Interview : « Each human being deserves to live with dignity »

Wednesday 21 April 2010 by Assoal

After the African regional workshop on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESC Rights) enforceability approaches from January 18th to 22nd in Yaounde (Cameroon), Madani Koumaré, African coordinator of the ESC Rights international programme talks about the ESC Rights in Africa.

T.C. : What is the international training program to ESC Rights enforceability approaches? ?

Two French Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Terre des Hommes France and Juristes-Solidarités, have initiated this project on ESC rights enforceability approaches with their partners, in Africa (Benin, Cameroon, Mali, Senegal, Togo), in Latin America (Guatemala, Mexico) and in Asia (India, Philippines). Through the exchange of good practices on promotion and requirement’s rights, the aim is to train partners to innovatory methods in terms of enforceability and justiciability. The international programme is inclined to be a catalyst for the respect and the universal access to ESC rights, thanks to among others means, the knowledge and the optimal use of human rights instruments (see http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/i...), mechanisms and treaty-based bodies.

T.C. : What is planned for Africa ?

The programme has mutual objectives of operational implementation for the NGOs and the networks of the countries that are concerned by the project taking place on three continents. It mainly consists in holding international, regional (like this one in Yaounde) or national training sessions (with the participation of experts). Each time, these conferences lead to methodological guides about the topics developed. For instance, the first guide available on the website www.escrights-action.org (nous avons un nom du site en anglais) deals with the drafting of civil society reports in an alternative, comparative, additional or contradictory way compared to those produced by the States members of the International Covenant on ESC rights.

T.C. : After this African meeting, do you think that the NGOs or the African platforms are well-equipped to launch campaigns that claim for ESC Rights in their countries?

The meeting targets some teaching objectives which seem to have been fulfilled, given the assessment that was carried out. Considering the content of the debates and the quality of the methodological tools that were shared and approved, the coming interventions would be more structured and more focused on the setting-up of our agenda concerning the advocacy in favor of the universal access to ESC Rights.

T.C. : Which are the difficulties these platforms have to expect standing out for for ESC Rights in Africa?

The ultimate goal of our work is to improve the living conditions of the citizens of our countries, in a sustainable way, through enlightened public policies that would respect principles of universal human rights. In other words, the claim is stirred up and supported by civil society protagonists against public authorities who are generally the first in charge of rights’ respect and implementation. Resistance is inevitable and can bring about various forms of conflicts, which can lead to the wanted changes. That gives legitimacy to the learning of strategies of social mobilization and political advocacy on the subjects treated.

T.C. : Practical case. What would you recommend to do against the current forced evictions and destruction that prevail in the city of Yaounde? ?

Each human being deserves to live with dignity. When the conditions force him to do so, he should be ready to assert this unalienable right, which includes the security arisen from the access to a decent housing. The solution would be to organize these people, who are generally citizens deprived of fundamental rights at the very beginning, into a social movement based on an enforceability approach consolidated with national and international norms, as we have adapted them during this African meeting. Nothing can resist forever to organized social pressure when it is legitimate and justified by rights denial.

Propos recueillis par Eric O. LEMBEMBE


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