Appeal to the Heads of State of the African Union in view of the Cairo Summit

Press release
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The 11th summit of the African Union will take place in Egypt in July 2008. The International Board of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), gathered in Cairo, launched an appeal to the Heads of States and Governments to ensure that the summit :

ADOPT strong measures to guarantee the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Darfur, pursuant to the objectives of the African Union for the promotion of peace, security and stability in the continent. FIDH calls on the civil society from Egypt, North Africa, and the whole continent to increase its mobilisation in solidarity with the victims of Darfur and urges their respective governments to secure the end of attacks targeting the civilian population.
Civilian populations in Darfur and in the sub-region are still victims of serious violations of human rights in Darfur. FIDH calls for effective engagement of peace negotiations including all parties to the conflict, an immediate halt to all attacks against the civil society, the implementation of a genuine ceasefire, removal of all obstacles to the work of the United Nations - African Union hybrid mission, humanitarian organisations and human rights defenders and the installation of Eufor troops in Chad the Central African Republic, full cooperation between Sudan and the International Criminal Court to combat the impunity of perpetrators of the most crimes.

RECOGNISE the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes as the basis for sustainable peace on the continent and, for this purpose, effectively establishes the African Court for Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Three years after entry into force of the protocol establishing the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, this court is still not operational. The African Union must take urgent measure to operationalise this court, which is responsible for ensuring respect of rights guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The States should ratify the Statute of the Court and make it the instrument to be used by victims and of human rights defence organisations.

ADOPT the Convention for the protection of and assistance to displaced persons, an essential instrument for settling humanitarian disasters.
Close to half of the forcefully displaced persons in the world are in Africa. The Government responses to this situation are poor. This Convention, which includes the United Nations guidelines on displaced persons, can be used to shift responsibility to the States for this purpose.
However, the adoption of the Convention shall not exempt the international community, and more specifically the developed countries, of their responsibility to the displaced persons on this continent.

CONSOLIDATE the participation of the civilian population to the Union’s activities.
In compliance with the guidelines of the constitutive act of the African Union, the Heads of State and Government of the African Union should give due attention to the opinions and concerns of the representatives of the African and international civil society and allow them to participate in discussions of the African Union’s bodies. FIDH should like to recall that at previous summit meetings, the civil society had, in fact, been prevented from following the proceedings of the African Union. FIDH hopes that the Egyptian authorities will facilitate its participation.

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