NEPAD AND HUMAN RIGHTS: A LINK TO CLARIFY

25/06/2002
Press release
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Among the issues to address on the G8’s meeting agenda starting today is notably NEPAD (New Partnership for the Development of Africa).

After its endorsement by the UAO (Organization for African Unity) the NEPAD will be presented by heads of state from four African nations. It represents an "appeal for new relations in partnership between Africa and the international community." (NEPAD document, 2001) The FIDH welcomes this step whom African heads of state have taken regarding the development of their continent with in a democratic framework, and hopes that this initiative effectively responds to the development needs of Africa.

In particular, the FIDH welcomes the fact that the foundation of NEPAD, the Declaration on Democracy, Political Economic and Corporate Governance, takes root in the regional and international conventions on human rights.
The FIDH reaffirms that all policy linked to development or to economic and commercial issues should be conceived within the human rights framework established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its subsequent texts. In addition to being a legal obligation, it is also an efficient policy. It has now been widely accepted that respect for human rights does not harm economic development, but on the contrary,might promote and reinforce it.
It will therefore be up to the NEPAD partners to ensure that their initiative is rooted in human rights principles. In this regard, the FIDH is concerned that the NEPAD does not sufficiently address the indispensable indivisibility of all rights, including economic and social rights.

In fact, if its references to international instruments are quite encouraging, it is nevertheless concerning to note that in its current version, the NEPAD programs are based on the same principles used by the Breton-Woods institutions. The FIDH recalls that these programs are still very often criticized by a number of African states and that the international community has recognized their disastrous impact on human rights.
For example, while NEPAD conceives the role of public institutions through the market regulation angle, it only reiterates the principles of structural adjustment policy.

The FIDH is concerned with NEPAD’s logic regarding investment and growth financing as well as policies relating to the fight against poverty. For example, the allocation of funds has not been sufficiently committed. As a result, states therefore neglect their obligation to prioritize funding to basic public services, such as primary education, health and access to water. As such, states risk contravening their obligations (according to the conventions that they ratified) of using "the maximum of their available resources" to satisfy their populations’ fundamental rights.

In addition, the document ignores redistributive policies in the fight against poverty, whether land or fiscal redistribution. The absence of such public redistributive policies is precisely one of the essential causes of the powerful income inequalities between the different groups in Africa.

As for the APRM (African Peer Review Mechanism), commissioned to ensure that partnering states respect the Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance, the FIDH sees this mechanism as a potential tool to reinforce fundamental rights in Africa. However, it fears that it could lead to empty promises, and mistakenly lends credibility to barely defensible regimes. It is important that the APRM does not enter into conflict with the existing mechanisms dealing with human rights, such as the African Commission on Peoples’ and Human Rights, but in fact reinforces them. The FIDH notes that it is essential that APRM members are in fact independent so as to assure the success of its monitoring activities.

Moreover, The FIDH considers that it is indispensable that the APRM undertakes a human rights impact assessment of NEPAD policies.

Generally, the relationship between NEPAD and existing regional and sub-regional institutions (including the African Union) will have to be clarified, notably the sharing of prerogatives and resources (human and financial).

The regional ownership of development policy should not exonerate industrialised nations of their responsibility in the African continent’s bankruptcy and their obligations regarding public development aid.
Private investments will never be able to substitute a sound and coherent international cooperation.

The FIDH notes that the states, notably the G8, have the obligation by virtue of the international conventions they ratified, to commit 0.7% of their GNP for development aid. So far, none of the G8 nations have reached this threshold.

The FIDH calls for all African nations to clarify the position of human rights within the NEPAD. If the NEPAD is to become the stepping stone for development in Africa, it requires that G8 nations provide all their support.

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