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UN, African officials mark 25th anniversary of human rights charter for Africa

UN, African officials mark 25th anniversary of human rights charter for Africa

Calling the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights “a landmark achievement in the region for the region,” United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour commemorated the 25th anniversary of its adoption, as other UN and African officials honoured the text on the continent itself.

“We celebrate the accomplishments of this important regional human rights instrument and recommit ourselves to assisting in strengthening its mechanisms and procedures,” Ms. Arbour said in a statement issued yesterday in Geneva jointly with Salamata Sawadogo, head of the African Human Rights Commission, who is in Banjul, the Gambia, attending the current meeting of the African Union.

In the 1981 text, African States pledged to “…coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa,” through support to ideals influenced by the UN Charter and its Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

At a ceremony marking the occasion by the UN mission in the Côte d’Ivoire, Pierre Schori, Special Representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to that country, said that the African Charter had achieved some progress. However, it needed much greater support throughout the continent and by the international community.

“Many Africans are still prey to violence because of internal, fratricidal and inter-community conflicts,” Mr. Schori said. Such tragedies are unhappily accompanied, frequently, by inexcusable attacks on human rights.

“There must be a greater mobilization to proscribe such tragedies that cause so many families to mourn, and that break apart populations and destroy the social dynamic of African communities,” he said.