African Democracy Forum
Building Democracy for Peace, Development,
and Human Rights in Africa
17-18 July, 2005
The African Democracy Forum (ADF) Annual Meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, on 17-18 July, 2005,
brought together nearly 50 ADF members to discuss some major challenges in promoting
democracy in Africa, such as violations of the Constitution, African human rights movements, and
linkages between democracy and human development. This Annual Meeting also provided a
space for the ADF members to have a dialogue with government officials and policy makers.
Based on the two-day discussion and information sharing, the participants developed a list of
suggestion for the ADF activities and priorities. In addition, many participants agreed to continue
their discussion through online discussion groups that the ADF Secretariat would set up.
The ADF Annual Meeting was opened by remarks from Dr. Ayesha Imam (Nigeria), Chair of the
ADF Management Committee, and Mr. Ernest Mpararo (Democratic Republic of Congo), member
of the ADF Management Committee. In her remarks, Dr. Imam emphasized the importance of
African ownership over the agenda for democracy building in Africa, and reminded all the
participants that the ADF is the network of African democrats that provides the ownership over
the development of the democracy agenda in Africa. Mr. Mpararo called for a need of
empowering ourselves (African) through sharing our own experiences and expertise.
PLENARY SESSION: REPORT AND EVALUATION OF ADF ACTIVITIES
The report was presented (please find the copy of the report attached), and the participants
accepted the report. While congratulating the progress that the ADF has made, the participants
made the following comments:
Newsletter: The ADF newsletter is currently circulated by e-mail only. Some participants
requested that a print version of the ADF newsletter should be circulated. This print
version is particularly for those ADF members who do not have sufficient Internet access
to get an electronic version. Another suggestion was that the ADF members be given
clearer instructions on how they can contribute. In addition, it was recommended that the
ADF Newsletter should be circulated beyond the ADF members.
E-mail List-serv: With acknowledgement of the limited access to the Internet that faces
many ADF members, it was suggested that the ADF Secretariat conduct a survey on how
the ADF can organize information sharing alternatively. The participants also called for
more constructive moderation/facilitation to have more effective communication and
discussion online. Finally, ADF members should be encouraged to respond in a short
message to build solidarity while in their busy schedule. A summary of online
discussions should be included in the Newsletter.
Concerning the low level of participation from the ADF members in ADF activities, particularly the
information-sharing through the list-serv and online discussion, the participants questioned an
issue of members‟ commitment. They also emphasized that it is important to define clear
expectations from and/or obligations of ADF members. These issues of membership need to be
addressed in the ADF Constitution.
Participants made the following suggestions for the ADF activities:
Online Discussions: The ADF should engage in various international initiatives and discussions
concerning Africa. For example, the recent discussion on debt relief at G8 Summit in Scotland
and the Global Action against Poverty are very relevant to the development of democracy in
Africa. Discussions on these issues should take place through the ADF list-serv and Website.
Public Statement: If the ADF intends to build solidarity among African democrats, the ADF might
need to make public statements on particular issues and situations that are against democratic
principles. Therefore, it was suggested that the ADF set a certain principle, on basis of which the
ADF Management Committee make a decision on whether the ADF should make a statement or
not. However, the participants recognized that not all ADF members would necessarily agree on
what a statement should say in some cases. In these cases, the ADF Secretariat would draft a
statement and circulate it among those of the ADF members who would want to sign.
Election Monitoring: The participants expressed strong interest in participating in election
monitoring missions and suggested that the ADF send a delegation/mission to election
monitoring. However, it was recognized that many African organizations, such as IDASA and the
Electoral Institute for Southern Africa, had already conducted election monitoring and that it would
be more important for the ADF to encourage ADF members to participate in those activities.
Also, the participants acknowledged that some countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa,
had a number of domestic election monitoring groups, and many of them are members of the
ADF. Therefore, the participants suggested that the ADF facilitate exchanges of experiences
among the ADF members for domestic monitoring and that using the expertise among the ADF
members, the ADF facilitate training on domestic monitoring for other ADF members from
countries that have weak domestic monitoring groups.
Gender Issue: The participants strongly pointed out that the ADF needed to bring gender
balance/equality throughout ADF activities.
PLENARY SESSION: THE NEW PARTNERSHIP FOR AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT (NEPAD)
AND THE AFRICAN PEER REVIEW MECHANISM (APRM)
During the session on the New Partnership for Africa‟s Development (NEPAD) and the African
Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), Amb. Issac Aluko-Olokun (Nigeria) explained the origins of
NEPAD and of APRM and their objectives. NEPAD was adapted by the African Union (AU) in
Lusaka in July 2003, and later became a socio-economic program of the AU. By developing and
adapting NEPAD, African leaders recognized that a major problem in Africa was a lack of good
governance, and that it was important to make efforts to solve African problems by Africans.
In their efforts in solving African problems by Africans, the African Peer Review Mechanism was
initiated, and currently 22 countries have joined in the APRM Forum. The APRM Secretariat is in
South Africa, and UNDP, UNECA, and the African Development Bank are partners of APRM.
Each country establishes its national committee or secretariat to conduct a national review with
four thematic areas of APRM: political/democracy and governance, economic governance and
management, corporate governance, and socio-economic governance.
APRM is a volunteering mechanism. Several countries have so far volunteered to undertake the
process of developing their reports to be reviewed. APRM is to monitor governance of African
states by themselves and to reform governance in Africa. Through APRM, African states
exchange ideas and share best practices to promote and enhance democratic governance. This
is a significant sign of the change of African leaders‟ attitude. Amb. Aluko-Olokun exemplified the
departure of Charles Taylor and African leaders‟ intervention in the crisis in Togo as some
positive effects of APRM that have already been witnessed.
According to Amb. Aluko-Olokun, in order for APRM to succeed, it is important to have the
following: government‟s commitment, national ownership, people‟s involvement and
understanding, and technically competent. The national review process should include all the
stakeholders, including the state actors and non-state actors, like NGOs, communities, and
academics. Amb. Aluko-Olokun suggested that NGOs monitor and evaluate the process and
result of the national reviews.
The review process includes:
Technical research institutions are appointed to develop questionnaires and conduct survey.
For example, 10 research institutions are involved in Nigeria‟s process, and 4 institutions
in Ghana‟s. The survey is to determine the status of governance, and identify strengths
As a result of the survey, a national report is developed and reviewed.
Based on the report, a national plan of action is recommended.
Mr. Franklin Oduro (Ghana) of the Center for Democracy and Development presented Ghana‟s
experience in APRM. Ghana recently finalized the draft report and plan of action. Ghana‟s
process included a wide range of communities, such as chieftaincy, youth, media, and civil
society. The assessment of the survey was independent of the Government, and conducted by
civil society. Civil society monitored and checked fact-findings.
Mr. Oduro pointed out that a major challenge in the involvement of NGOs in APRM is a lack of
NGOs‟ knowledge about NEPAD and APPM. When the report came out in Ghana, many people
and groups asked who reviewed Ghana and why other countries were reviewing Ghana. This
was a result of lack of educating NGOs and the public about APRM‟s objectives and process.
In addition to monitoring, evaluating, and participating in APRM process, Mr. Oduro suggested
that NGOs put pressure on the Government to ratify the plan of action, recommended at the end
of the APRM process. He also proposed that NGOs conduct parallel review and assessment
because not all governments want to open space for civil society and the public.
