Pretoria – The African Union (AU) Executive Council has emphasised the importance of upholding human rights, especially women’s rights, for a prosperous and peaceful Africa under the Agenda 2063 framework.
This came at the opening of the 28th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council on Wednesday at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa under the theme “2016: African Year of Human Rights with a Particular Focus on the Rights of Women”.
The opening ceremony was attended by a high level gathering that included the Chairperson of the AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Carlos Lopez, AU Ministers of Foreign Affairs, AU Commissioners, officials and invited guests.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Dlamini Zuma reiterated aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063, which states the African Union position of achieving “an Africa whose development is people driven, relying on the potential of the African people especially its women, youth and caring for children”.
Dlamini Zuma said Agenda 2063 is not only a programme of the AU, it seeks to serve African people from all walks of life.
In relation to this year’s theme of human rights, with particular focus on the rights of women, Dlamini Zuma said since the launch of the first African Gender Scorecard, countries have taken steps to do better and that in 2016, the gender score card would focus on indicators related to human rights.
Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Minister and Chair of the Executive Council, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, used his address to call for continued commitment towards the fulfilment of the African Vision.
He said the issue of terrorism, which has caused loss of life and property destruction, has negatively affected the socio-economic development of some parts of the continent hence the need to unite against all forms of terrorism.
The United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Carlos Lopez, underscored the need for structural transformation to boost Africa’s economic advancement.
He called on member states to prioritise putting an end to armed conflicts.
The Executive Council meeting is the second of three statutory meetings to be held under the ongoing 26th summit of the African Union from 21 – 31 January.
The first meeting was that of the Permanent Representatives Committee, which was held from 21 – 23 January. The final meeting of the summit will be that of the Heads of State and Government to take place from Saturday and Sunday.
For two days, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs/External Relations and other ministers will convene in a closed session to deliberate on the different items on their agenda, including the consideration of the report of the Permanent Representatives Committee.
The Executive Council will prepare the agenda of the Heads of State with appropriate recommendations for consideration by the Assembly. The meeting of the Executive Council will officially end today.