- The 14th African Union (AU) - European Union (EU) Human Rights Dialogue took place on 12 October 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.
- The dialogue offered a unique platform to enhance the already strong relations and to further reinforce cooperation between the EU and the AU based on the universality of human rights. In an increasingly polarised world, both organisations expressed their readiness and determination to jointly address pressing human rights and democracy issues on both continents. They took stock of progress made, charted the way forward and fully converged upon the necessity to translate commitments into concrete action.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 70 years ago, remains the milestone document, which underpins all international human rights law and inspires both the EU and the AU to continue to work to ensure all people can gain freedom, equality and dignity on both continents. At the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, the EU and the AU also honoured his legacy as symbol for democracy, human dignity and reconciliation. Both expressed determination to take the necessary action, including legal, institutional and other measures as appropriate, to achieve widespread ratification and accelerate full and effective implementation of Human Rights and democratic governance instruments. The EU's continuous support to the African Human Rights System and its core organs, including by means of preserving their independence remains critical. In this context, full support will be given to the launch and implementation of the 10-Year Action Plan of the Human and People's Rights Decade in Africa.
- The EU and AU discussed recent developments in Africa and Europe in the area of human rights, notably progress made by the AU organs tasked with a human rights mandate, in particular the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR), African Court on Human and People's Rights (AfCHPR) and the AU Advisory Board on Corruption (AUABC). The EU emphasised, inter alia, its strengthened commitment to the human right to water and sanitation and called for the full integration of the human rights dimension in the strategic approach for sustainable access to safe drinking water and management of water resources. Both agreed to take the necessary steps, including mutual learning and exchange of best practices, to assert the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation for all in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.
- The EU and the AU reaffirmed their commitment to the promotion and protection of all human rights, including the rights of People of African Descent and support to the the International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015–2024, as proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in Resolution (68/237), adopted on 23 December 2013. The AU and EU reiterated their commitment to the theme of the Decade, namely ‘’People of African descent: recognition, justice and development".
- On the Abolition of Death Penalty, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights will step up its efforts to move ahead with the adoption of the Protocol to the Charter on abolishing the Death Penalty in Africa, which was welcomed by the EU. The EU reiterated its readiness to continue supporting the AU efforts towards the adoption of this protocol. In this regard, both also referred to the importance of the Regional Congress against Death Penalty, which took place in Côte d'Ivoire in April 2018. They called upon African countries to abolish the death penalty, ahead of the 7th World Congress on the Death Penalty to be held in Brussels in February 2019 and welcomed the positive recent steps taken by The Gambia declaring a moratorium on executions, by Burkina Faso abolishing the death penalty and by Benin removing the death penalty from the Penal Code.
- In the follow-up to the 7th AU-EU Civil Society Human Rights seminar, both parties agreed to advance on the organisation of an expert-level conference to promote networking, mutual learning and the exchange of best practices to prevent and eliminate torture and ill treatment.
- On Business and Human Rights, both welcomed the efforts towards the development of an AU Policy Framework on Business and Human Rights which facilitates the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The AU expressed appreciation for the EU's valuable cooperation and partnership in finalising the draft Policy through continued consultations. Both agreed to work to ensure Foreign Direct Investment in their respective countries be undertaken in full compliance with transparency and international human rights law.
- On Corruption and Human Rights, the two institutions commended the theme of the African Union for 2018, namely, "Winning the Fight against Corruption: a Sustainable paths to Africa’s Transformation" consistent with the AU Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda, notably SDG 16: they also emphasised the strong linkages between corruption and human rights violation and concluded that the effects of corruption on socio-economic rights constitute serious challenges to the realization of the African Agenda 2063. In this regard, both sides remain committed to continue their collaboration in the fight against corruption and human rights violations.
- The EU and the AU reaffirmed their commitment to promote an effective multilateral system as the best way to prevent chaos, conflicts and confrontations in a multi-polar world. In this regard they expressed their readiness to reinforce synergies and coordination in tackling human rights and democratic challenges on both continents. They acknowledge the importance of building-up strategic alliances in international fora, including the United Nations Human Rights Council, to promote universal respect for and observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The EU welcomed the participation of four African countries, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Cape Vert and Tunisia, in the recent launch of the Good Human Rights Stories Initiative in the margins of the Ministerial week of the 73 UN General Assembly. The EU welcomed the inclusion of two African countries in the Global Alliance for Torture-Free Trade which aims to prevent and restrict trade in goods used for capital punishment and torture worldwide and will work together with the AU to promote further accessions. The AU welcomed the ongoing formulation of a human rights compliance framework being developed related to the G5 Sahel Joint Force, by the G5 Sahel, the UN and the EU.