PLENARY SESSION: DISCUSSION ON CURRENT ISSUES IN AFRICA (DARFUR, POST-
CONFLICT DEMOCRACY-BUILDING, AND THE AFRICAN UNION) AND ADF FUTURE
On the session of discussion on major concerns in Africa, participants discussed the situation in
Durfur. Ms. Durria Monsor (Sudan) briefed the participants on the Durfur situation and pointed
out that the civil society has been excluded from the peace process. Participants agreed that the
ADF should be more active in building solidarity for people and groups promoting peaceful
The participants also discussed the importance of sharing post-conflict experiences of NGOs in
building democracy and conduct case studies. It was suggested that groups from Mano River
countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea), DRC, Angola, and Mozambique should exchange ideas
and experiences, and that this could be facilitated by the ADF. This exchange can include issues
of justice and the use of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to bring justice.
During this session, it was also recommended that the AU and African Parliament be monitored
so that they can be held accountable. To begin this, the ADF will develop contacts with the AU
and other inter-governmental/region organizations and seek observer statuses for those
The participants also recognized the importance of linking with African Diaspora. Groups like the
U.S.-based Africa Action could be helpful for the ADF to raise voices of African democrats in the
Western governments‟ foreign policies toward Africa. They could also provide technical support
to the ADF members.
Finally, the Management Committee solicited, from the participants, ideas for regional and topical
workshops that the ADF will organize during the World Movement for Democracy‟s Fourth
Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey on April 2-5 2006. Participants agreed that the regional workshop
will be organized around challenges facing democracy movements in Africa. Suggested topics
for the regional workshop are:
Comparison of transitions to democracy in Africa;
Impacts of democracy on economic and social development in Africa;
Abuses/violations of the Constitution in Africa; and
They also suggested the following issues for topical workshops:
Democracy and religions
Democracy and terrorism
In addition to three plenary sessions, the Annual Meeting included six workshops on specific
challenges to democracy movements in Africa. The workshops were organized in a roundtable
discussion format. The topics of the workshops were:
Workshop I: “Preventing Violations of the Constitution”
Facilitator: Mr. Kokou Sylverstre Zounou (Togo)
Rapporteur: Mr. Ernest Mpararo (DRC)
Workshop II: “Ensuring Democratic, Free, and Fair Elections”
Facilitator: Ms. Zainab Bangura (Sierra Leone)
Rapporteur: Franklin Oduro (Ghana)
Workshop III: “National Human Rights Commissions: Providing a Road Map for the
African Human Rights Movement”
Facilitator: Mr. Chima Ubani (Nigeria)
Rapporteur: Mr. Harry Obe (Nigeria), Mr. Oluajo Babatunde (Nigeria)
Workshop IV: “Instilling Justice by Educating Citizens”
Facilitator: Mr. Yona Wanjala (Uganda)
Rapporteur: Mr. Kayode Ogundubmi (Nigeria)
Workshop V: “Deepening Linkages between Democracy and Human Development”
Facilitator: Dr. Akouete Akakpo-Vidad (Togo)
Rapporteur: Mr. Oluajo Babatunde (Nigeria)
Workshop VI: “Tackling Human Rights Deficits: Strategies for NGOs in Armed Conflict
Facilitator: Ms. Lucie Coulibaly (Cote d‟Ivoire)
Rapporteur: Mr. Lepoldo Amado (Guinea-Bissau)
Each workshop began with brief presentations and case studies. Participants in workshops
shared their different views and experiences while identifying similar challenges and common
regional strategies. A main objective of the workshops was to develop a short list of action-
oriented recommendations for the ADF, its members, the African Union, and other inter-
Workshop reports are attached at the end of this report. (Unfortunately, a report on Workshop I is
missing.) However, to gain deeper understanding of issues and develop more concrete
recommendations, workshop participants decided to continue their discussions online at
www.africandemocracyforum.org/forum. The online discussions are open to not only the
workshop participants, but also any ADF members. The discussion will end on 30 November,
2005, and the final reports will be published online and distributed to ADF members and relevant
organizations shortly after 30 November.
The ADF Annual Meeting closed with messages from two members of the Management
Committee: Mr. Dieudonne Zognong of Cameroon and Ms. Zainab Bangura of Sierra Leone. Mr.
Zognong discussed the importance of protecting the Constitutions in Africa and encouraged the
ADF members to take this issue seriously. Ms. Bangura reviewed the two-day discussion and
emphasized the importance of continuing exchanging ideas and collaborating among ADF
members. The participants acknowledge that their active participation is a key to the successful
development of the ADF and agreed to participate in various ADF activities, particularly the email
List-Serv and online discussions.
Special thanks to Catherine Inyang-Adewojo, Sarah Dickson, Chibogu Obinwa, and Jide of
BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights and Chima Ubani and Oluajo Banatunde of the Civil
Liberties Organisation for their assistance in organizing the ADF Annual Meeting.
17 July (Sunday)
8:30 – 9:00 Registration of Participants
9:00 – 10:00 Opening Session
Ayesha Imam (Nigeria)
Chair, ADF Management Committee
Ernest Mpararo (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Member, ADF Management Committee
Introduction of Participants
10:00 – 10:15 Tea Break
10:15 – 12:15 Review and Evaluation of ADF Activities to Date
12:15 – 13:45 Lunch
13:45 – 15:15 Workshop Session I
Workshop I: “Preventing Violations of the Constitution”
Lead Discussant: Kokou Sylverstre Zounou (Togo))
Workshop II: “Ensuring Democratic, Free, and Fair Elections”
Lead Discussant: Zainab Bangura (Sierra-Leone)
Workshop III: “National Human Rights Commissions: Providing a Road Map for
the African Human Rights Movement”
Lead Discussant: Nigerian National Human Rights Commission
Discussant: Catherine Mumma (Kenya)-Kenya National Commission on Human
15:15 – 15:30 Tea Break
15:30 – 17:00 Workshop Session I (continued)
18:30 – 20:30: Dinner
Sindi Medar-Gould (St. Lucia)
Baobab for Women‟s Human Rights – Nigeria
Chima Ubani (Nigeria)
Civil Liberties Organization - Nigeria
18 July (Monday)
8:30 – 10:00 Plenary Session: “The New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and
the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM): What are they? How should
NGOs be engaged?”
Panelists: Amb. Isaac Aluko-Olokun, APRM National Coordinator (Nigeria)
Steve Ouma, Kenya Human Rights Commission (Kenya)
10:00 – 10:15 Tea Break
10:15 – 13:00 Workshop Session II
Workshop IV: “Instilling Justice by Educating Citizens”
Lead Discussant: Yona Wanjala (Uganda)
Workshop V: “Deepening Linkages between Democracy and Human
Lead Discussant: Civil Liberties Organisation (Nigeria)
Workshop VI: “Tackling Human Rights Deficits: Strategies for NGOs in Armed
Lead Discussant: Lucie Coulibaly (Cote d‟Ivoire)
13:00 – 14:30 Lunch
14:30 – 16:00 Plenary Session: Reports from Workshops
16:00 – 16:15 Tea Break
16:15 – 17:30 Closing Session
Recommendations for Future Activities (based on workshop reports)
Recommendations for the ADF participation in the World Movement for
Democracy‟s Fourth Assembly (Istanbul, Turkey, April 2006)
Dieudonne Zognong (Cameroon)
Member, ADF Management Committee
Zainab Bangura (Sierra Leone)
Member, Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy
REPORT ON ACTIVITIES
In May 2004, the Nairobi-based Kenya Human Rights Commission was asked by the ADF
Management Committee to serve as the ADF Secretariat. In September 2004, Anthony Kuria
Njoroge joined KHRC as the ADF Coordinator, taking over from the Interim Coordinator Ryota
Jonen, who continues to maintain a close working relationship with the ADF Secretariat.
