UN, CSOs and Government representatives discuss status of human rights in Ghana

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7 August 2017, Accra, Ghana

On 3 August, the UN facilitated a meeting of representatives of human rights CSOs and Government to discuss the status of human rights in Ghana as part of the ongoing Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which tracks the progress of Ghana’s human rights obligations and commitments.

Government was represented by Ministry of Justice’s Solicitor General, Mrs. Helen Ziwu and her team. The UN was represented by Resident Coordinator Christine Evans-Klock and UNICEF, UNFPA, UNHCR, IOM, and UNDP. Jonathan Osei Owusu, Executive Director of POS and Chair of the Ghana Human Rights NGOs Forum, lead the group of a dozen human rights CSOs present.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a mechanism established by the UN to peer-review and examine the human rights records of each Member State every five years.

The purpose of the meeting was to facilitate a discussion between Government and civil society stakeholders. It was an opportunity to exchange views on the human rights issues of most concern to civil society groups, and listen to the Government’s evidence on the progress Ghana is making in responding to the recommendations from the 2012 review on a series of human rights challenges.

Ghana’s human rights record was reviewed at the Human Rights Council’s UPR in 2012 and 2008. In reaction to the 2012 report, Ghana received 150 recommendations from 63 States. Out of these recommendations the majority was accepted, and 25 rejected. Earlier this year, the CSOs submitted their report on the fulfilment of Ghana’s human rights obligations and commitments to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. This process ensures that the voices of civil society are heard, and that no one is left behind. Government is currently finalising its report for submission to the UN Human Rights Council.

Issues addressed during the meeting included: children’s rights; women’s rights; LGBTI rights (right to protection, anti-discrimination); human trafficking; torture and abuse of power by authorities; access to justice for all; disability inclusion; mental health care; female genital mutilation (FGM); early marriage; non-discrimination on the basis of HIV/AIDS status; death penalty; and refugees’ rights.

The importance of taking a human rights approach in the national achievement of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 was underlined in the meeting. “Ghana’s commitment to the SDGs is an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to human rights,” said UN Resident Coordinator Christine Evans-Klock.

Going forward, the Solicitor-General, the Chair of the NGO Forum, and the UN Resident Coordinator agreed that partnerships will be very important in following up the review by the Human Rights Council in November. The NGOs underlined their commitment to this process in order to ensure that no one is left behind.

The UN is keen to support the country’s continued achievements in recognising and protecting human rights. Human rights will be an overarching priority in the UN Sustainable Development Partnership (2018-22) which is currently being developed, and is to be agreed upon with Government later this year.

“We are looking for opportunities for how the UN can support Government in reporting on its Human Rights commitments, can facilitate dialogue, and raise awareness of the human rights recommendations. The UN as a whole is here to help integrate a human rights-based approach into Ghana’s commitment to Agenda 2030, while individual agencies take forward specific human rights issues of particular vulnerable groups within their mandates,” said Ms Evans-Klock.

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