Monday, March 22, 2010

Interview With Ben Kioko, AU Legal Director

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA(MB)-The formulation of a human rights strategy for Africa needs proper coordination, collaboration and coherence among the different actors in the human rights sphere, said Ben Kioko African Union (AU) Legal Director.
Mr. Kioko was speaking in an exclusive interview with our reporter at the Senegambia Beach Hotel on 11 March 2010, shortly after the official opening of a three-day meeting on the African Human Rights Strategy.
According to Kioko, in developing a human rights strategy for Africa, Africa must now move to domestication and implementation of adopted instruments.
When asked to dilate on the objectives of the meeting, Kioko spoke of the challenges that necessitate a more focused and strategic orientation to human rights challenges in Africa.
He also stated that the forum would look at where they have made progress, and challenges and how to shape out solutions and promote human rights in the continent.
Basically, "we will look at how to do things together as actors and what each should do in protecting and promoting human rights in Africa."
"We will engage with approaches that facilitate comprehension of the existing African Union Human Rights Strategy through discussion and making recommendations on the road map and way forward for the human rights strategy".
He added, "To also build synergies between the human rights strategy with other governance initiatives like the evolving African Governance Architecture".
According to Kioko, the forum will serve as a place where by the AU and other stakeholders, civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations work collectively, but not "independently".
According to Kioko, the meeting will establish a basis on which to enhance the implementation and enforceability capacity of African human rights institutions and organs, and will establish the collective actions that needed to be instituted in the human rights arena for the short and long-term.
He reiterated that gaps exist in Africa, and spoke about its human rights situation, saying that some of the instruments are not being implemented by the governments.
These gaps, he went on, can be filled by putting mechanisms to build relationships between the AU and various organs such as CSOs, NGOs and other stakeholders.
The AU Legal Director mentioned that articles 3 and 4 of the AU Constitutive Act lays emphasis on the significance of good governance, the rule of law and human rights, adding that state parties need to abide by them.
He further explained that, "a lot has been done in Africa for the protection and promotion of human rights, but the fact is that there still exists gaps that needed to be filled".
According to Kioko, through the leadership of the AU, Africa has developed a number of initiatives saying that are all aimed at promoting and protecting human rights in Africa.
Similarly, the United Nations has also established global human rights initiatives that, he explained, find practical expression in the African continent.
Ben Kioko stated that the African Union Commission approved a strategic plan for 2009-2012, and that the plan calls for enhanced coordinated actions amongst AU organs.

Africa polio eradication scheme launched
The campaign will target children under the age of five in 19 countriesA campaign has been launched to eradicate polio in west and central Africa, targeting 85 million children.
Some 400,000 health workers and volunteers will go from door-to-door in 19 countries, giving oral polio vaccine to children under the age of five.
Africa has made significant progress in the fight against polio, which attacks the nervous system, but the virus has still not been stamped out.
Previous efforts at eradication failed as too few children were vaccinated.
The effort is a joint campaign by the Red Cross and United Nations.
Many analysts believe the key to its success lies with Nigeria.
In the past, campaigns in the north of the country were met with suspicion by religious leaders, some of whom even suggested the vaccinations were an attempt to spread sterility and HIV.
But religious groups are now showing support for vaccination drives, and correspondents say there is optimism that the debilitating, sometimes fatal, virus can be eradicated.

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