E-COMMUNICATION WITH ADF MEMBERS
On March 31, 2005, the ADF launched two new initiatives: a Web site and an e-newsletter.
ADF List-serv: The list-serv remains a main networking tool of the ADF. Through this
list-serv, over 160 members exchange information about upcoming events and current
political situations in their countries and regions. The list-serv has also been created to
facilitate honest discussions among members on current democracy issues, such as
conflicts in Cote d‟Ivoire, DRC, and Sudan, and to build mutual support and solidarity.
Website: In partnership with Kabissa, the Washington-based nongovernmental
organization helping build Africa‟s ICT capacity, the ADF developed its new Web site
(www.africademocracyforum.org) to share information about ADF activities and the work
of its members. The Web site also provides space for members to discuss democracy
issues in Africa. Various resources, such as new publications, information about training
opportunities, announcements and reports on conferences and links to potential funding
sources, are also available on the site. For the next several months, the ADF Secretariat
will continue developing the Web site to make it more interactive, and at least bi-lingual
(English and French).
E-Newsletter: On March 31, 2005, the inaugural issue of the newsletter was published
with two articles by ADF members. Dr. Khabele Matlosa of Lesotho discusses the
Southern African Development Council (SADC) Principles and Guidelines on Elections
and the challenges to their implementation in forthcoming elections in the region. Yona
Wanjala of Uganda then presents a panorama of challenges to governance in Africa and
possible responses. Each issue of the newsletter also features a profile of a member
organization. The ADF seeks to develop this newsletter into a platform for intellectual
discourse and leadership on human rights, democracy, governance and other related
issues in Africa. Please find a copy of the newsletter enclosed.
Web Hosting Service: With support from NED, Kabissa is providing he ADF Secretariat
and 20 ADF member organizations with free Web hosting service and technology
consulting. Through careful application and selection processes, the ADF Management
Committee and Kabissa selected 20 ADF member organizations to receive free Internet
hosting services, including Website space and email accounts, which would make the
Internet more accessible to the ADF members and help them share their information with
Internet Training Program: On 11-14 October 2004, The ADF and Kabissa, with
support from NED, organize two workshops (basic and advance) on information and
communication technologies (ICTs). The total of 40 ADF member organizations attended
the workshops and learned how to integrate ICTs into their advocacy work. The program
also provided self-learning materials and hands-on workshops on build their capacity to
Youth Training Program on Conflict Resolution and Democratic Leadership: On
12-17 December 2004, the Training Program on Democratic Leadership and Conflict
Resolution, entitled “Empowering Young Democracy Activists in East Africa,” brought
together 19 participants from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Somalia,
Somaliland, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. The participants are young leaders of civil
society organizations that promote democracy in their respective countries. The training
program also brought together 70 other young Kenyans to discuss challenges that young
activists face both in Kenya and the East Africa region.
EAST AFRICAN YOUTH NETWORK
The emerging network of the December youth training participants, the East African Youth
Network, has developed an e-mail list-serv through which they have been discussing follow-up
activities to the Nairobi training program. The online discussion has been facilitated by the ADF
Secretariat. Ideas for follow-up activities were developed by participants at the end of the Nairobi
training, and participants decided to organize those activities in connection with a forthcoming
World Youth Day for Democracy being organized by the Youth Movement for Democracy. The
World Youth Day is planned for October 18, 2005, on which dozens of youth-oriented democracy
organizations around the world will conduct various activities to encourage youth political
Participants in the training program will organize a national-level activity in their respective
countries for World Youth Day. Activities, which will draw upon the skills and knowledge they
gained from the training program, will include:
Public fora/symposia on the role of youth in democratic governance, conflict resolution,
education, and combating the impact of HIV/AIDS;
Radio shows featuring work of young democracy activists; and
Cultural events, such as music concerts and art exhibits, with messages about
democracy and democratic leadership.
In organizing these activities, participants will communicate with other youth organizations around
the world, which will conduct similar activities for World Youth Day for Democracy. The Global
Youth Action Network (GYAN), serving as the Youth Movement‟s Secretariat, will facilitate
communication among them through the Youth Movement‟s Web site, which will soon be
developed. Through the Web site, GYAN will provide participants and other youth organizations
with handbooks and manuals on how to conduct workshops, organize marches, and plan other
The ADF recently organized an online discussion, through which the ADF members provided
their analyses on democracy issues in Africa and recommendations to the Community of
Democracies‟ Africa regional dialogue and CD‟s ministerial meeting on April 28-30, 2005. Based
on the discussion and several workshops that the ADF organized in 2003 and 2004, this ADF
paper focuses on three topics: Political Parties and Civil Society; Electoral Systems and Electoral
Processes; and Security and Democracy. The paper (below) was presented at the CD Africa
Regional Workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 22-23 November, 2004.
The Management Committee of the ADF decided to hold the ADF Annual Meeting in Lagos,
Nigeria. Nearly 50 ADF members will participate in the meeting, and the meeting is intended to
serve as a regional preparatory forum for the World Movement for Democracy‟s Fourth Assembly
that will take place in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2-5 April, 2006. The Meeting will facilitate discussions
among the ADF members to formulate innovative ways on overcome challenges to democracy in
Africa. The discussions will focus on the following areas:
Preventing Violations of Constitutions,
Ensuring Democratic, Free, and Fair Elections,
National Human Rights Commissions: Providing a Road Map for African Human Rights
Instilling Justice by Educating Citizens,
Deepening Linkages between Democracy and Human Development, and
Tackling Human Rights Deficits: Strategies for NGOs in Armed Conflict Situations.
Discussions at the meeting will mainly be organized in the form of participatory round-table
workshops, facilitated by ADF members. And, in preparation for the meeting, the ADF Secretariat
is working closely with two ADF member organizations in Nigeria: Baobab for Women‟s Human
Rights and the Civil Liberties Organisation.
Report – Workshop II
Topic: Ensuring Democracy, Free and Fair Elections
Facilitator: Zainab Bangura
Rapportuer: Franklin Oduro
The discussion centered on experiences of electoral processes in Zimbabwe, DRC and Liberia.
The group did not have representatives from Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya hence electoral
politics in these countries were not discussed.
The lead discussant, Mrs. Zainab Bangura, introduced the discussion with the general issues on
key elements to consider and put in place for free and fair elections. Mrs. Bangura stated that
elections are an essential part of democratic consolidation. She acknowledged there are a
number of challenges and difficulties that countries face during elections. Depending on the
timing and type of elections, different challenges are bound to occur. She identified the following
types of elections:
Sustainability of elections
In responding to challenges in electoral processes, Mrs. Bangura identified a number of important
issues crucial in meeting these challenges. They included:
1. Legal Framework: A clear and unambiguous legislation needs to be put in place to
accommodate all sections of society. Following are the key points for a proper legal
framework to address:
Registration processes of both political parties, voters, and candidates;
Functioning of electoral bodies and management;
Laws governing political parties, including inter- and intra-party democracy;
Election campaign laws, use of state media, access to resources and an equal
Electoral boundaries; and
Laws governing voting procedures and the counting of votes.
