GENERAL COMMENT 7 STATE OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS IN THE CONTEXT OF PRIVATE PROVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES
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The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights is pleased to present General Comment 7 on State obligations under the AfricanCharter on Human and Peoples’ Rights with regard to social servicesin the context of private provision. This General Comment signals the Commission’s continued interest in this important topic, as expressed in Resolution 420, on the State Obligation to Regulate Private Actors Involved in the Provision of Health and Education Services, and Resolution 434, on the Need to Develop Norms on States’ Obligations to Regulate Private Actors Involved in the Provision of Social Services.
In Resolution 420, the Commission noted with concern that instead of improving access to economic, social and cultural rights, many private actors were increasingly contributing to the ‘low level of enjoyment’ of these rights on the continent. Later, the Commission adopted Resolution 434, mandating the Working Group on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (Working Group) to develop norms to address this problem. Resolution 434, adopted just seven days before the World Health Organisation declared SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) an official pandemic, could not have arrived at a more appropriate time. In the months that followed, Africa saw the full effects of the pandemic, which were exacerbated by decades of underinvestment in public social services on the continent.
In light of these developments, this General Comment reflects many months of research and debate over the Commission’s jurisprudence, its existing soft-law standards, and recent state practice on the continent. In carrying out its task, the Working Group was supported by five partners: the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria; the Dullah Omar Institute, University of the Western Cape; the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR); the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), the Open Society Foundation, and the Right to Education Initiative (RTEI). The Commission could not be more grateful for their invaluable contributions.
The Commission adopted this General Comment on 28 July 2022, during its 72nd Ordinary Session, held virtually.
Commissioner Mudford Mwandenga
Chairperson of the Working Group on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights