plan for the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the review of the second ten-year plan, which runs from 2024 to 2033 and is a decade of acceleration, building on the first which focused on convergence.
Outcome: Increased awareness of and commitment to the findings and recommendations of the evaluation of the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan (FTYIP) of Agenda 2063 and strong ownership of the Second Ten-Year Implementation Plan and its implemented.
X.Participation in the 12th High-Level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance in Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 5 - 6 October 2023
39.I participated in the 12th High-Level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance organized by the African Governance Architecture (AGA) Platform in Addis Ababa, Federal Republic of Ethiopia from 5 to 6 October 2023. The theme of the Dialogue was "Delivering Peace Dividends through the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)".
40.The main stakeholders of the High-Level Dialogue included high-level authorities of African Union (AU) Member States, AU organs and institutions, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Representatives of the PRC Sub-Committee on Human Rights, Representatives of the Peace and Security Corps and other Member States, development partners and agencies, United Nations agencies and other international and continental financial institutions, the media, academics, think tanks and research institutes.
41.The overall objective of the High-Level Dialogue was to assess, identify and explore the normative and structural elements conducive to the achievement of democratic governance, peace and security in Africa, with a focus on the AfCFTA and democratic governance and their links to the achievement of the peace dividend.
42.The various topics covered included analyzing the link between democratic governance, peace, security and development; catalyzing democratic governance and the AfCFTA for a peace dividend; drawing lessons from the RECs on free trade agreements as a panacea for peace; and adopting a multi-sectoral approach to be united in action.
43.The High-Level Dialogue provided a platform for stakeholders to share experiences, draw lessons for solutions and chart a course for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
As a result, the Commission has enhanced its vision of its role in the implementation of the AfCFTA and the promotion of democratic governance, peace and security in Africa.
XI.Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 77th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights in Arusha, Tanzania, 16 to 18 October 2023
44.I participated in the NGO Forum organized as a prelude to the 77th Ordinary Session of the Commission. The theme of the Forum was "The Year of the AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area".
45.Within the framework of this Forum, I participated in the opening and closing ceremonies, during which speeches were made on behalf of the Commission. I also partook in the panels on the implementation of the African Youth Charter in the search for State responsibility for reprisals and judicial executions in Africa and on the analysis of challenges and responses to the shrinking civic space in African societies.
Outcome: Taking stock of the situation of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Africa and propose recommendations and resolutions relating to the areas of concern identified.
XII.Participation in the 6th Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, Arusha, Tanzania, 18 and 19 October 2023
46.I participated in the 6th Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, which was organized as a prelude to the 77th Ordinary Session of the Commission. The theme of the Forum was on "30th Anniversary of the Paris Principles and 20th Anniversary of the Maputo Protocol: Strengthening the role of NHRIs in the protection of the rights of women and other vulnerable groups in Africa".
47.I had the honour of opening this forum on behalf of the African Commission. In my statement, I stressed the importance of solidarity, partnership and collective advocacy in the search for innovative solutions to promote and protect the dignity and rights of every individual.
Outcome: A reminder of the important role played by NHRIs in promoting and protecting the rights of individuals and respect for their dignity.
XI. Publication of press releases / statements
48.I have issued press releases on a number of occasions, in particular, when situations have an impact on human rights or when important events are commemorated.
49.On 25 May 2023, I issued a press release on the commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union. On that occasion, I urged States Parties, national human rights institutions, international organizations and civil society organizations to adopt a human rights-based approach in all the actions they undertake in the conduct of their respective affairs.
50.I also issued a press release on 18 July 2023 on the occasion of the commemoration of Nelson Mandela African Day, in accordance with Resolution CADHP/Res.559 (LXXV) 2023 on the celebration of Nelson Mandela African Day. The theme of the commemoration was "Climate, Food and Solidarity". In this context, the Commission raised public awareness of the seriousness of climate change, which exacerbates the precarious situation of the poorest African populations. I seized this opportunity to call on the States Parties to the Charter to adopt policies, plans and programmes to promote food security and solidarity measures for the most vulnerable communities. An appeal was also made to the various stakeholders to do their utmost to respond to the cry of many communities for social and climate justice.
51.On 9 September 2023, I also issued a press release following the earthquake that struck the Kingdom of Morocco, a Member State of the African Union, on the night of Friday 8 to Saturday 9 September 2023, with a heavy toll in terms of human lives lost, many injured, people reported missing and property literally destroyed. While expressing the Commission's condolences, I recalled that all States remain vulnerable in the face of natural disasters and must rely on the importance of African solidarity.
Outcome: Raising the awareness of the various stakeholders on a number of issues and drawing the attention of the international community to areas of concern that require particular attention.