2. Institutional Framework: Effective institutional frameworks are necessary for free and fair
elections. The following are considered required for institutional effectiveness:
Effectiveness and knowledge of the personnel who managed the electoral
Management, public process and engagement with NGOs, and political parties;
Independence of the electoral management bodies;
Impartiality of electoral management bodies; and
Non-partisanship of electoral management bodies.
Mrs. Bangura highlighted the different mechanisms for electoral management in both French and
English countries, specifically pointing out in the Francophone, the Ministry of interior organizes
the elections; and in the Anglophones, election management bodies are set up to organize and
3. Choice of Electoral Systems: The choice of electoral systems must facilitate a formation
of government and representation, and must not be made in a vacuum. The choice of
electoral system is essential for:
Gender balance; and
Elections must be seen as a conflict resolution mechanism, as it helps to address imbalances in
the country‟s public administration. Africa has come a long way; witnessed free and fair elections,
seen challenges, seen change in governments through elections as well as, non acceptance of
results. Civil society has a role to play in ensuring free and fair elections. Civil society should play
the following role:
Monitoring and observation;
Monitoring adherence to procedures and process; and
Mounting legal challenges.
PRESENTATION FROM ZIMBABWE: REGINALD HOVE
In his presentation, Dr. Hove gave a brief background to his country‟s electoral process. He
surmised that Zimbabwe is a country with a culture of no elections, and that violence has become
a part of the electoral process. He also noted that the Zimbabwean political system has been a
politics of transition and liberation reforms.
On electoral politics, the work of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, formed on the eve of
the 2000 parliamentary elections, was highlighted. It has 36 Organizations focusing on their main
areas of work including:
advocacy and electoral reform; and
media and elections.
The network is a member of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADEC) on election
network, the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA), as well as, the SADEC Parliamentary
forum in the region.
Deficiencies of Zimbabwe’s Electoral Process.
Opposition and majority parties have no confidence in the electoral management
President has many, un-checked powers in the election process such as the ability
to create laws one month before elections without parliamentary approval; and
Uncoordinated electoral agencies, electoral supervisor and registrar‟s office
responsible for electoral duties plus daily duties, different electoral cycle for
presidential and parliamentary elections.
Election reform project
As part of the electoral reform process, the network has been working with EISA to engage
government, state agencies, and local people to seek opinions on election reform. Zimbabweans,
generally, agree on the following:
Violence in an election is not acceptable, but at least state-sponsered violence was
reduced in the last elections;
Combine parliamentary and presidential elections to be held at the same time;
Fewer powers for the President and re-introduction of the position of the Prime
Strengthening of the judiciary system needed;
Mixed electoral system including first past the polls, proportional quota system, and
SADEC resolutions of 1/3 of women in all public offices;
Creation of a single independent body to administer elections;
SADEC protocols on elections advocated with their moral authority guidelines;
Independent and well resourced electoral management;
Establishment of special tribunals to handle electoral disputes to resolve conflicts
within 6 months; and
Guidelines for free and fair electronic media coverage of the electoral process.
Key issues of concern
Role of the Military in civilian matters, especially in electoral matters (e.g. Chairman
of electoral supervisor was a former military man, person appointed as head of
election was a serving military officer, and many military officers are heads of civil
Government laws limit the role of civil society in electoral process (e.g. voter
education and election monitoring done by military, civil society deployment limited
by government in last elections); and
SADAC guidelines are silent on the role of the military.
PRESENTATION FROM THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC)
The presenter, a legal adviser to the independent Electoral Commission of the DRC, gave a brief
background of electoral politics in the DRC. He stated that since independence, DRC has
witnessed only one election in 1965. Forty (40) years down the road, and after a prolonged
outbreak of conflict following the demise of Mobuto, the DRC is preparing to hold elections as part
of the peace deal in Sun City, South Africa. The two-year transition period ended in June, and
now, an independent Electoral Commission has been formed. The Commission is made up of two
groups; one is the administrative body made up of representatives of the rebel groups; and the
other, the National Election Office in charge of elections, is composed of professionals. The
budget for the independent commission is around $250,000 dollars out of which $130,000 dollars
has been provided from the international community.
A number of challenges confronting the independent body in preparing for the elections were
noted. They included:
Lack of accurate voter population figure due to the prolonged lack of gathering census
data making it difficult to plan;
Difficulty in identifying eligible voters for registration;
Identification means of voter registration, pictures and/or fingerprints;
Lack of effective civil society cooperation, although some civil society, mostly religious
bodies, have been assisting with voter identification and registration;
Need to entrust the electoral body to one ministry so that government is not able to
interfere in the work of the independent body;
Draft constitution is being prepared;
Draft law on elections in still in Parliament; and
Opposition is not willing to collaborate with government, and is campaigning against
registration of voters.
PRESENTATION FROM LIBERIA
Two participants from Liberia made a presentation on the upcoming October general elections. In
their presentation, they made reference to the peace agreement signed in Accra that brought an
end to a long period of conflict. The agreement set up an interim government and called for a
general election due October 2005. New legislation, reforming the 1986 electoral law, has been
put in place to regulate the October elections. The presenters identified a number of challenges
confronting the process, and for that matter, question the freeness and fairness of the upcoming
Voter registration, order to get accurate numbers and locations, has been difficult due to
the lack of a census and the number of displaced citizens;
Issue of displaced citizens and where they should vote;
Lack of civic education;
Logistical problems for the electoral management;
Cultural challenges, such as gender relations, are sensitive;
Weak media involvement in the process, and no code of conduct for media;
Poor electoral record;
Weak political party system due to systematic intimidation of opposition since Taylor‟s
Lack of proper and poor representation at the interim assembly; and
Poor campaign process.
Civil Society Involvement
In spite of the challenges, a number of initiatives were highlighted for the civil society community
to engage with the electoral process. These include:
Massive civic and voter education for representation;
Advocate strongly for people to contest and get power through elections;
Challenge warlords in the legislation; and
Advocate for high technology in voter registration such as, photo I.D cards.
Following the country presentations, the group discussed and offered the following as the key
issues to consider when one is advocating for democratic free and fair elections. These included:
When is it right for an election to be held in post conflict situations?
Is the election being used as a strategy for the international community?
Role of donors in post conflict situations, lack of coordination;
Transitional arrangements with multiple and contradictory mandates (e.g. Liberia,
The challenge of warlords and contestants in electoral policies (e.g. Liberia);
Violence in elections;
Militarization of electoral polls;
Weak electoral management bodies;
Role of civil society in election monitoring;
Challenges of conducting elections in a country that has a long history of no elections;
Lack of accurate census data to help determine voter registration;
Lack of coherent legal regimes to regulate elections;
Weak political parties, and issues of more political parties than ever before; and
Incoherent civic education.
Members of the workshop also suggested ADF could facilitate technical support for countries that
are yet to go into elections by tapping on experiences of countries that have successfully
undergone free and fair elections. Countries that were identified as needing immediate support
Report – Workshop III
Topic: National Human Rights Commission – Providing the Road Map for the African Rights
Facilitator: Chima Ubani
Lead Disccussant(s): Bukhari Bello, Catherine Mumma, and Wale Fapohunda
Rapporteur(s): Harry Obe and Oluajo Babatunde
The workshop on the “National Human Rights Commission-Providing the Road Map for African
Rights Movement” was hosted by the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission (NNHRC).
