In a significant step toward achieving equality and justice, the NGO forum of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (Hereafter referred to as ACHPR) has successfully passed a groundbreaking resolution aimed at “Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Communities Discriminated based on Work and Descent (Hereafter referred to as CDWD)” in the continent. This resolution marks a significant milestone in the ongoing struggle to address discrimination based on work and descent and to protect and promote the rights and dignity of CDWD across Africa.
The ACHPR, comprising of representatives from various African nations, NGOs and other stakeholder groups convened in Arusha, Tanzania from 16th-18th of October 2023, to deliberate on this vital issue. After intense discussions, the NGO forum of the Commission unanimously adopted a comprehensive resolution dedicated to combat discrimination against CDWD.
The NGO forum acknowledged that discrimination based on work and descent is widespread across the Africa and that multiple, aggravated, and intersecting forms of discrimination impact women, children and youth, persons with disabilities, and those of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, which makes them more vulnerable to the denial of their human rights in par with others.
In order to tackle discrimination based on work and descent, the NGO Forum of the ACPHR:
- Calls upon States Parties to acknowledge the existence of discrimination based on work and descent as a distinct form of discrimination that deserves the attention of the African community and that affects peoples across Africa;
- Further calls upon States Parties to take all necessary constitutional, legislative, administrative, budgetary, judicial, educational, and social measures to eliminate discrimination based on work and descent in their respective states and respect, protect, promote, restitute, implement and monitor the human rights of those facing this discrimination, including thorough, robust disaggregated data collection in line with data protection and data privacy principles;
- Urges States Parties, in collaboration with the National Human Rights Institutions, civil society organisations and human rights defenders belonging to communities discriminated on work and descent, to combat prejudicial beliefs and practices in all their forms, including notions of untouchability, pollution and caste superiority or inferiority, as well as prevent human rights violations taken on the basis of such beliefs;
- Requests the Africa Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights to initiate a process to realise a continental study on the situation of communities discriminated on work and descent to be shared with the African Union organs and institutions;
- Decides to establish a Working Group on Discrimination Based on Work and Descent, composed of Members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, with the participation of representatives of communities discriminated on work and descent, further study the practices of discrimination based on work and descent in the African region and their impact on the realisation of human rights under the African Charter, with the aim of developing further interventions to prevent discrimination based on work and descent.
The passing of this resolution generates visibility for the various regional communities in Africa oppressed by caste and caste-like structures, encourages the state and other mechanisms to address their issues nationally and regionally, and is a significant step towards a United Nations Declaration recognizing and protecting the rights of CDWD globally. It is a major stride towards a more inclusive and equitable Africa, where all individuals, regardless of their work and descent, can enjoy their human rights and freedoms without the fear of discrimination. It is a testament to the continent's commitment to upholding the principles of human rights and peoples' dignity. The resolution represents hope for a brighter and more inclusive future for CDWD throughout Africa.