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How important are regional human rights commissions, such as the African Commission, in promoting/monitoring/enforcing human rights? Does WaterAid work with these commissions currently?

Following a really interesting talk from Mosharraf Hossain from ADD on the disability rights movement, I am interested in hearing perspectives on the importance of regional commissions on human rights, such as the African Commission, in promoting and monitoring human rights within countries they are responsible for. Does WaterAid do any work around this or with these regional commissions to ensure governments are held to account?

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Regional Human Rights mechanisms can be useful to engage on a particular topic. See the example here: where a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) got recommendations on the human right to education and privatisation, specific to Uganda.

Generally, the regional commissions work in similar ways to the Commissions/Committees at the UN: - They monitor states’ implementation of the regional human rights treaties in Africa, Americas and Europe through periodic reports submitted by states - They have Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups on specific topics. I know that the African Commission discussed at some point the creation of a water & sanitation mandate, but I don’t know how this has evolved. From looking through some activity reports, I remember that they were very thin in substance. I imagine that Special Rapporteurs at least at the African Commission are even more under-resourced than they are at the UN. - They have different kinds opportunities for individual complaints (through a complaint or court mechanism or a combination of both).

In terms of their importance, it is again similar to the UN: If CSOs can engage them, then useful recommendations can come out of resolutions, reports or individual cases – which can then be taken back to the national level and used for advocacy purposes. Given that the mechanisms are regional as opposed to global, these can be more context specific.

However, regarding resolution processes as opposed to expert reports, discussions may be very different and it may be harder (depending on the countries involved and the power dynamics) to stay “true to human rights”.

Regarding Asia, there is an ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, but it is very different. Firstly, ASEAN is a small region and secondly, many countries are the opposite of human rights friendly. It remains very different because the body does not work under/with a regional human rights treaty, but gives itself a programme of work for five years.

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