The workshop‟s lead speaker was the Executive Secretary of the NNHRC, Mr. Bukhari Bello, and
the co-speakers were Ms. Catherine Mumma of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission
and Wale Fapohunda, Commissioner of the NNHRC.
Mr. Bello traced the evolution of NHRIs in Africa to the UN Economic and Social Council
Resolution 2/9 of 1946, the 1991 International Workshop on National Institutions for the
Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (otherwise known as the Paris Principles) and Articles
25 and 26 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights.
The UN High Commission for Human Rights, recognizing the importance of NHRIs especially in
the area of supporting the basic institutions of Democracy (e.g. pluralist and accountable
parliament, an Executive subject to the control of the electorate, and an independent judiciary)
through its Advisory Department, considered the establishment of NHRIs a priority and
NHRIs, according to Bello, have the capacity to make substantial contributions to the realization
of human rights by transforming the rhetoric of international instruments into reality. What makes
NHRIs important is their ability to understand national circumstances and local challenges. This
often places them in a better position than external evaluators to monitor the human rights
performance of their respective governments.
Mr Bello further noted that Africa has one of the best regional Human rights systems in the world
with over two dozen of such institutions, fifteen of which enjoy affiliate status with the African
Commission on Human Rights. He attributes the strength of African NHRIs to the provisions of
the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, particularly articles 25 and 26, which impose
duties on state parties to promote and protect human rights by ensuring the establishment of
courts and other institutions with the requisite independence for this purpose.
Using the Nigerian NHRC, which was established by the National Human Rights Commission Act
of 1995 as an example, Bello stated that most NHRIs in Africa are conferred wide powers and
broad functions. For example, section 5 of the Nigerian NHRC Act provides for the powers and
functions of the commission as follows:
Deal with matters relating to the protection of human rights as, guaranteed by the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the African Charter on Human and
People‟s Rights, the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human
Rights and other International Treaties on human rights to which Nigeria is a signatory;
Monitor and investigate all alleged cases of human rights violation in Nigeria and make
appropriate recommendation to the Federal Government for the prosecution and such
other actions as it may deem expedient in each circumstance;
Assist victims of human rights violation and seek appropriate redress and remedies on
Undertake studies on all matters pertaining to human rights and assist the Federal
Government in the formulation of appropriate policies on the guarantee of human rights;
Publish, from time to time, reports on the state of human rights protection in Nigeria;
Organize local and international seminars, workshops and conferences on human rights
issues for public enlightenment;
Liaise and co-operate with local and international organizations on human rights with the
purpose of advancing the promotion and protection of human rights;
Participate in all international activities relating to the promotion and protection of human
Maintain a library, collect data and disseminate information and materials on human
rights generally; and
Carry out all such other functions as are necessary or expedient for the performance of
its functions under this act.
The Commission shall have power to:
Do all things which by this act or any other enactment are required or permitted to be
done by the Commission; and
Do such other things as are necessary or expedient for the performance of its
functions under this Act.
The importance of this broad mandate lies in the fact that, NHRIs has the power to treat all
human Rights with equal attention without distinction or classification. This is in contrast with the
limited focus of NGOs to certain thematic issues only. In addition, the provisions such as section
5(f) and 5(g) of the NNHRC Act enable the commission to organize local and international
seminars, workshops, and conferences on Human Rights and to do so in liaison and cooperation
with local and international organizations for the advancement, promotion and protection of
Human Rights. This provides the required platform for a positive synergy between NHRIs, NGOs
and CSOs. Such coordination between NHRIs, with a wide and all embracing mandate, and
Human Rights civil society groups is a sure road map for the Human Rights Movement in Africa.
Bello cited examples of ways in which the NNHRC has demonstrated this through cooperation
and collaboration with local and International NGOs and CBOs in the areas of promotion,
protection, and research to further the frontiers of Human Rights. For instance, International
NGOs, such as Penal reform International (PRI), Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA),
and Human Rights Watch, have had cooperation with the Commission. Furthermore, the
Commission has put in place a National Action Plan (NAP). The NAP document is a product of a
consultative approach whereby the views of both governmental agencies and civil society
organizations were solicited and obtained. The input of civil society organizations in the plan was
tremendous. A similar consultative approach was used in the draft amendment to the Nigerian
National Human Rights Commission Act, 1995, where the Commission held consultations with
civil society groups in the various zones of the country before submitting the draft to the National
Secondly, the cooperation with Governmental institutions, with either human rights or protective
functions, ensures that the tenets of human rights are brought to bear on such institutions;
thereby, creating a wider scope for the implementation of human rights obligations of the
government. It also acts as a subtle way of establishing human rights impact assessment of
institutional activities. The performance of this role by the Commission puts such agencies on
their toes with regards to compliance with human rights norms. NGOs do not have such capacity.
The Commission performs this role for such agencies as the Nigeria Police, the Nigeria Prison
Service, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Federal Housing Authority, Federal Ministry of
Health, the various state Houses of Assembly, and many others.
Thirdly, as a pivotal part of the implementation of human rights obligations of the state and in
fulfillment of its statutory mandate, the Commission is involved in international and regional
human rights activities. The Commission is an active participant in the activities of the UN human
rights systems and also those of the African Commission on Human and Peoples‟ Rights. In
2002, the Commission hosted the 3 West African Human Rights Forum, which brought together
a large number of West African Human rights NGOs and NHRIs in the sub-region. In December
2003, the Commission, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI),
hosted the first ever Commonwealth Human Rights Forum (CHRF). The Commission has a very
good working relationship with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF,
and others in promotional, protective and capacity building activities.
Bello concluded by saying that despite the wide mandate and powers given to the commission by
its enabling act, the NNHRC has not been without challenges. The main source of revenue of the
Commission is allocation from the Federal Government. Many projects are either delayed or
aborted on account of a deficiency of funds. Another challenge faced by the Commission is
personnel. While an effort has been made to recruit qualified staff, training and retraining
remains limited due to a lack of funds, which impacts the output of the Commission. An
amendment to the Commission‟s Act to address some of these issues and further guarantee its
independence and autonomy is already before the National Assembly.
The example presented by the work and achievements of the Nigerian National Human Rights
Commission is evidence to the fact that NHRIs have, and indeed should, play a pivotal role in the
implementation of state human rights obligations. The broad mandate given the Commission by
its statute enables it to deal with all human rights; thereby, ensuring that the principles of equality,
inalienability, interdependence, indivisibility and interrelation of all human rights is put into
practice in its daily activities. NHRIs, where properly managed and empowered, are certainly the
road map for the African Human rights movement into which all stakeholders including NGOs can
In her presentation, Catherine Mumma, the second speaker and the Kenyan Human Rights
Commission commissioner, praised Bukhari Bello presentation, but added that, the Kenyan
Commission was established in 2002. The Commission has nine Commissioners who are
appointed by Committee of parliament.
She said the mandate and powers of the Kenyan Commission are similar to that of the Nigerian
Commission. The Kenyan commission has powers to make recommendations to parliament on
compensation for human rights violations. The commission also has quasi- judicial powers to
issue summons, and power to punish for any failure to obey. The commission can also order
disclosure of information, which is considered necessary for its work, as well as, order the release
of any one unlawfully detained.
The main objective of the Kenyan Commission is the reduction of systemic Human Right
violations and to catalyze pro-human rights reforms in the police, prisons and other government
institutions. The Commission also promotes Human Rights against minority ethnicity, corruption,
bad leadership and influence legislative policy on Human Rights.
