VIJAY NARAIDOO
Lead person for the Rights of Older Persons of DIS-MOI

The African Union Commission hosted a Validation and Advocacy Workshop on 27 and 28 July open to all African Union Member States for the signing and ratification of the African Protocols on Ageing and Disabilities, implementation of the AU Social Agenda 2063, AU Disability Strategic Framework and Validation of the Draft Policy Framework and Plan of Action on Ageing (AUPFPA). Vijay Naraidoo, Lead Person of the Commission for the Rights of Older People, represented DIS-MOI.

Protocols
Experts from AU member States (Ministries of Social Development), African Union Commission, Members of Working Group on Older Persons and Persons with Disabilities in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and NGOs validated the Draft AUPFPA. Further, the programme comprised, inter alia, an overview of Best Practices in view of the popularization of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa. Our readers would recall the campaign spearheaded by DIS-MOI since the adoption by Head of States of the AU in January 2016 creating awareness on the subject while at the same time requesting our government to proceed with the signature and ratification of the AU Protocol. This we have been doing through multi-stakeholders’ meetings, in workshops and conferences around the Republic, Mauritius, Rodrigues and Agalega. Furthermore, we have been intervening extensively in written and spoken media. Also, we expressed the views of DIS-MOI at the meetings of the National Mechanism for Reporting and Follow-up on human rights issues.

With regards to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities DIS-MOI has equally been in the forefront. DIS-MOI is affiliated with Voices of Disabled International of which Jean-Francois Favory, Lead person of the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, is the President of the Mauritius Branch. The Protocol was adopted by the Thirtieth Ordinary Session Assembly of the AU in January 2018. Mauritius is, at date, among non-signatory countries.

The prevalence of disabilities on the Continent and the commitment of AU Member States have made in the area of disability has brought about the development of the AU Disability Protocol. “The Protocol is necessitated by the fact that by and large African human rights instruments do not reach the minimum standards established by the UNCRPD (Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities). The Protocol would provide an opportunity to tailor significant provisions which are applicable to Africa.’’ We in DIS-MOI hereby appeal to Government to give favourable consideration to this Protocol.

Aim of the Workshop

The primary aim of the workshop was to enable all AU Member States to better understand these two legal instruments and promote their ratification and subsequent implementation. Hence our appeal to Government.

Specific objectives of the Workshop

In view of the above AU Member States are encouraged to sign and ratify both above named Protocols. Member States were called upon to validate the revised Draft Policy on Ageing, as well as the domestication and implementation of the AU Social Agenda 2063 and the AU Disability Framework. It stands to reason that participants would be more aware of this policy instrument and of their potential to promote an inclusive socio-economic development in our respective communities. We were also introduced to the AU Protocol on Social Protection and Social Security which is scheduled to be adopted hopefully this year. Also presented was the AU Plan of Action on Albinism.

In conclusion: Take Away Messages

1.The Signing and Ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa;
2.The Signing and Ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa;
3.The domestication and implementation of the AU Social Agenda 2063;
4.The domestication and implementation of the AU Disability Strategic Framework;
5.Validation of the revised Policy on Ageing.