The Realization of South-South Development Rights: Examples of Poverty Alleviation, Health, Education and Job Creation
December 12,2017   By:chinahumanrights.org
The Realization of South-South Development Rights: Examples of
Poverty Alleviation, Health, Education and Job Creation
Bamazi Kossi TCHAA
African Union

1. Human Rights: What are the priorities for Africa?
I begin by posing this question because the major challenge in respect of human rights in Africa today is precisely how the continent is able to promote the right to development. This includes, inter alia, the right to food, the right to water and sanitation, the right to education, the right to health and reproductive health, the right to housing, the right to clothing, the right to employment and the right to clean environment. In order for Africa to provide these rights, to continent has to address its own socio-economic condition characterised by inequality, unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment. These are the main policy priorities for Africa which resonate with Agenda 2063-The Africa We Want. Of the seven key aspirations of Agenda 2063, five speak directly to advancing the right to development by African citizens. That is why Africa would like to work with China and find ways in which to advance this long-term development blue-print of the continent. It is only through a concerted effort to advance a people-centered development that we will better ensure the human dignity, equality and decent living for all Africans especially the poor and marginalised in our societies. 
Of course, while prioritising the right to development for Africans, we are not oblivious to the need also to promote and protect civil and political rights such as the freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of association, media freedoms, freedom to choose leaders etc. Two of the seven aspirations of Agenda 2063 (namely aspiration 3 & 4) address specifically the promotion and protection of civil liberties and political rights in Africa. We are mindful, though, that African citizens can enjoy these civil liberties and political rights in a more fulfilling manner if their right to development as outlined above is guaranteed on a sustainable basis. For instance, it is impossible for an elderly, sick and hungry African citizen to go to a polling station during elections and exercise his/her right to choose his/her leaders. It is for this reason that liberal democracy that Africa inherited from the departing colonial powers in the late 1950s and early 1960s is totally inadequate in addressing the continent’s human rights challenges in their entirety. Above and beyond the Euro-centric liberal democracy, Africa fundamentally needs to fashion its own governance systems more and more towards developmental democracy: a democracy that balances socio-economic and cultural rights on one hand with civil liberties and political rights on the other. There cannot be meaningful and genuine freedom and happiness without development.
The founding father of the Republic of Tanzania in Eastern Africa, Mzee Julius Nyerere, captured this point aptly by observing that “freedom and development are as completely linked together as are chicken and eggs. Without chicken you get no eggs; and without eggs you soon have no chicken. Similarly, without freedom, you get not development, and without development you very soon lose your freedom”. This truism was echoed much later by the founding father of free South Africa, Dada Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela who also observed that “When we took on the project to transform society, one of our rallying cries was freedom from want. Our goal was to banish hunger, illiteracy and homelessness and ensure that everyone had access to food, education and housing. We saw freedom as inseparable from human dignity and equality…. We are fully aware that our freedom and our rights will only gain their meaning as we succeed together in overcoming the divisions and inequalities of our past and in improving the lives of all, especially the poor”.
2. Importance of South-South Cooperation
The AU has entered into a number of strategic partnerships to support its development agenda. While each of these frameworks is important from different perspectives, the AU puts much emphasis on the South-South cooperation as it bears the potential of more relevance and is based on the win-win relationships. 
The African Union is committed to working with China towards making our partnership fruitful in advancing our mutually reinforcing human rights agendas. There are important common and shared values of human and peoples’ rights that China and Africa and which make our partnership truly strategic. These include our common belief in both individual and collective rights; our communal way of life; the spirit of sharing; our belief in dialogue in resolving disputes; prioritisation of the poor, the weak and marginalised in our development paths etc. For us human and peoples’ rights are all about human dignity, equality and respect which in turn entail collective endeavours towards the fulfilment of both the individual and societal/communal goals. As the saying goes among the working class organised through their trade unions in Africa “an injury to one is an injury to all”; a motto that encourages workers to collectively struggle and fight for their rights against the injustices of the capitalist system.
In the specific context of Africa, the African Union is cognizant of the fact that we cannot achieve our human rights obligations adequately without addressing the plight of the marginalised sections of our societies. These include not only the workers, but also the peasants, women, youth, children, people with disabilities, minorities etc. It is in recognition of this reality that the AU mainstreams issues of gender equality and youth empowerment in all its programmes. This is a pragmatic approach given that of the continent’s 1.2 billion population, more that 50% are women and close to 70% are young people. It is no wonder, therefore, that the AU policy organs declared both 2015 and 2016 as the years for women’s empowerment and advancement of women’s rights. It is also not surprising that 2017 has been declared by the AU policy organs as the year of Harnessing Demographic Dividend Through Investments in Youth. The AU has specific shared values instruments addressing the rights of children and the rights of people with disabilities and minorities in the form of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights Relating to the Rights of People with Disabilities and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights respectively.
3. Opportunities for South-South Cooperation
All these issues fit into the African Union’s vision and objectives as enshrined in its 1981African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the 2000 Constitutive Act of the African Union; and the 2015 Agenda 2063-The Africa We Want. 
The decision by the Heads of States and Governments of the African Union in July 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda, to declare 2017-2026 as “the Human and Peoples’ Rights Decade” signal a renewed political commitment to advance the human rights agenda at continental level. In order to realize the shared vision of African leaders in declaring the human and peoples’ rights decade, the African Union Commission has developed a Ten Year Human Rights Implementation Plan which is aligned to the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063. Our hope is that our Chinese partners collaborate with us to implement this 10-year plan, prioritizing the right to development while still advancing civil liberties and political rights.
The AU has also embarked in the development of a Transitional Justice Policy as a continental mechanism aimed at supporting AU Member States emerging from violent conflicts in their pursuit for sustainable peace, justice, reconciliation, accountability and social harmony. It is meant to facilitate conflict transformation and peace-building and assist Member States to avoid relapse into violent conflicts again.
The Policy consecrate African particularities in the resolution of conflicts and restoration of sustainable peace. It provides a room to draw lessons and share experiences among AU Member States in articulating common concepts and principles towards the development and implementation of peace agreements and transitional justice institutions and initiatives on the continent.

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