As Member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
During the intersession I conducted the following activities:
1. On 27 November, 2008, I participated in the 14th annual campaign on gender based violence. This campaign was organised against the backdrop of the moves spearheaded by the international community against gender based violence. The traditional theme of this annual campaign was domestic violence and its effects; I gave a detailed account of gender based violence in Benin. Be it physical, verbal or psychological, this violence stems from an array of tendencies which demean women and deny them the enjoyment of their
rights. Hence, it is not only imperative to adopt specific laws in this area but also to espouse sound norms and policies to enable society to face up squarely to gender based violence.
2. From 5th to 7th December, 2008, then from 14th to 20th December, 2008 and finally from 5th to 15th January 2009, I was designated to defend the 2009 budget on behalf of the Commission. The session was held in Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia and I reported back to the 6th extraordinary Session of the African Commission.
3. From 12th to 14th February, 2009, I participated in the follow-up meeting of the network of National Human Rights Institutions in the ECOWAS States. The meeting was held at the Hotel du Lac, in Benin and was organised by the ECOWAS Commission to identify obstacles to the effective dispatch of the human rights promotion and protection mandate of National Human Rights Institutions. Another objective of the meeting was to avail representatives of human rights institutions the opportunity to bring to the fore the different
violations of human rights in ECOWAS member countries and to consider the establishment of a sustainable network of Human Rights Institutions in the sub-region.
Present at the meeting were about forty dignitaries from ECOWAS, the 15 Member countries of ECOWAS, the ‘Francophonie’, the Commonwealth and other bodies.
The meeting discussed the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance at length. Our colleague Catherine Dupe Atoki, graced the occasion and presented a paper on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and on the Rights of the Child.
4. From 23rd to 25th February, 2009, I attended an international meeting in Cotonou, Benin, on the theme: ‘Good Governance, accountability, and responsibility». The international conference was organised by the Human Rights Institute for the Promotion of Democracy and Democracy and Everyday Life, was financed by the UNDF and aimed at meeting the emerging challenges head on as we enter a period of political change and effective separation of powers.
During the conference, several themes were discussed such as good governance, political change and accountability of the different players.
5. On 26th February, 2009, I had a working session with the « Haut Commissariat à la Gouvernance Concertée » (High Commission for Collective Governance) (HCGC) in Benin. The main objective of the meeting was to establish contacts with this authority and to perpetuate the National Dialogue on Human Rights in Benin. Such dialogue was initiated between the members of the civil society and representatives of State Institutions on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, last December.
6. From 4th to 6th March, 2009, I accepted an invitation from the Interparliamentary Union to attend a regional seminar on Human Rights for Francophone African Parliamentarians. The seminar was jointly organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights and the Gabonese Parliament. The theme of this seminar was: « Promoting cooperation at the regional level between Parliaments and organs with a human rights mandate». The objective of this seminar was to outline the role of parliamentarians in the promotion and protection of human rights. This seminar summed up the findings of the preceding national and sub-regional meetings organised since 2007 by the Inter-Parliamentary Union to build the capacity of parliamentarians and officials of francophone African Parliaments and to impress on them the importance of incorporating human rights in the organisation charts and policies of Francophone African Parliaments. I presented a paper on the African Commission as an African regional mechanism for the promotion and protection of human rights. I underscored the need for parliamentarians to familiarise themselves with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and with other relevant African legal instruments and finally to forge ties with the Commission.
7. From 19th to 22nd March, 2009, I attended the Harmonisation and Validation Workshop on the Analytic Study to Identify Gender Specific Discriminatory Clauses and Gender Equality Disparities in the National Laws of ECOWAS Member Countries. These workshops were organised by the ECOWAS Gender Centre (EGDC), in Banjul, the Gambia, to validate the study reports prepared by national experts commissioned by the EGDC, from November to December, 2008. At the end of the workshop, a synthesised report highlighting the achievements, obstacles and prospects in the area of gender in the sub region was presented. Participants at this workshop concluded that gender based discrimination remains topical in Member Countries despite the adoption of laws and the launching of remedial programmes and policies. Governments, civil society, technical partners and all other players should therefore pool their efforts and systematically mainstream gender so as to evolve appropriate strategies for better promotion and protection of the rights of women.
8. From 30th March to 4th April, 2009, I attended the 6th Extraordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights which was held at headquarters, in Banjul, the Gambia. At this session, urgent matters related to our twofold mission of promotion and protection was considered. The meeting identified strategies for the smooth implementation of the Commission’s 2009 programme.
9. From 9th to 11th May 2009, I participated in the NGO Forum for Participation at the 45th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and at the 19th Book Fair. On the sidelines of the Forum, and as a Member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, I participated in working session organised by the Human Rights Centre of the University of Pretoria.
This meeting sought to create ownership of a study commissioned by the International Labour Office in collaboration with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the promotion of the rights of indigenous populations. The title of this study was: « promotion of the rights of indigenous populations in Africa in accordance with the principles of convention n°169 of ILO and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. This was an important working session in that it gave participants an insight into the specificities of the countries covered by the study, and that the resultant document will be beneficial to the Commission and by extension its Working Group on Indigenous Peoples as it will go a long way in alleviating the paucity of material on the subject.
10. On 12th May 2009, I participated in the meeting of representatives of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission. The objective of this meeting was to inform members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and its Secretariat of the mandate and functioning of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission. From the deliberations, it transpired that the two organs, that is the African Commission and Inter-American Human Rights Commission would do well to pursue their partnership if they are to become more efficient in the accomplishment of their mandate.
During the intersession, my activities covered the entire continent. I tried to get to grips with and consolidate my mandate as Member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights both at the national and continental level. To some extent, my presentations at different seminars have contributed to the execution of my mandate as laid down in Article 45 of the Charter. I do believe that Parliamentarians and practicing Legal Practitioners are pivotal to the elaboration of texts which incorporate all aspects of human rights. The Commission should therefore reflect on ways and means of equipping African Parliamentarians to deal with human rights issues and to evolve appropriate strategies for enduring capacity building, considering the crucial role they play in the adoption of national texts, the bedrock of governance in our respective countries.