The Kenyan Human Rights Commission carries out a regular national audit of all government
agencies to ensure compliance with the international standard of Human Rights norms. It also
assist the government to adhere to her Human Rights obligations as well as help to increase
opportunities for the realization of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. All this the Commission
does in partnership with NGOs and CSOs.
In conclusion, Ms. Mumma said the Kenyan Human Rights Commission face similar challenges
as the Nigerian Commission. In addition to all that, the commission faces the problem of ensuring
that there is no overlap of functions between it and the Kenyan Gender Commission. The
Commission looks forward to an increase in interaction with the African Democracy Forum,
especially now that the secretariat of the African National Human Rights Institutions is moving
from South Africa to Kenya.
In his own presentation, Olawale Fopohunda, agreed with the presentation of Bukhari Bello and
Ms. Mumma. However, he differed to the extent that there could be common African Human
Rights Movement. He described such proposition as a fallacy. He explained that his conclusion is
hinged on the divergent colonial legacies. He also believes there is a colonial conspiracy against
a common front in Africa.
Mr. Fapohunda continued by saying attempts at such a front in the past has failed. He cited the
example of the West African Human Rights Forum, which aimed only at exploring ways of putting
the Human Rights issues on the ECOWAS agenda.
Mr Fapohunder concluded by listing the challenges facing the African NHRIs:
Limited government interest;
Limited enabling legislative framework; and
Drop in the degree of human rights issues in national discussion.
To address these challenges, he stressed the need for collaboration between NHRIs, CSOs and
NGOs to continually push Human Rights issues onto the front burner.
After contributions by members of the workshop, the workshop came up with the following
The workshop noted the limited enabling environment under which NHRIs operate in Africa,
characterized by limited government interest in Human rights issues and the lack of
independence and autonomy of African NHRIs in the areas of appointment and finance.
The workshop equally noted the absence of a Pan-African National Human Rights Institution, as
well as, the absence of a Pan-African Human Rights movement due largely to the legacies of
imperialism and colonialism in Africa.
The workshop while agreeing on the potentials of NHRIs for building bridges between
governments and CSOs, contributing to the building of pluralistic and healthy democracies, as
well as, the implementation of the human rights obligations of the state, resolves as follows.
For NHRIs to be effective in carrying out its mandate, NHRIs must be independent and
autonomous with respect to its funding and appointment of its commissioners.
POWERS OF NHRIs
In addition to the independence and autonomy, NHRIs, in order to be effective, must go beyond
mere recommendations and should be able to exercise quasi-judicial powers with respect to
arbitration, summons, prosecution and awards of compensation to name a few.
NHRIs should not allow themselves to be bogged down by any form of limitations or perceived
limitations in their enabling laws, but should rather engage in a creative mandate to meet the
aspirations of the African people.
The workshop, while noting the comparative advantage of NHRIs with respect to access to state
institutions and leverage, recommend the need for collaboration between NHRIs and CSOs in
order to increase access to and boost public confidence in NHRIs.
The need for CSOs to share information with and develop structured engagement with NHRIs,
rather than the prevalent ad-hoc engagement of NHRIs is highly important.
In order to strengthen the relationship between CSOs and NHRIs, there is need for periodic
reviews between the two institutions.
In order to deepen the work of NHRIs, there is an urgent need for NHRIs to develop a framework
and strategies for interventions in Social, Economic and Cultural rights issues, as well as, the
need for regular joint projects between NHRIs and CSOs especially in the areas of Social,
Economic and Cultural rights at the local level.
To enhance the effectiveness of NHRIs and CSOs, with regards to protection of Human and
ECOSOC Rights, there is the urgent need for access to information through the promulgation of
freedom of information laws.
MEMBERS OF THE GROUP:
Harry Obe (Rapporteuor)
Oluajo Babatunde (Co-Rapporteuor)
REPORT – WORKSHOP IV
Topic: Instilling Justice by Educating the Citizens
Faciliator: Yona Wanjala
Rapporteur: Kayode Ogunbunmi
The workshop has six participants: Yona Wanjala (Lead Discussant and Chair)
Kayode Ogunbunmi (Rapporteur)
The Chair started proceedings by establishing the procedure for the workshop. This included the
need to defend justice as a concept; seek why we must educate people for justice; how the
process can be attained; pose focal questions on justice in our countries; and state conclusions
In the prepared paper Mr. Wanjala presented, he said the concept of justice is common to all
peoples and nationalities, but the problem is who defines what justice is. Justice, in his opinion,
means upholding the law and punishing the wrong. It also means proper administration of justice.
Justice in Africa is vulnerable and its distribution is in deficit. There is increasing irresponsibility
amongst citizens, while crime overwhelms law enforcement agencies.
Part of the cause of this is indifference to the common good by institutions of state and the un-
seriousness of law enforcement agencies. Often, though proclamations of human rights are on
paper, it does not mean that safeguards exist. So most citizens, not only do not know about the
law, but they do not care about it.
Civic education offers the best choice. This kind of education is crucial to shaping lives, as there
is a need to improve the state of mind of the people and make them full actors in the policies of
The focal questions, according to the paper, are “How excellent is the justice system? Do people
understand justice and do they practice it? What causes miscarriages of justice? Is there
independence of the agency and are all people equal before the law?”
There are different levels of justice administration in Uganda, but cases are taken without regard
to jurisdiction. The management of systems and institutions is crucial to justice administration.
Listed below are the various agencies of law enforcement and their impact:
• Police administration of justice, which is in default as there is torture and indefinite lockups;
• Prisons, where there are various forms of torture and maltreatment;
• Law courts, some of which are not the centers of justice they ought to be; and
• Intelligence agencies, such as the Ugandan one, which turn their safe houses into torture
People don‟t know their rights before any of these agencies and there is, therefore, the need to
educate them. There is also a need to carry out programs in prisons to educate and encourage
prison wardens and guards on human rights issues. At the same time, prisoners must also
understand and know their rights.
There is a coalition against torture in Uganda, which campaigns against torture by government
agencies and strives to let victims know their rights and how to protect themselves.
There are incidences of mob justice in Uganda, such as the case with 283 people (including 14
women) killed over petty theft, land cases and rape. This comes about as a result of a gap in the
implementation of justice, and the people need to be educated about the need to uphold the law
and let criminals pass through the justice system.
His recommendations are:
• A national initiative to revitalize civic education for justice;
• General public must know about the importance of justice through the mass media;
• Lawmakers and educators must re-examine curricula and strengthen it to achieve this goal;.
• Moral education must be taught in schools;
• Campaign on the right of access to justice from the village levels;
• Legal clinics must be extended to the people; and
• Justice administrators must be educated. For instance, the capacity of Ugandan NGOs could be
developed so that they could empower warders and judges.
CHIBOGU OBINWA said the school is a good agent of human development. With her
background as a woman Human Rights activist, she realizes there is a real issue of gender
discrimination from the very early age of kids. The female child might not be sent to school and
even while at school, the curricula of some schools tend to reinforce injustice by pushing female
students into certain classes and limiting their options. Certain laws, such as some aspects of the
Sharia, are also discriminatory against women. There is, therefore, a need to look at the way the
issues affecting women are subsumed.
