The 15th African Union (AU) – European Union (EU) Human Rights Dialogue took place on 19 October 2019 in Banjul, The Gambia, on the margins of the 65th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
- The Dialogue was led by H.E. Amb. Minata Samate Cessouma, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, and H.E. Mr. Eamon Gilmore, EU Special Representative for Human Rights. The AU participants included: Hon. Justice Sylvain ORE, President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR); Hon. Maya SAHLI-FADEL, Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on behalf of the Chairperson; Hon. Mrs. Dikere Marie Christine Bocoum, Vice-Chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC).
- Both parties underlined the strategic relevance of the annual Human Rights Dialogue as a platform to ensuring full convergence of objectives and continuity of actions on human rights, democracy and good governance.
- Both sides expressed commitment to expedite the ratification, domestication, and implementation of regional and international human rights instruments. The EU will further contribute to strengthening the African governance architecture and the African Human Rights System, and will continue to support the work of the African Union’s organs in this regards.
- The AU and the EU discussed recent developments in Africa and Europe in the area of human rights, notably progress made by the AU organs tasked with a human rights mandate, in particular the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR). The EU emphasised the importance of improving the effectiveness of justice systems in ensuring the rule of law and the protection of human rights. Both agreed to take the necessary steps, including mutual learning and exchange of best practices, to enhance the promotion and protection of human rights.
- The EU welcomes the 2019 theme of the African Union: Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solution to Forced Displacement in Africa, which coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention and the 10th Anniversary of the 2009 AU Convention on the Protection and Assistance for Internally Displaced Persons in Africa. In this regard, both parties value the conclusions and the recommendations of the 9th AU-EU CSO Seminar on “Ensuring respect for human rights in the context of migration and forced displacement”, which took place on the margins of this Human Rights Dialogue.
- The EU expressed appreciation for the recent adoption by the AU of the Transitional Justice Policy. As the only two regional organisations with a dedicated policy framework for Transitional Justice, the AU and the EU are committed to work closely, including by means of exchange of best practices, to translate the commitment into concrete actions. In this spirit, both parties welcomed the proposal to organise an expert seminar in Europe/Brussels in 2020. Both parties also recalled the imperative to address impunity and reiterated their commitment to regional and international criminal justice. In this regards, the EU welcomed the ICC retreat promoting dialogue between African State Parties to the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court, which took place in Addis Ababa in June 2019.
- The AU and the EU commended the key role of civil society as a crucial component of any democratic system and an important player in fostering peace and security, and achieving inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. Both parties committed to work together to promote and protect an open and enabling space for civil society and Human Rights Defenders and to support their daily work on both continents.
- Both parties fully agreed on the importance of monitoring and reporting as strategic tools to collect and analyse information of the human rights situation of specific cases, engage in dialogue with duty bearers, advocate positive change and propose recommendations for corrective actions. The AU shared its experience with carrying out human rights observer missions, and announced its intention to further intensify this work in the future. It expressed its appreciation for the EU support to the human rights observer mission in Burundi. In this vein, the AU and the EU committed to work constructively with all key actors with similar mandates, in particular civil society organisations, National Human Rights Institutions, UN field presences, including OHCHR country offices.
- Furthermore, the EU stands ready to further support the AU towards the adoption of the Protocol to the African Charter on Abolishing the Death Penalty in Africa. The AU and the EU welcomed the recent positive steps taken by The Gambia, The Republic of Congo, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Morocco, in contribution to moving towards the continental abolition of the death penalty.
- The AU and the EU reaffirmed the importance of promoting cross-regional co-operation, based on shared values and mutual interests, as an essential element of an effective, relevant and resilient multilateral system. Both parties will continue to attach the greatest importance to constructive cooperation in the framework of the United Nations Human Rights Council and United Nations General Assembly.
- Both parties also welcomed the recent positive steps taken by Angola and South Africa towards the ratification of the core instruments against torture. Facilitate networking, mutual learning and the exchanges of best practises remains of utmost importance to prevent and eliminate torture and ill-treatment.
- 12. The EU expressed appreciation for the efforts towards the finalisation of the AU Business and Human Rights Policy, in compliance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The AU thanked the EU for its valuable cooperation and partnership in finalising the Policy document through continued consultations. Both parties agreed to continue cooperating on the implementation of this policy once adopted. The AU agreed to take part in the EU-organised event dedicated to the role of regional organisations on advancing business and human rights and to partner, support the AU initiative and exchange experiences within the framework of the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights.
- The AU and the EU acknowledged the added value of the on-going cooperation in the area of election observation and the follow-up to Election observation missions, and committed to continue to remain engaged in this matter.
- Both parties agreed on the importance of having a concrete and focused approached to commitments and follow up to the Dialogues. In this vein, they agreed on the necessity to make sure that the Dialogues are not stand alone annual events, but part of a continued engagement.
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