The African Union (AU) Executive Council has emphasized the importance of upholding human rights especially women’s rights in Africa for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa under the Agenda 2063 framework.
This came at the opening of the 28th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council today 27 January 2016, at the AU Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme: “2016: African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women”.
The opening ceremony was attended by a high level gathering that included: H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma AUC Chairperson, the United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr Carlos Lopez, AU Ministers of Foreign Affairs, AU Commissioners, officials and invited guests.
Addressing the distinguished delegates at the opening ceremony, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma reiterated the AU vision which is to build an Africa that is driven by its citizens and stressed its relevance to the theme of this year, “African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the rights of women”. The Chairperson recalled aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063 which clearly states the African Union position of achieving “an Africa whose development is people driven , relying on the potential of the African people especially its women, youth and caring for children”.
Dr. Dlamini Zuma emphasized that Agenda 2063 is not only the program of the AU but also for the various diversities of African people from all walks of life, the poets, singers, dancers, youth, women and girls , private sector, farmers, entrepreneurs the children of Africa and all African citizens, men and women, young and old, urban and rural as well as the diaspora.
Dr Dlamini Zuma recognised efforts by the youth in entrepreneurship, innovation, universities, and civil society; tackling Africa’s problems in innovative ways. She however recalled that the report on the critical skills for Agenda 2063 from the just concluded Mekele retreat highlighted a huge skills gap. The AUC Chair called for discussions with Africa’s private sector on industrialisation, agriculture, infrastructure development, movement of goods, people and services among others.
In relation to this year’s theme on Human Rights with particular focus on the rights of women, Dr. Dlamini Zuma said since the launch of the first African Gender Scorecard, countries have taken steps to do better and that in 2016, the gender score card would focus on indicators related to human rights.
Dr. Dlamini in her closing remarks commended the resilience of the people and governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and the continental and global solidarity that put an end to the Ebola epidemic.
Hon. Simbarashe S. Mumbengegwi Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Chair of the Executive Council in his opening remarks called for domestication of Agenda 2063 and continued commitment towards the fulfilment of the African Vision. He further added that the issue of terrorism which has caused loss of lives and property has negatively affected the socio-economic development of some parts of the continent hence the need to unite against all forms of terrorism.
Mr. Mumbengegwi in his conclusion congratulated the AU member states for conducting successful elections in the past year, which he said reflect the collective commitment to democracy and good governance. He also seized the opportunity to inform his colleagues that Zimbabwe’s tenure as Chair of the African Union comes to an end during this 26th AU Summit, and went on to further attribute the successes achieved during the year to the cooperation of the Executive Council, the PRC members, the Commission and other AU institutions (See complete speech of the Zimbabwe Minister of Foreign Affairs on the AU Website: au.int ).
The United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr Carlos Lopez underscored the need for structural transformation to boost Africa’s Economic advancement. Mr. Lopez condemned the genocide in Rwanda.
In his conclusion Mr. Carlos Lopez called on member states to prioritise putting an end to armed conflicts. (See complete speech of Mr. Carlos Lopez on the AU Website: au.int ).
The Executive Council meeting is the second of three statutory meetings to be held under the on-going 26th summit of the African Union, holding from 21 to 31 January 2016. The first meeting was that of the Permanent Representatives Committee which was held from 21 to 23 January. The final meeting of the summit will be that of the Heads of State and Government to take place from 30-31 January.
For two days, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs/External Relations and other ministers or authorities duly designated will convene in closed session to deliberate on the different items on their agenda including the consideration of the report of the Permanent Representatives Committee.
The Executive Council will prepare the agenda of the Heads of State with appropriate recommendations for consideration by the Assembly.