Statement on the Occasion of the Commemoration Of the 2018 Africa Human Rights Day Under The Theme: Fighting Corruption and Advancing Human Rights: Our Collective Responsibility

October 21, 2018

Addis Ababa, 21 October 2018: Today, as we commemorate the 2018 Africa Human Rights Day, we must recall the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations in 1948. In a few months’ time, on 10 December 2018, Africa and the entire world will be commemorating the Seventy Years Anniversary of the adoption of the UDHR. Against this backdrop, we remind ourselves of the basic principles of justice, equality, non-discrimination, inclusion and respect for people of all races that this instrument stands for.
In addition to the ongoing reform of our continental organization, significant transformations are underway in Africa, including the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the African Union Protocol on Free Movement. These two key developments, amongst others, require a concurrent promotion of human rights and the fight against corruption to guarantee their intended impact and sustainability. The African Union and its Member States cannot accomplish this enormous task alone. All hands, including those of civil society and the private sector, must be on deck for the full realization of the above through the effective implementation of the Agenda 2063.
As part of its efforts to promote transparency, accountability and development in Africa, the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government declared 2018 as the year of “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”. Bearing in mind the nexus between corruption and human rights violation and the dangers they posed to Africa’s transformative agenda, the 2018 Human Rights Day is dedicated to the fight against corruption and human rights violations, in order to guarantee Africa’s development agenda.
Commemorating human rights connotes different things to different people globally. For us as Africans, it is a reminder of the past human rights abuses, including denial of self-governance through colonization, apartheid, mass-atrocities and genocide amongst others. It also means a determination to never again tolerate such human rights violations and a re-commitment to the culture, values and principles that human rights stand for. In this respect, it is encouraging to note the adoption of different human rights instruments. The effective implementation of the commitments made, however, remains a critical challenge.
The African Union dedicated the year 2015 to women’s’ empowerment and development to promote and protect the rights of the women and girl child. Similarly, 2016 was declared as the year of human rights, with emphasis on the rights of women. 2017 was dedicated to the promotion of youth rights, with emphasis on harnessing the demographic dividend.
2018 was declared as the African year of promoting socio-economic rights, through the fight against corruption. As we all know, corruption undermines the effective functioning of public and private institutions and limits the effectiveness of social and public service delivery. It is a structural obstacle to the advancement of socio-economic and development rights.
While efforts against corruption and human rights violations in Africa have been commendable, there is still a distance to go. This year is, therefore, a clarion call to all of us to join hands together and fight corruption and human rights violations, so that Africa can realize Agenda 2063.
On behalf of the African Union Commission, I wish all Africans and friends of Africa a happy Africa Human Rights Day.
I thank you.

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