OHCHR - West Africa Regional Office (2010-2011)
The OHCHR West Africa Regional Office (WARO) was established in 2008 to help bridge gaps in human rights implementation at the national and regional level. In this regard, the Regional Office was, inter-alia, tasked with increasing the capacity of the human rights components of peace missions and establishing cooperative relations with countries where OHCHR has no presence such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Mali and Nigeria.
The Regional Office today provides support to 8 human rights field presences based in the region, including the human rights components of United Nations peace missions in Côte d’Ivoire (ONUCI), Guinea Bissau (UNIOGBIS), Liberia (UNMIL) and Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL), the OHCHR country offices in Togo and Guinea, the human rights adviser based in Niger and the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA) in Dakar.
The 15 states of the West Africa sub-region, with a population of approximately 250 million people, cover an area of roughly 5 million km². With an average annual population growth rate of 3%, it is forecast that the sub-region’s population will reach 430 million by 2020.
All the countries of the sub-region have adopted multiparty systems, and a certain degree of democratization has been reached by some of them, including Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Mali, Benin. Other countries, like Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Guinea Bissau, witnessed major crisis that endangered stability and democracy.
The high level of poverty and the vulnerability to natural disasters entail enormous difficulties for the achievement of the full realization of economic, social and cultural life within the sub-region. Food crisis, climate change, migration and trafficking in persons are both causes and consequences of the precarious living conditions of the local population.
In particular, the situation of women raises concerns, as they enjoy limited decision-making power and weak autonomy. Despite this, there have been encouraging signs of progress with regards to gender mainstreaming into policy responses to regional threats to peace and security.
On the security front, drug trafficking and transnational criminal activities increasingly affect West Africa. Large sections of the extensive coastline of the Gulf of Guinea are under the throe of drugs, arms and human traffickers, with devastating consequences in terms of human rights.
Overall, West African countries are building and improving accountability mechanisms for security and armed forces, and national courts and commissions are being established to address past human rights abuses. These achievements contribute to the strengthening of the fight against impunity and to the creation of an area of sustainable peace under the rule of law.
The following sub-regional thematic concerns were identified by all the field presences in West Africa:
- Impunity, including in particular as it relates to widespread sexual and gender-based violence in the sub-region;
- Human rights and elections;
- Economic, cultural and social rights, including the human rights implications of poverty, migration, and climate change.
- Human rights in security sector reform (SSR).
The West Africa Regional Office notes the following expected accomplishments which correspond to its work plan for the biennium 2010-2011:
- Measures consistent with international human rights standards will be taken to improve access to justice of women who have been subjected to gender-based violence (GBV), particularly in Senegal and The Gambia;
- Assistance will be provided to those countries that have yet to ratified the; Second Optional Protocol to the ICESCR, in order to facilitate the submission of proposals to the respective Parliaments;
- Cape Verde, the Gambia and Senegal will be assisted in the submission of reports to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in compliance with the relevant reporting guidelines;
- Advocacy, assistance and awareness-raising activities will be held with the purpose of increasing compliance and engagement with the international and regional human rights mechanisms, including the United Nations treaty-body system, the special procedures of the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review;
- Human Rights will be mainstreamed in the formulation of the new UNDAFs for the countries of the sub-region, with particular attention to Burkina Faso and Cape Verde.
Latest News and Upcoming Events
05 May 2011: Sierra Leone will be reviewed by the UPR Working Group
06 October 2011: Togo will be reviewed by the UPR Working Group
10 January 2011: M. Kishore Singh, Rapporteur Spécial des Nations Unies sur le Droit à l’Education effectue une mission d’une semaine au Sénégal à partir du 10 janvier 2011, à l’issue de laquelle il préparera un rapport soumis au Conseil des Droits de l’Homme des Nations Unies. Le rapport examinera la situation du pays en ce qui concerne les questions relevant de la compétence du mandat du Rapporteur Spécial et contient une série de recommandations au Gouvernement, à l'Equipe Pays des Nations Unies et aux Organisations Non Gouvernementales (ONG).
For more information, click here.
31 December 2010: UN human rights experts are deeply concerned that, according to credible sources, enforced or involuntary disappearances, arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and acts of sexual violence may have occurred or may still be occurring in Côte d’Ivoire in relation to the presidential elections. The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances will evaluate these violations to determine whether they may amount to crimes against humanity and, if appropriate, will refer them to the competent authorities.
For more information, click here.
20 December 2010: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed deep concern Sunday about the growing evidence of massive violations of human rights taking place in Côte d'Ivoire since 16 December 2010. She reiterated her determination to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.
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Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division (FOTCD)
Contact in Geneva, Switzerland.
Tel. +41 22 917 92 50
Nouvelle route Bastos
Rue 1705, Numéro 606
Tel.: +237 2221 2474 +23 74 83 03 56 ;
74 83 01 78
+8821 637 220 464 (satellite)
Fax: (237) 221 2475
(Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
New ECA Building
Tel.: (251 11) 544 3105
Fax: (251 11) 551 6078
Regional Office for Southern Africa
UN House, Metropark Building
351 Francis Baard Street
P.O. Box 6541
Tel.: +27 12 354 8686
Fax: +27 12 354 8681
Parcelle n°20, en face de l'hôtel Azur, Route du King Fahd Palace, BP
154, Dakar, Senegal , Tel. : +221 33 869 39 69
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