NANHRI chairperson says AFCFTA remains a mere document

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By: Modou Touray

Dr Elastro Hilarious Mugwadi, the chairperson of Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI) has said Africa free trade agreement remains a mere document hence actors are slow in its implementation. He stated that adoption and ratification of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) is a positive progress towards achieving an integrated market on the continent for over 1.3 billion people.

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Dr Hilarious Magwadi was delivering a statement on the sidelines of the 73rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the theme: “Trade and Human Rights in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) agreement: inclusive implementation of the agreement with participation of vulnerable population.”

He expressed concern that national negotiation and implementation plans have continued to exclude key human rights actors.

Network of National Human Rights Institutions is the umbrella body of all human rights institutions on the continent.

“States should establish national mechanisms in the form of special committees, incorporate diverse interested parties by National Human Rights Institutions and Civil Society Organisations to monitor and report on the implementation of the AFCFTA).”

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Dr Mugwadi also challenged national human rights institutions to work with other actors in reviewing protocols and other policies impeding free movement of people and goods and services and the ‘Makere’ recommendations for alignment.

“We can only trade in an integrated Africa where every country is home for everyone. We cannot trade with each other when our laws consider us foreigners to one another,” he advised

He added: “Indeed, our report, the baseline Assessment and Stakeholders Mapping of national human rights institutions and other actors involvement in the African Continental Free Trade Area processes established that no National Human Rights Institution was involved in the negotiations towards the agreement.”

He noted the importance of stakeholders.

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“If untamed, continued exclusion of other key actor will breed, propagate and perpetuate impunity and other make it hard to mainstream human rights into African Continental free trade agreement. This is against the integration spirit of this flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063 – a development blueprint of human rights.”

Dr Magwadi further pointed out that the accelerated ratification of the AFCFTA has triggered negotiations of inter state and sub-regional initiatives as African Union Members seek to anchor businesses and investments.

The African Union Draft Policy Framework on Business and Human Rights has been under review for over a decade now.

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