On 23 October 2023, the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria (the Centre) hosted a side event on the margins of the ongoing 77th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) taking place in Arusha, Tanzania. The side event was aimed at highlighting issues emerging from the apparent concurrence and overlap of reporting processes related to the implementation of the Maputo Protocol.  The processes of concern are the State Periodic Reporting to the African Commission as outlined under the Guidelines on State Reporting under the Maputo Protocol, and the reporting under the Maputo Protocol Score Card Index which was recently adopted by the African Union.

 The two processes call on member states to assess the extent to which they have taken measures to advance the rights of women in their countries. They are both tools necessary to realise the transformative potential of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). However, to the extent that both processes have different sources of the reporting obligations, and technical requirements articulated and endorsed separately by the African Commission and the African Union, the event sought to offer member states’ representatives and other stakeholders clarity on the two processes, points of synergy, and the utility of both processes in monitoring the extent of the implementation of the Maputo Protocol.

States Parties to the Maputo Protocol have the duty to submit, on a periodic basis, reports on the implementation of the Protocol’s provisions, for consideration by the African Commission. To support member states that are party to the Maputo Protocol to implement the treaty and other related commitments, the African Union adopted a Maputo Protocol Scorecard and Index (MPSI). The Maputo Protocol Scorecard and Index (MPSI) aims to promote compliance and accountability for implementation of continental treaties on women’s rights.

Historically, member states have been required to submit state reports to the African Commission in line with the African Commission Guidelines on State Reporting under the Maputo Protocol (African Commission Guidelines). With the adoption of the MPSI, the African Union Commission (AUC)’ s Women, Gender and Development Directorate (AUC-WGDD) has developed an MPSI Report Generation Guide 2022 (MPSI Guide) that is also aimed at providing a guide for state reporting under the Maputo Protocol. Several stakeholders are involved in the process of submitting and reviewing Periodic Reports. These are mainly States Parties and the Commission, but also National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and civil society organisations who are vested in the monitoring process.

Hon Commissioner Janet Sallah-Njie the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa and newly elected Vice Chairperson of the African Commission opened the event by reiterating the obligation on states to meet their reporting obligations. Dr Mohamed Djalel E. Benabdoun, Focal Person on State Periodic Reporting at the African Commission detailed the reporting process and provided updates that the African Commission Secretariat has put in place to streamline the reporting process for member states. These measures includes the adoption of Resolution on Action to be taken by the Commission in the event of a prolonged delay in the Submission of an Initial State Report under Article 62 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Proactive Approach - ACHPR/Res.566 (LXXVI) 2023. This resolution was passed by the African Commission to create a special dispensation for member states that have not filed initial state reports on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Ms Lindiwe Ngwenya, a Gender Specialist representing the AUC-WGDD, clarified that the MPSI is an assessment tool adopted by the African Union, and which uses scoring by the AUC on 226 indicators. She reiterated that the MPSI process is not intended to replace the state reporting process but to support the efforts of member states to report to the African Commission. She clarified that the documents relating to the MPSI will soon be available  to the public.

Prof Frans Viljoen, Professor of Law at the Centre reflected on his assessment of the two processes. He called for a process to consider the ways in which the two processes and the reporting guidelines developed under both can be synchronised. He cautioned against creating the risk of member states being confused regarding which of the two guides to adopt and creating the impression that it is an additional reporting obligation. He emphasised that the reporting obligation is a legal obligation grounded on Article 26(1) of the Maputo Protocol. As it stands member states have indicated the challenge in meeting the reporting timelines under this obligation. Prof Viljoen called on stakeholders of the two processes to offer clarity to member states that the MPSI is not creating an additional obligation and to clarify the role it plays in supporting them to meet their legal reporting obligation.

Overall, the panel called for further engagement to ensure harmonisation of the two processes noting that their successful implementation will result in the realisation of women’s rights and an improvement in their lives. The Centre undertook to continue to facilitate discussions to enable this harmonisation with the guidance of the Office of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa.


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