ELIZABETH HOFF said mob justice is a serious issue in Liberia, especially in cases of rape and
suspected ritual killing, such that efforts to halt this has led to tension between peacekeepers and
ex-combatants. There is, however, some form of education going on at present to get people to
hand over suspects to the police instead of resorting to jungle justice, but this is being hampered
by a lack of trust in the police. People who are supposed to know the law don‟t and people are
afraid of the courts. She narrated a personal experience. A man she owes money decided to sue
her under false pretences to a court, which had no jurisdiction over such matters. She was only
saved the likely fate of going to jail by the presence of an experienced lawyer, who recognized it
as a sham trial.
YONA WANJALA said the statement that there cannot be peace without justice is an everlasting
truth and that justice must be pursued by all means.
KAYODE OGUNBUNMI said it is not often that people allow their rights to be violated because
they are ignorant of such rights. However, it is sometimes beyond them to insist on these rights
because the system is tilted against them. He gave the example of a boss of his who willingly
paid ransom to the police so that a detained cousin of his could be released despite his
knowledge, reinforced by bold stickers to that effect pasted at the police station, that „bail is free.‟
Education programs should be directed at law enforcement agencies because they are the most
crucial factor in the system, and if they perform their duties well, people will have confidence in
EDDY JARWOLO said it is a sad truth that justice is always for the rich. The rich must be made to
understand that if they don‟t respect the law, others won‟t either. If a system the people can
respect is not put in place, education about laws might not be effective. Nevertheless, any such
processes to sensitize people should start at the community level.
RYOTA JONEN agreed on the need to work with policymakers and educators. The group might
look at what kind of specific activities are being done in a creative way to educate the citizens,
and how NGOs could reach the people. For instance, a group in Venezuela publishes comics on
citizenship and rule of law issues for the people to talk about.
CHIBOGU OBINWA said there must be a multi-faceted approach to education. For instance,
BAOBAB has a talent competition, for children, using posters and poetry categories designed to
deepen their understanding of Human Rights issues. Some of the posters produced by the
participants (some of them as young as three) are also used by the organization in its advocacy
projects. There is also a 16 days of activism campaign, which includes drama presentations to
school kids, police colleges, and the general public.
EDDY JARWOLO said some of the strategies favored by his organization include visits to
communities to discuss with the leaders; development of materials such as posters and fliers for
the communities; recruitment of volunteers to carry out enlightenment activities with the materials;
and production of campaign video in the vernacular.
ELIZABETH HOFF said there wasn‟t much in regard to media work with women because the
leadership of the press union in Liberia was male dominated. That has now changed and a
recently launched Liberian Women Action Committee now works with groups, such as female
lawyers, to promote pro-women issues. The group also produces a quarterly newsletter and has
been involved in a recent voter registration exercise successfully encouraging women to go out
and register. The group also organizes workshops and develops messages, which are distributed
through community radio stations.
KAYODE OGUNBUNMI said there is need to consider how much Human Rights groups could
learn from HIV/AIDS campaigns, and if it is possible to employ advertising techniques in the
YONA WANJALA said the AIDS campaign offers lessons for HR groups because people feel they
own AIDS campaigns. People feel closer to the AIDS campaign because they understand HIV
does not distinguish between different groups of people, whereas in Uganda, justice campaigns
face problems of acceptance because some people feel they are above the law. The problem is
that people don‟t realize justice issues are as important as health issues, such as HIV/AIDS.
EDDY JARWOLO agreed with this. People in power tend to feel they are above the law and that
this is illusory. Leaders must realize that though they are in power today, they might be out of
power tomorrow. Once a community understands the importance of protecting justice, then there
won‟t be any problems.
ELIZABETH HOFF said a major problem towards achieving the needed result is the
unwillingness of different groups to work together. There is a false fear of being swallowed up by
YONA WANJALA said another difference between groups working in HIV/AIDS and Human
Rights in Uganda, is that while the latter are mostly in the cities, the former are located and work
in the rural areas.
KAYODE OGUNBUNMI asked if there are ways that justice organizations could tie their activities
into reproductive health issues and collaborate with groups already in that field.
RYOTA JONEN said both HIV and environmental issues are also governance issues. Some
people must monitor groups in these fields and ensure that they join the push for good
governance. This is where human rights groups need to collaborate with the other groups.
ELIZABETH HOFF said a major problem would be getting people to meet and share information.
EDDY JARWOLO said information is very difficult to access in Liberia. For instance, the budget is
a state secret.
RYOTA JONEN said that in addition to the media and NGOs, political parties have to be involved.
EDDY JARWOLO said civil society groups in Liberia need to work with Human Rights
Commission and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that has just been established.
ELIZABETH HOFF said some people have passed a lot of wrong information about the TRC, and
have thus created fear and distrust about it. Now, people are wary about going before the
KAYODE OGUNBUNMI asked if there are ways that the media in Liberia are helping in educating
the people on special issues.
ELIZABETH HOFF said „Newspaper in Education‟ is a program in Liberia, but there is a lot of
problems with readership and accessibility because most newspapers circulate only within the
capital of Monrovia.
EDDY JARWOLO added that private radio stations tend to be interactive, and the reporters and
program staff go out to talk to people and air their views. Old structures were destroyed in the war
and Liberians are just building afresh.
RYOTA JONEN pointed out the need to make specific recommendations.
Some of the recommendations agreed on include:
• Need for the ADF to create a database of campaign activities;
• The design of a curriculum for education officers;
• Use of clubs and the media to inspire debates and get people interested in the issues;
• Sharing information on issues affecting member‟s countries and how these are being tackled
and experiences gained;
• Work with the media to propagate information;
• Work with traditional institutions to push for positive change; and
• Promote online discussion and input from other members.
REPORT - WORKSHOP V
Topic: Deepening the Linkages Between Democracy and Human Development
Faciliator: Prof. Akouete Akakpo-Vidah
Lead Presenter: Chima Ubani
Discussants: Franklin Oduro and Ndubisi Obiorah
Rapporteur: Babatunde Oluajo
The workshop on “Deepening the Linkages Between Democracy and Human Development”, was
hosted by the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO).
The workshop noted the intrinsic link between democracy and human development, which was
compared to the two pedals of a bicycle. Participants and speakers observed that democracy and
human development go hand in hand. While noting that poverty is the worst form of human rights
violation, the workshop proceeded to observe the following:
The linkage between democracy and human development is often overlooked by
democracy activists although recognized by a variety of international documents – the
African Charter on Popular Participation in Development, the African Charter on Human
and Peoples Rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights etc. These documents link
sovereignty and participation of the people as the basis of the authority and power of
government (democracy) and the welfare of the people as the primary purpose of the
The constitutions of many countries establish the link between democracy and human
development. For example, the constitution of Nigeria (1999) captures the link in Section
14 in the following words:
(1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of
democracy and social justice.
(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that: -
(a) Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this
Constitution shall derive all its powers and authority;
(b) The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of
(c) The participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in
accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”
Notwithstanding the recognition of this link; however, the workshop noted that many of
the constitutions of African states creates a dichotomy between civil and political rights,
which are judicially enforceable, and economic, social and cultural rights, which are not.
The Nigerian Constitution for example in Chapter II describes the economic social and
cultural rights merely as Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy
as opposed to the Fundamental Human Rights (Chapter IV).
The dichotomy mirrors the historical fallacy that distinguishes generations of rights – civil
and political rights as the first generation, economic, social and cultural rights as the
second, and collective rights (including the right to development) as the third. This fallacy,
the workshop noted, reflected more the politics of the cold war than the reality of human
rights, which we know are interconnected, inter-related and indivisible.