- The EU expressed its readiness to support AU efforts to develop and implement a comprehensive human rights compliance framework for AU Peace Support Operations.
- On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute, both parties underlined the imperative to address impunity, and reiterated their commitment to international criminal justice. They also discussed the International Criminal Court, universal jurisdiction and the need for complementarity at national, regional and international levels.
- Both sides reiterated their engagement to the Africa Governance Architecture and to democratic institutional development, in particular through the application of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. Within this context, the EU and AU agreed to continue their cooperation on election observation methodology. The two sides committed to strengthen collaboration in the follow-up to election observation missions' recommendations, many of which address the wider issues of human rights and democratic governance in electoral processes. Both sides welcomed the positive outcome of a high-level conference, held prior to the dialogue, on the future of international election observation. This offered the opportunity to reinforce our joint commitments in the area of election observation, electoral processes, and enhance the trilateral AU-EU-UN partnership.
- The EU and the AU reiterated their commitment to working together at all levels to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against girls and women.
They particularly welcomed the African pillar of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative with targeted and large-scale investments aiming at improving the lives of women and girls in Africa. Both parties agreed to organise a joint high-level launch in Addis in the near future.
- Building on the engagement taken during the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan in November 2017 to promote a positive, and constructive and multidimensional approach to migration that takes place in a safe, orderly and regular manner both sides reiterated their commitment to identifying key areas for joint actions to eliminate trafficking in human beings. The initiatives undertaken in this regard within the framework of the joint AU-EU-UN Taskforce to address the migrant situation in Libya, including the provision of support to voluntary return and resettlement operations from Libya or the facilitation of closer collaboration between relevant AU and EU operations such as AFRIPOL and EUROPOL, will be taken forward.
- During last year's dialogue, both parties agreed to include youth on the agenda and to invite youth representatives to actively and meaningfully participate in the 2018 AU-EU Human Rights Dialogue. In this context, Civil Society together with youth representatives met in advance of the dialogue for a two day seminar to discuss Youth and Political Inclusion. The conclusions of these discussions were presented during the dialogue. Both parties recognised the importance of engaging independent civil society in our processes, on our continents.
- Both parties noted that extensive efforts have been undertaken during the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan in November 2017 to ensure a strengthened inclusion of youth, in line with the overarching summit theme of "Investing in Youth for an Accelerated Growth and a Sustainable Future". In this regard, work is progressing on the follow-up to the Abidjan Youth Declaration and the AU-EU Youth Agenda, notably on how to include young people in our joint policy work and development cooperation. Aside from the youth inclusion in this year's Human Rights Dialogue, this is amongst others taking place via the AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub.
- The Dialogue was led by H.E. Amb. Minata Samate Cessouma, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, and H.E. Mr. Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights.
The AU participants included: Amb. Ahmad Awad Sakine, Permanent Representative to the European Union; Hon. Justice Sylvain Oré, President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR); Hon. Soyata Maiga, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR); Hon. Begoto Miarom, Chairperson of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption (AUABC), accompanied by Mr. Pamoussa Zackaria Konsimbo, Special Technical Advisor, Mr. Salah S. Hammad, Human Rights expert from the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) of the African Union Commission (AUC); Dr. Horace Adjolohoun, Principal Legal Officer, African Court; Mr. Philip Bob Jusu, Socio-economic Officer, AU Mission to the EU; and Ms. Anita Bagona, Legal Officer, ACHPR.
The EU delegation was composed of: Ms. Birgitte Markussen, Deputy Managing Director Africa (EEAS); Amb. Mara Marinaki, EEAS Principal Adviser on Gender and on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security; Dr. Myria Vassiliadou, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator (EC); Mr. Jonas Grimheden, Senior Policy Manager, Freedom and Justice department, EU Agency for Fundamental Rights; Ms. Luisa Ragher, Head of Division for Human Rights (EEAS), Ms. Anna Burylo, Deputy Head of Delegation, EU Delegation to the African Union; accompanied by experts working on human rights issues at the African continental scale
- Both sides also reaffirmed their commitment to a more regular technical-level follow-up to the Human Rights Dialogue in Addis Ababa.
- The EU and the AU agreed to hold the next round of the Human Rights Dialogue in Africa in 2019.