Former Nigerian foreign minister Professor Ibrahim Gambari has urged African Union (AU) member states to commit to the universal ratification and domestication of the Maputo Protocol by the end of this year.
He said this must be done if women should form an integral part of all development efforts on the continent.
“The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in collaboration with the African Union, its Commission and human rights mechanisms should support this endeavor,” said Gambari, a former UN Under Secretary General and Special Advisor to the U.N. Secretary General.
Gambari was speaking at a public lecture held in the auditorium of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the he AU’s 2016 theme: “African Year of Human Rights With a Special Focus on the Rights of Women.”
The lecture was part of the African Ambassadors Group in Nigeria observance of the 53rd Africa Day celebration in Abuja on May 25.
The former Foreign Minister spoke of Africa’s need for the AU to utilize its strength as the largest regional grouping in the world, adding, “If you don’t have ambition for yourself, no one else would.”
He added: “First, women rights and empowerment of women should be regarded as inseparable from broader human rights for all peoples. Second, states, civil society and youths and general population in Africa need to be sensitized on human rights issues for a better understanding of international human rights mechanisms.
“Third, increased awareness, promotion and protection of the rights of women should be regarded as non-negotiable. Fourth, there is a need to change the old narrative about Africa in order to catch up with the reality of new and huge opportunities in Africa for investments and partnership for mutual benefits to the Africans and the rest of the world.
“Fifth, as Africans build on the progress made in resolving their political and security crises, and promote socio-economic challenges facing them, they should also strengthen their continental organization and insist on real partnership with the United Nations and a radical reform of the UN Security Council to give them greater representation and stronger voice in the organ that has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”
During the program, the acting Dean of the African Ambassadors Group, the Ambassador of Cameroon, Salaheddine Abbas Ibrahim, spoke of the importance of Africa Day.
Ambassador Ibrahim, in summary, explained the formation in 1963 of the Organization of Africa Union (OAU) and its evolution in 2002 into what is now the African Union (AU).
The High Commissioner of Namibia to Nigeria, Dr. Peingeonjabi T. Shipoh, on behalf of the group, thanked Ambassador Gambari for his lecture.
The Ambassador of Liberia to Nigeria, Professor Al-Hassan Conteh served as the Master of Ceremonies for both afternoon and evening events.
The commemoration of Africa Day focuses on the objective of the AU which is to promote “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”
On May 25, 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the 32 African states that had achieved independence at that time agreed to establish the OAU. A further 21 members joined gradually, reaching a total of 53 by the time of the AU’s creation in 2002.
On 9 July 2011, South Sudan became the 54th AU member.