Following a decade of political instability, two coups d’état, a military regime and an armed rebellion, Niger returned to democracy in 1999. The Government has implemented three peace agreements with Tuareg and Toubou rebels, and has declared its commitment to take effective legislative, administrative and judicial measures to ensure that human rights are respected and protected in the whole territory under its jurisdiction. Niger’s Constitution provides a strong framework for human rights. The legislature has passed laws in recent years to outlaw slavery, protect people from arbitrary detention and advance representation of women in Parliament. A National Commission on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms has been established. Despite these encouraging steps, human rights violations are still rampant, and human rights commitments are impaired by impunity and poor implementation of many laws and international obligations. There are frequent reports of arrests of opposition members, independent journalists, civil society leaders and human rights defenders, and the silencing of critical media outlets.
Improvements in the human rights situation will depend on the concerted efforts of all actors: the Government, civil society and international technical and financial partners. UN agencies are poised to adopt a human rights-based approach in the UNDAF process,which prioritizes poverty alleviation, social services, democratic governance, and sustainable environment. In 2008, a human rights adviser will be deployed in Niger under the “Action 2” programme to strengthen the capacity of the UN Country Team to support the Government’s efforts to strengthen its human rights promotion and protection systems. The Adviser will work with the UN Resident Coordinator and the UN Country Team to develop capacity building for the Government, and will act as a resource to the UN Resident Coordinator and the UN Country Team on mainstreaming human rights in their planning and programming and processes related to humanitarian, recovery and development work. The Adviser will assist the Resident Coordinator and the UN Country Team in encouraging the Government to ratify international human rights treaties, comply with its reporting commitments to international human rights treaty bodies, and follow up the recommendations made by these bodies. The Adviser will also liaise with civil society and the media on issues relating to human rights, and will build their capacity to protect and promote human rights.