At its 56th Ordinary Session held in Banjul from 21st April to 7th May 2015, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights granted Observer Status to the Universal Rights Group in accordance with the resolution on the Criteria for Granting and Enjoying Observer Status to NGOs Working in the Field of Human and People’s Rights.
This decision as well as the Final Communiqué of the 56th Ordinary Session of the African Commission of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights can be downloaded here.
The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights was established on 2 November 1987 and its secretariat is located in Banjul, The Gambia. The mandate of the Commission is to ensure the protection of human and people’s rights through, inter alia, its communication procedure, the friendly settlement of disputes, state reporting (including NGO’s shadow reports), urgent appeals and other actions by special rapporteurs and working groups, and country missions.
The Commission has a robust relationship with NGOs. Article 45(1) of the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights requires the Commission to cooperate with other African and international institutions concerned with the promotion of and protection of human and peoples’ rights. NGOs play a prominent role in the activities of the Commission, including by drawing its attention to violations of the African Charter, bringing communications on behalf of individuals, and monitoring state compliance with the Charter’s provisions. NGOs participate in the Commission’s public sessions and engage with the reporting procedure by submitting shadow reports and disseminating concluding observations.
URG’s decision to seek Observer Status flows from its mission to go ‘beyond the Council’ (its fourth programme area) to help understand and strengthen the wider international human rights system – including the regional mechanisms, which are playing an increasingly important role in the promotion and protection of human rights.
Reflecting on the granting of Observer Status, Subhas Gujadhur, Director at URG, said: “If it is to have a real impact on people’s lives, the UN’s human rights pillar cannot operate in isolation, but must rather be ‘joined up’ with other relevant parts of the international system including regional organisations and mechanisms. For that reason, URG sought Observer Status at the African Commission in order to work with stakeholders in that system to understand and promote its work, and to analyse its linkages with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms. This also builds on URG’s decision to open hub offices in Hong Kong, Istanbul and Mauritius.”
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