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UN Human Rights Office and African Court sign agreement

The UN Human Rights Chief and the President of Africa’s premier human rights court on Saturday, 9 February, signed a detailed agreement designed to strengthen the working relationship between the two organizations.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and the President of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights Sylvain Oré signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the margins of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of African States in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

“We already had a good relationship with African human rights system as a whole,” said Bachelet. “However, with this agreement, we are taking it to another level. It will enable us to improve the synergies between the two organizations. The Court is a critically important mechanism for the promotion and protection of peoples’ and human rights in Africa, and it is an invaluable partner in the region.”

The two organizations aim to support each other’s work at both the international and regional levels, especially with regard to the interpretation and implementation of human rights norms and standards, as well as the practice of international and regional courts and tribunals.

“We have already discussed a number of possible activities,” Bachelet said. “These include increasing our knowledge of the practice and jurisprudence of the Court, and its dissemination at the international level, as well as enhancing the understanding by the Court of the work of the UN Treaty Bodies that monitor the implementation of the core international human rights treaties, with the close support of my Office.”

The President of the African Court Hon Justice Oré said: ‘’The Court and the UN Office share common values on humanity, including the culture of promoting and protecting human rights.’’

The negotiation and signing of the MoU were given renewed impetus during a meeting in September between UN human rights experts and the Court’s judges and officials on the issue of the death penalty. The MoU would help the two organizations to hold similar events on a regular basis focusing on other aspects of administration of justice of mutual interest to the Court and the UN Human Rights Office.

“This is not simply to talk among ourselves,” Bachelet said. “This agreement aims to produce tangible benefits for people across Africa, making their rights more accessible and States’ obligations to uphold their legal responsibilities towards their people more enforceable.”

The UN Human Rights Office has signed similar agreements with other regional inter-governmental organizations, including the Council of Europe, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

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