The enforcement mechanisms of international documents are tailored towards civil and
political rights rather than the economic, social and cultural rights, and that the cases
taken up by civil society organizations in such bodies relate more to the former and
hardly ever the latter.
The work of civil society organizations (with the notable exception women‟s groups) have
tended more often than not to focus on the more civil and political sides of governance –
elections, justice sector issues, civil and voter education, gender – with insufficient
attention to issues of poverty, social security, housing, education, health, etc.
The reality of the current international order is such that there are important connections
between issues of the foreign debt burden, trade imbalance, and human development.
The overall environment of market reforms impose grave limitations on the capacity of
African States to promote human development, given the policies of privatization,
currency devaluation, withdrawal of subsidies on social services, retrenchment of
workers, which such reforms have entailed.
Bad governance, with which Africa has been saddled with over the last three decades,
impacts negatively on human development.
Africa remains a net exporter of wealth, especially with regards to debt repayment and
servicing, a situation that accounts for part of the developmental problems of the
The workshop equally noted the challenges posed by the increasing economic expansion
and presence of China in Africa, and the prospects of such for both democracy and
The workshop, after extensive discussions on the subject of democracy and human development,
subsequently resolved the following:
Deepening the linkages between democracy and human development will require both
local and international interventions. At the local level, civil society organizations need to
try and pay more attention to the economic side of governance in terms of research,
advocacy, litigation and engagement with governmental processes. At the international
level, civil society organizations will need to engage more with inter-governmental
agencies on the economic side of issues – the African Union, NEPAD, African Court,
African Commission, etc.
There is need to place issues of human development – conflicts, wars, poverty, debt,
trade, etc.,- more firmly on the agenda of the ADF and the need for participants to take
positions on situations in our various countries that pertain to the issues of democracy
and human development.
There is an urgent need for African states to enhance internal democracy in the various
African countries with the aim of promoting a system of participatory development,
planning, and decision making which will in turn make policies, programs, and laws
respond to the needs of the African people.
As part of efforts aimed at promoting human development, African states should embrace
policies that will promote affirmative action to ensure that women are not left behind in
the process of development.
That the ADF has a task of challenging the pervasive perception of democracy as being
de-linked from human development.
The ADF needs to take a stand on the issue of debt relief and educate the African people
on the illusion of debt relief as being presently propagated by the western world.
In view of the failure of official aid (75% of which end up in the donor countries), African
countries should work towards renouncing un-payable debts that constitute a drag on the
capacity of African states to address the issues of human development.
African civil society organizations must, out of necessity, deepen their reach and build
grassroots movement to replicate the experience of the European and American mass
movements against poverty in African.
REPORT – WORKSHOP VI
Topic : Tackling Human Rights Deficit : Strategies for NGOs in Armed Conflict Situations
Facilitator: Lucie COULIBALY
Rapporteur: Leopoldo AMADO
Armed conflict situations at the local, national, and regional levels occur for a diversity of reasons
(i.e. ethnic, religious, social, and/or political). One such situation, in particular, is the systematic
violation of human rights when the rule of law is not in existence. When we refer to law, we will
speak of International Law instead of any particular country‟s law.
Human rights activists are required to continue their job of denunciations of human rights abuses
even when a situation of danger exists. To achieve their objectives, activists must develop
strategies aimed at tackling the human rights deficit.
WHO ARE THE PERPETRATORS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS?
The perpetrators of human rights violations are human beings; common citizens (men, women,
old, young, teenagers and even children at times). Depending on the circumstances, they belong
to the following groups:
Gendarmes, policemen, and armed forces;
Rebels, armed fighters, and militias;
Individuals (supporters of groups in conflicts); and
Individuals (members of humanitarian organizations).
TYPES OF VIOLATIONS
In the case of armed conflict, we are dealing with all kinds of violations as perpetrators have no
limits. Violations include the following:
Pillaging and theft;
Murders, assassination, summary killing (ritual murders, genocides, etc.);
Blackmailing for food distribution; and
Trafficking in human organs.
WHO ARE THE VICTIMS?
Violations occur against men, women, and children, especially the most vulnerable
populations of the handicapped, elderly, and infants. Nobody is spared. However, civilians
are more exposed to violations in situations of armed conflict.
WHICH STRATEGIES CAN HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES USE IN ARMED CONFLICT
The ideal situation would be a credible network of NGOs, with representatives of regional
institutions, international institutions and humanitarian organizations, established during a
time of peace to ensure reliable dissemination of information and knowledge from the interior
to the exterior of a region. This would create a permanent network to guarantee the
mobilization of a strong interest in the event of an armed conflict, and to maintain pressure on
the perpetrators of human rights violations.
A / How can NGO’s organize themselves in a situation of armed conflict?
On the field and outside the conflict area: identify individuals, organizations, and
institutions to build a partnership for a effective management of information;
Organize a solid and trustworthy collection of information for systematic denunciations of
various violations; and
Identify, with precision, the perpetrators.
B / How far can they act?
In situation of permanent danger, human rights advocates are unarmed and have a very
limited space to maneuver. However, the use of very discrete initiatives carried out with
trustworthy partners can help them achieve their aim and protect their lives.
C / What are their means?
Members of civil society and NGOs do not have the means to intervene in armed conflicts.
Communication, denunciation, and publication of verifiable information are the key tools for
activists. They will have to do the following:
Build their credibility;
Collect and publish true and easily verifiable information;
Establish strong and durable ties with partners on which they can rely for moral and
material support when needed; and
Focus on their courage, skills, intelligence and will to make justice and peace prevail.
The following strategies are advised:
Create a human rights network in neighboring countries to the conflict area;
Establish a discrete connection with humanitarian organizations and media, as well as
Seek the mediation of influential and neutral persons, such as religious leaders;
Allow human rights activists to enter belligerent zones to seek information and inquire
human rights abuses;
Encourage the publication of information about peace and reconciliation;
Communicate with satellite phones when possible;
Take advantage of ceasefires to establish a dialogue between enemies;
Publish information throughout the area of conflict to assist separated family members with
Gather and publish images of atrocities whenever possible;
Utilize electronic petitions;
Insist on the effectiveness of sanctions against perpetrators of human rights violations;
Work on building a strong coalition of civil society to be credible and independent during
of peace; therefore, allowing it the chance to be more effective in times of armed conflict;
Initiate the creation of as many organizations as possible in regions where they do not
exist in order to assure the circulation of information;
Lobby for the placement of U.N. officials to witness violations in areas of armed conflict;
Promote the existence and role of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), demand
into crimes and violations, and insist the conclusion of the investigations be published to
other potential criminals.
This workshop recommends that the African Democracy Forum (ADF) initiate a program that will
engage its members and its partners in overall activities, over precise periods to maximize
impact. For example, the ADF would like:
Focus on creating a culture of peace;
To popularize texts of laws relating to human rights, humane international laws, and other
Reinforce strategies to increase public knowledge by publishing materials on human
rights issues in times of peace;
To organize trainings to reinforce the capacity of our members;
To organize seminars to distribute the information our members receive from trainings to
our broader network;
To organize campaigns fighting against impunity by, for example, popularizing texts
governing the International Penal Court in simplified and translated versions; and
To identify all organizations and institutions (internal and external) for the development of
a partnership, which will make it possible to ensure a permanent, reliable, credible and
effective source of information in times of peace or of war.