The UN Human Rights Office and the African Union on Tuesday agreed to enhance their strategic partnership to prevent and address human rights abuses and violations on the African continent, before they grow into full-fledged crises.
Following a High-Level Dialogue on Human Rights at the African Union in Addis Ababa, the visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said the African Union’s work on conflict resolution and conflict prevention “is a lynchpin of stability and security in many troubled regions.”
“Human rights due diligence, and a principled approach that avoids violations against civilians, will make that effort more effective in the short, medium and long term,” Al Hussein said.
“The AU is seeking to strengthen its expertise on human rights monitoring, reporting and prevention of violations. The UN Human Rights Office can share its experience, lessons learned and best practices to help the AU tailor these to the African context while ensuring coherence with the international and regional human rights system.”
The High Commissioner also stressed that human rights and justice are essential to establishing and sustaining peace.
“Sustainable peace will not be assisted by a ‘business as usual’ approach which allows the perpetrators of severe violations to escape justice,” he added.
The two bodies agreed to continue working together to establish a human rights compliance framework for the AU’s peace support operations, to work on widening the democratic space, and to develop and implement a joint AU-UN Framework on Human Rights and Accountability.
The AU and the UN Human Rights Office recognized that discrimination against women and girls is an obstacle to peace and development, and committed to work towards ensuring that “all peoples, even in the most fragile or complex contexts, are able to exercise their rights.”
The High Commissioner also urged the AU to strengthen the role and independence of African human rights institutions – especially the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.