The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) is a powerful human rights response to violations and occurrences across the continent. Such human rights violations include the outbreaks of conflicts and civil wars in countries such as Liberia. The Republic of Liberia ratified the African Charter in 1982 and its supplement instrument – The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) in 2007.
By virtue of its ratification of these instruments, the Republic of Liberia expressed commitment to ensure the human rights of all Liberians and to its reporting obligations as prescribed under Article 62 of the African Charter and Article 26(1) of the Maputo Protocol. However, despite these commitments, the last time the Republic of Liberia reported to the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (African Commission) on the African Charter was in 2012 and is yet to report on the Maputo Protocol.
In view of fulfilling the Republic of Liberia’s reporting obligations to the African Commission as prescribed under Article 62 of the African Charter therefore, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), Republic of Liberia hosted a three day drafting workshop focusing on the (Part A) African Charter section of the report. The drafting workshop was held in collaboration with Women’s Rights Unit, Centre for Human Rights (the Centre).
The African Charter drafting workshop follows an initial workshop held from the 3 - 5 June 2019 to strengthen the capacity of relevant stakeholders involved in the reporting process in the Republic of Liberia fulfill reporting obligations. (See link to news on the initial workshop here). The drafting workshop is the second phase in a series of engagements in assisting the Republic of Liberia to fulfill its reporting obligations to the African Commission. The workshop was held from Tuesday, 17 to Thursday, 19 September 2019 at the Boulevard Palace Hotel. A total of twenty-six stakeholders involved in the state reporting and drafting process in the Republic of Liberia attended this workshop. The stakeholders consisted of representatives from Government Ministries, National Human Rights Commission as well as Civil Society Organisations.
The main objective of the drafting workshop on the African Charter is to provide the requisite technical support as relevant stakeholders in the Republic of Liberia begin the process of drafting the African Charter (Part A) section of the report. In pursuant of this objective, the Centre had provided two technical consultants to assist the country in the drafting of its report. Part of the key role of the technical consultants involves extensive literature research and information together with engagement with the relevant stakeholders in order to compile and prepare a zero draft on the African Charter section of the report.
The preparation of the zero draft of the African Charter section of the report precipitated this first drafting workshop. Presentations focused on sharing with stakeholders and participants the zero draft of the African Charter. Participants were encouraged to review the report in order to be able to highlight existing gaps in the report. The review entailed intense and extensive engagement with key stakeholders involved in treaty body drafting and reporting processes. This includes information sharing, providing additional, comprehensive as well as accurate information and research; highlighting gaps and errors in the report as well as improving report writing and drafting skills in efforts aimed at enhancing the zero draft.
Another presentation on the art of drafting and report writing was given. This presentation provoked discussions on best practices when drafting a report including sentence and paragraph construction. A highlight from the presentation was the discussions on how the Republic of Liberia could use local and indigenous terms to explain certain occurrences and events that were exclusive to the local Liberian context.
A major highlight of the workshop was the practical group exercise. Participants were divided into groups of five based on specific themes. The groups were tasked with reviewing the zero draft report. In their respective groups, participants were required to
- review specific themes, then engage in practical drafting of the specific themes in efforts to provide useful and accurate research including statistical data and information, correct inaccurate or poorly phrased sentences, supply missing information as well as highlight the gaps
A major outcome at the end of the workshop was the significant commitment expressed by participants to continue the drafting process and enhance the quality of the African Charter section. Participants committed to setting up a group to ensure that information can be shared and engagements can continue.
The Centre will continue to work closely with this core group of participants as well as the technical consultants in a second drafting workshop expected to take place in November 2019. These engagements are key in efforts to strengthen the capacity of stakeholders and assist the Republic of Liberia to finalise its report to the African Commission in accordance with reporting obligations.
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