The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which aims to provide a framework of cooperation as well as formalize and strengthen ongoing collaboration between the two bodies on a non-exclusive basis, in areas of common interest.
The 11-Article MoU touched on different aspect including purpose; areas of cooperation; consultation, exchange of information and confidentiality; implementation of the MoU; use of name and emblem; privileges and immunities; term, termination, renewal, amendment; notices and addresses; settlement of disputes; miscellaneous; and entry into force.
In general, ACHPR and OHCHR agreed to cooperate on the overall implementation of the ACHPR’s mandate enshrined in article 45 of the African Charter in several areas including exchanging views and good practices on any defined areas of common interest; promoting collaboration in thematic and geographic areas of common interest; supporting joint actions between international human rights bodies and the ACHPR, including its special mechanisms; and considering the expertise of the ACHPR Commissioners in relation to the composition and functioning of commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions set up by United Nations inter-governmental bodies.
They also agreed to jointly engage on human rights related issues, as appropriate, with the African Union Peace and Security Council, and the United Nations Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights Council on country-specific or thematic issues of mutual concern, and thereby contributing to early warning and prevention.
The bodies agreed to hold consultations, exchange information, and cooperate on publication and documents on issues of common interest with a view to encouraging the development of their activities and shall be without prejudice to arrangements, which may be required to safeguard the confidential and restricted character of certain information and documents.
The MoU says the ACHPR and OHCHR shall, at such agreed intervals, convene meetings in particular to identify activities for cooperation, determine the modalities and necessary financial arrangements for cooperation on those activities, exchange views on key issues and emerging challenges and assess implementation of the MOU.
Activities envisaged by the MoU will be implemented subject to the availability of funding and in order to implement the specific activities envisaged by the MoU, the two bodies shall conclude cost-sharing agreements in accordance with their respective regulations, rules and procedures, which shall specify the costs or expenses relating to the activity and how they are to be borne by each of them. Funds so received by either of the bodies have to be used in accordance with its regulations, rules, policies and procedures.
Neither the ACHPR nor the OHCHR is allowed to use the name, emblem or trademarks of the other, or any of its subsidiaries, and/or affiliates, or any abbreviation thereof, without the express prior written approval of the other body in each case. Authorization to use of the name or emblem, or any abbreviation thereof, cannot be granted for commercial purposes, or for use in any other manner that suggests an endorsement by either body of the services of the other body.
The proposed cooperation under the MoU is non-exclusive and will remain in force once the MoU is signed, unless terminated earlier by either party upon giving six months’ notice in writing to the other Party.
And in the event of termination of the MoU, any cost-sharing or project cooperation agreements, and any project documents, concluded pursuant to the MoU, may also be terminated in accordance with the termination provision contained in such agreements. In such case, the parties shall take the necessary steps to ensure that the activities carried out under the MoU, any cost-sharing or project cooperation agreements, and any project documents are brought to a prompt and orderly conclusion. The MoU may be amended only by mutual written agreement of the Parties.
The MoU says disputes between ACHPR and OHCHR arising out of or relating to the MoU shall be settled amicably by the two bodies.
The MoU which became effective on September 16, 2019, was signed by Soyata Maïga, Chairperson African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR).