By: Skylar Salim
Impunity Watch News, Africa
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — On February 9, 2019, an agreement was signed between the United Nations and the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) at the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of African States in Addis Ababa. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and the president of the African court, Sylvain Oré, met and signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
In September, 2018, ACHPR judges and UN human rights experts met to discuss the issue of the death penalty. This meeting in September drove the UN and the Court to negotiate and sign the MoU. The agreement is designed to strengthen the working relationship between the United Nations and the African Court. The African Court is an institution composed of judges from the African Union that meets four times a year. The court works to enhance and protect human rights in Africa. Bachelet has noted that, “The Court is a critically important mechanism for the promotion and protection of peoples’ and human rights in Africa, and it is an invaluable partner in the region”. During the signing ceremony for the MoU, Oré stated, “The Court and the UN Office share common values on humanity, including the culture of promoting and protecting human rights.”
Through the agreement, the UN and the court will work toward supporting each other on international and regional levels. The agreement indicates that the institutions will work together when it comes to conceiving and implementing human rights standards in Africa, and what practices are best suited for regional courts such as the ACHPR. Possible activities discussed in the agreement include the UN increasing their knowledge of the practice and jurisprudence of the ACHPR, while the Court will work to understand the work done by the UN Treaty Bodies. Bachelet observed that, “[the UN] already had a good relationship with African human rights system as a whole.” She went on to note that, “however, with this agreement, we are taking it to another level. It will enable us to improve the synergies between the two organizations. The Court is a critically important mechanism for the promotion and protection of peoples’ and human rights in Africa, and it is an invaluable partner in the region.”
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