ECOWAS: Human rights advocates in W/Africa tasked as conference opens

Bissau, Guinea-Bissau (PANA) - Guinea Bissau Premier Domingos Simoes Pereira has challenged human rights advocates in West Africa to integrate other dimensions of human rights into their effort for a more holistic campaign, PANA reported Thursday.

Opening an international conference on human rights here Wednesday, the Prime Minister acknowledged the validity of the campaign and the need to promote justice and deepen democracy, but urged campaigners to recognise its other elements, including the need to improve the living conditions of the citizens through the provision of infrastructure and by addressing unemployment, particularly among the youths.

He blamed the development challenges facing the country partly on the fact that none of the previous democratic governments had completed its tenure, a situation that denied the country of a sustained intervention in addressing its development challenges, particularly in the development of infrastructure.

He hailed the various international support for the country, whose development needs are the subject of an international donors conference in Brussels later this month, and assured that the government was determined to work with its international partners, including ECOWAS in furthering its development to match those of its neighbours.

The Prime Minister also commended ECOWAS, which has a peacekeeping force in the country and has made financial contributions to the assist the country overcome some of its development challenges, as evidence of African “solidarity and friendship”

Earlier, ECOWAS Court President Justice Maria de Ceu Silva Monteiro said the conference would not only contribute to sensitising the citizens on the role of the court, but specifically provide a platform to dialogue on the region´s commitment to the promotion of the human rights of the citizens and the role of the court in its protection.

In this regard, she said the three-day conference, the fourth to be organised by the Court, will contribute towards building the capacity of its staff for effectiveness in discharging its mandate, one of which is the protection of the human rights of the 300 million citizens of the region.

ECOWAS Commission Vice President Toga McIntosh delivered the goodwill message of the Commission in which he characterised human rights protection in West Africa as a non-negotiable part of the region´s development agenda.

“The issue of human rights protection is so fundamental now in this century that it has become the dominant subject of many discussions relating to vital issues of common interest to human development,” the Vice President told the 70 participants attending the conference and dignitaries at the opening ceremony.

He urged the Court to rely on the Community´s values as “excellent foundation” to discharge its pivotal role in the “search for and dispensation of social justice” that will adequately protect the rights of community citizens and provide an assurance “as they go about their daily business for a better life”.

Chairman of the Governing Council of the Nigeria’s Human Rights Commission Chidi Odinkalu delivered the keynote address in which he traced the progressive recognition and role of human rights in regional integration, exemplified by its integration into the 1993 revised ECOWAS Treaty as one of the pillars of the region´s integration project.

The biennial conference is being held under the theme ''Human rights as a fundamental value of ECOWAS: an analysis of the jurisprudence of the ECOWAS Court of Justice'' with participants drawn from within and outside the region.
-0- PANA SEG 19March2015

19 mars 2015 14:02:21

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