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NGO Forum
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 10:05


The Forum on the participation of NGOs in the sessions of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), also called the NGO Forum, takes place twice a year just before the biannual sessions of the ACHPR. The Forum is a platform for discussion for NGOs who, while preparing for the session of the ACHPR, have the possibility to share information, meet the High Commissioners, and adopt resolutions on questions that will be examined by the ACHPR. These resolutions are then submitted to the ACHPR, who can use them as inspiration for the adoption of its own resolutions.


The NGO Forum constitutes a major opportunity for NGOs to share their advocacy work, and speak in one voice with the aim of influencing the work of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR \ African Commission). The Forum is facilitated by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS or African Centre) that acts as secretariat of the Forum and coordinator of the event.


The Forum has the following objectives, to:

  • Improve NGO access to the African Commission;
  • Foster closer collaboration and co-operation between NGOs and the African Commission;
  • Provide a platform for organisations working on democracy and human rights to meet and discuss issues of common interest, and to share information, experience and good practices;
  • Build capacity and provide networking opportunities in the region; and
  • Contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa.

The analytical reports published by ISHR showcase the discussions that take place at the NGO Forum and its contribution to the work of the ACHPR. The following publications on the activities of the Forum are also available:

 Experiences at the NGO Forum:


Each year, ISHR facilitates the attendance of human rights defenders at the NGO Forum and African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR). What do they get out of the experience? ISHR speaks to one such defender to find out.

Pacifique Nininahazwe is the director of FORSC (Forum pour le renforcement de la société civile), a platform for 146 organisations that are part of Burundi’s civil society. FORSC works to enable discussions between the different organisations that make up Burundi’s civil society, such as human rights leagues, women’s rights organisations, youth organisations, confederations, unions and journalists’ associations.


In 2011, with financial support provided by ISHR, Mr Nininahazwe attended the 49th session of the NGO Forum and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (April and May).


‘The idea to attend a meeting of the African Commission first came to me when I attended an ISHR training in Geneva on the international human rights system,’ he says. ‘While the training also covered some information about regional human rights systems, I was keen to learn about these in more detail – particularly about the African Commission.’


‘Attending sessions at the African Commission seemed like a good opportunity to give regional visibility to the struggles faced by Burundi’s civil society. I wanted to share at the NGO Forum about what we do, to give voice to our concerns, and have these passed on to the African Commission.’


In 2010, Mr Nininahazwe had already had the opportunity to attend the 48th session of the African Commission, and he spent this time observing how the system operated.


‘Observing at the first session was excellent, because it helped me realise that the human rights situation in Burundi had no visibility at a regional level. I was especially concerned that no one knew about the murder of activist Ernest Manirumva, who was killed in 2009.’


During the visit to the African Commission in April and May, Mr Nininahazwe was able to play a more active role.


‘I said to myself, now I’m going there to do everything I can so that others will know about what is really taking place in Burundi, so that African civil society will be supportive of Burundi’s civil society. I think I succeeded.  I advocated, I took part in the activities of the Forum…I had the support of International Service for Human Rights and was also supported by the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network.


‘We talked a lot about Ernest Manirumva during the NGO Forum. This included organising side events on the campaign “Justice for Ernest Manirumva”. We also talked a lot about Jean-Claude Kayumbagu, a journalist from Burundi who was in prison, and in general about the situation of human rights defenders in Burundi.


‘I think that I achieved what I set out to do. In the end, the NGO Forum came out with a […] proposal for a resolution on Burundi.’


While at the African Commission, Mr Nininahazwe discovered a number of mechanisms he would be able to use in his efforts to improve the human rights situation in his country.


For example, although Burundi has not signed a clause to permit NGOs or individuals to take cases to the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, Mr Nininahazwe was informed by another NGO that it was possible to do so by going through the African Commission. He was also able to establish useful contacts, especially with the African Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders.


‘I would strongly recommend other NGOs attend the NGO Forum and the African Commission. Doing so has proven extremely useful for my organisation’s human rights work. I have now made it a part of my job to encourage other organisations to engage with regional and international mechanisms.’

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2011 13:16
© by The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 2019