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Remarks by KNCHR Vice Chair Mr George Morara during the opening session of the African National Human Rights Institutions SDG Working Group on 24th January 2019, Nairobi .

Commissioner Joseph Whittal – Chairperson of the Ghana Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice/Chair of the NANRHI SDG Working Group

Mr. Gilbert Sebihogo - Executive Director of Network of African National Human Rights Institutions

Ms. Francesca Thornberry - The Chief Adviser, Human Rights and Sustainable Development, at the Danish Institute for Human Rights

Commissioners and colleagues from the various NHRIS represented here

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure, on behalf of the KNCHR, to say to you all Karibuni Kenya (welcome to Kenya).

National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) undoubtedly continue to play a significant role, not only in promoting and protecting human rights, but also in enhancing accountability across all sectors of society.

It is in this regard that we gather here for two days, in this first formal meeting of the NANHRI Working Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Africa Agenda 2063 to:

  • reflect on the Working Group’s terms of reference and progress thereof
  • identify priorities and adopt a work plan for the year 2019

The output of this meeting will therefore be an important tool to help NHRIs across the African continent to sharpen their focus on the distinct contributions they can, and should make, to development by ensuring the adoption of a human rights-based approach and integration of human rights and accountability in the 2030 and 2063 agendas.

This is because, whereas both the SDGs and the Africa Agenda 2063 (‘The Africa We Want’) are social and economic development frameworks, they present critical opportunities for enhanced realization of human rights universally.As NHRIs, we must take cognizance of the constantly changing political, economic and social trends in our countries and the international arena and, in so doing, position ourselves to continue shaping the outcomes of the said trends by ensuring that the trends and their outcomes are entrenched in human rights. We play a vanguard role in guiding politics along human rights standards and in the legal frameworks, economic frameworks, security interventions, environmental mitigation strategies and, generally, the development agendas of our governments.

This, ladies and gentlemen, oftentimes, ours is not an easy role: As such, NHRIs must remain alert to attempts to either disregard or discredit our work and become resilient, committed and consistent in putting the human rights agenda first, not only in the SDGs and Africa Agenda 2063 but in all development frameworks proclaimed by governments at the national level.At the international level, our countries continue to negotiate conventions and treaties through the United Nations’ platform aimed at addressing emerging human rights issues like; business and human rights, migration, protection of human rights defenders, cyber security, digital currencies, the fight against terrorism, among others. These international instruments will definitely impact on the regional instruments and ultimately the work of the NHRIs.

A slowing down of trade and economic growth in Africa poses a challenge to our national economies, thereby affecting the implementation of vital development programs in critical sectors such as health, education and infrastructure. If the trend continues, there is a likelihood of growth in inequalities and vulnerabilities especially among children, women, persons with disabilities, older persons and the sick. This can drastically impede the realization of human rights across the continent.

This strategic meeting therefore, could not have come a better time! The meeting accords each of us an opportunity to reflect on the progress made and the roles that the NHRIs represented here have played in regards to the realization of SDGs and the Africa Agenda 2063.This forum also presents us with the opportunity to share experiences, learn from one another and generate a unified plan of action for timely interventions in the SDGs and the Africa Agenda 2063 implementation.

For the Kenyan NHRI, this meeting comes barely six months after the launch of our new Strategic Plan (2018-2023), which will be implemented against the backdrop of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

To this end, KNCHR is keen to, not only share experiences but also to learn from peers across the continent. This will go a long way in helping us align the implementation of our strategic plan to the aspirations of the family of NHRIs, both at the continental and global levels as represented by NANHRI and GANHRI respectively.At the regional level, treaty bodies provide the necessary platform for advancing human rights and fundamental freedoms. The several treaties concluded under the auspices of the AU provide an opportunity for governments to secure the enjoyment of human rights. They also increase the role of NHRIs in monitoring, promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms within their respective jurisdictions.

It is invigorating to note the increasingly important role that the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI) is playing in supporting and strengthening the capacities of NHRIs on the continent of Africa to position themselves as the frontline agents of social, economic and political development, including through working to ensure timely achievement of the SDGs and the Africa Agenda 2063.

As we position ourselves to play our rightful role as agents of development, NHRIs must remain cognizant of threats to peace and security in the various parts of our continent that continue to impede the achievement of both the development and the human rights agendas. Besides political and civil unrest in some of the countries in our continent, the region continues to experience insecurity from militia groups, terror groups such as the recent attack in Nairobi, rebels and organized gangs that continue to threaten our continental stability hence increasing the human rights violations of our people.

In addition, as we acknowledge our citizens’ growing dissatisfaction and cynicism with public institutions/duty bearers due to the huge economic burden and limited enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.This calls on NHRIs to put focus, not just in building public awareness, but also on the deliberate internalization of behavioral change models that will make citizens gain confidence in NHRIs as critical organs for enhanced integrity and accountability in our respective countries.

Finally, I wish to sincerely thank the organizers of this meeting and I wish you all fruitful deliberations.

Thank You.

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