Human Rights, Governance and Rule of Law

Human Rights Training organized. Photo: UNOWA

UNOWA has been requested to:

… (c)   Promote good governance and respect for the rule of law, human rights, and gender mainstreaming in West Africa, through advocacy and advisory initiatives in close collaboration with ECOWAS, the  MRU and sub-regional networks of the civil society actors and in collaboration with national and sub-regional stakeholders.

UNOWA’s engagement strategy is situated in the context of implementing Secretary-General’s Rights Up Front initiative in West Africa; and supporting implementation of relevant normative frameworks adopted by the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and the Mano River Union.  Within the framework of these instruments, UNOWA worked with these institutions in five main directions:

  1. Combatting impunity following violation of human rights as a predicament for sustainable peace and stability in the region, through the joint organization of a high level conference on Impunity, Justice and Human Rights in Bamako (Mali in November 2011) followed by a series of regional seminars for media professionals and civil society organisations.
  2. Promoting free and fair elections as a fundamental rights; through the joint organization of a high level conference on Elections and Stability in West Africa in Praia (Cabo Verde, 2010)
  3. Engaging citizens and civil society organization as a means of promoting ownership, popular participation on issues ranging from violence-free elections, respect for fundamental rights, including the management of natural resources, addressing youth unemployment etc….. Sessions of the African (Union) Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights have served as prime avenue for such capacity building and information sharing activities with civil society organisations.
  4. Producing thematic issue papers and policy briefs on civil and political rights (role of security forces in elections, tools for human rights analysis during electoral processes) as well as socio-economic and cultural rights (youth unemployment, climate change, management of natural resources).
  5. Consultations with networks of civil society organisations in West Africa; at senior and desk-to-desk levels with ECOWAS Commission and the MRU Secretariat on human rights, governance and rule of law.
  6. Mainstream human rights in the response to regional challenges to peace and stability including election-triggered violence, attempt of constitutional amendment prior to elections, dealing with the Ebola Virus Disease especially in the Mano River basin and the Boko Haram-related insecurity in Lake Chad basin.


Recent activities:


In implementing the UN Secretary-General Rights up Front initiative in West Africa UNOWA convened a series of webminars with stakeholders, including national human rights institutions on 23 April and civil society networks on 28 May 2014 in the context of the Participants reviewed the sociopolitical situation in the sub region and stressed the role of civil society in the promotion of respect for the rule of law and human rights during upcoming elections in the sub region.


UNOWA, the African Center for Development and Human Rights Studies  and the academia analyse socio-political trends ahead of 2015 :

Conference on the transnational challenges to peace, security and development in West Africa: resistance to constitutional amendments, le spread of the Ebola virus disease and the threat of terrorism on human rights, peace and security.

At the dawn of 2015, an election year and time to achieve the MDGs, the security and stability in West Africa remain a matter of concern.  It is this context that UNOWA and its civil society partners, in particular the Banjul based African Center for Development and Human Rights Studies, convened a sub-regional conference from 1, to 3 December 2014, in Saly on the transnational challenges to peace, security and development in West Africa: resistance to constitutional amendments, le spread of the Ebola virus disease and the threat of terrorism on human rights, peace and security. The conference brought together thirty academics and experts on human rights issues, peace, security, and other cross-cutting themes, from West African countries and culminated into a series of recommendations.


UNOWA and the Gorée Institutes cooperate towards building the capacity of law enforcement agencies to uphold human rights and governance principles.

UNOWA and the Gorée Institute convened an expert workshop from 11 to 13 December 2014 to review and validate the mapping of training curricula in Human Rights and Gender offered to Defense and Security Forces in West Africa commissioned in 2013 and 2014 by UNOWA. The workshop brought together twenty security and defense experts as well as representatives of civil society organization and UN entities. The final version of the study will serve as an advocacy tool among ECOWAS member States.



As part of the mandate of UNOWA, endeavors to regularly interact through ‘l’abre-à-palabre’ a platform for open and information discussions, with a wide range of civil society actors, research centers and development partners on topical issues West Africa. The first edition for 2015 was held on 23 January 2015 and brought together thirty senior experts from the civil society, research centers and the United Nations. The central theme was ‘Human rights, governance and the rule of law and the challenges to peace, stability and development in West Africa’. At the close of this edition, participants resolved to work together on core issues ranging from election, terrorism, maritime piracy, impunity, sexual and gender based violence. They shared their respective priority action through a single matrix aimed at promoting collaboration and complementarity.