NHRC Set Agenda For New Ministers On Mainstreaming Human Rights Into Government Operations

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The National Human Rights Commission has laid down an actionable methodology to help the newly appointed ministers and the entire arm of Government align their operations towards promoting, respecting and protecting the rights of citizens. This was revealed in a press statement by the Commission’s Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu Esq. during a press conference held at the Maitama, Abuja office.

Mr. Ojukwu noted that the overall goal of the Agenda is to build a nation with a culture of respect for human rights. He also highlighted that one of the standards for measuring a developed society is the quantum of respect for human rights in the conduct of national affairs.

Furthermore, Mr. Ojukwu in justifying the agenda stated that; the legitimacy of the government in a democratic setting depends on its ability to protect the people, respect their rights and promote the same.

Read the full statement below:

1. Introduction:

One of the standards for measuring a developed society is the quantum of respect for human rights in the conduct of national affairs. Tell me how a people respect and protect the human rights of their people and others and I can tell you their level of development, it is said.

Both under the 1999 constitution of the FRN and international human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a party, the primary duty of government is to protect, promote and respect human rights. The security and welfare of the people shall also be the primary purpose of government. Both are mutually reinforcing because you cannot provide welfare and security for the people without promoting, respecting and protecting their rights.

Related: Constitution Should Be Amended To Allow Ex-convicts Hold Public Offices – Human Rights Boss

2. Justification:

The legitimacy of the government in a democratic setting depends on its ability to protect the people, respect their rights and promote same. With that disposition, the government provides for the peoples security and ensure their welfare (the social contract) as a high way towards government achievement of the Sustainable development goals. Therefore every organ of government must work towards, and align all their operations towards promoting, respecting and protecting the rights of citizens, leading to providing security and welfare for the people and thereby achieving the sustainable development goals of government.

3. Methodology

Mainstreaming human rights into government operations can be achieved by ensuring the following

a. Operationalization of concept through:

i. Participation and involvement of the people in the formulation and implementation of government programs, policies and activities.

ii. Accountability in implementing government programs, policies and activities (openness, transparency inclusive)

iii. Ensuring that people benefit in the implementation (needs that affect daily lives of people)

iv. Ensuring gender equality and inclusive implementation of government policies, programs and activities.

v. Non-discrimination in the implementation of government policies and programs

b. Whole of a Government Approach: in implementing the National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (NAP) in Nigeria. Another way of mainstreaming human rights into government operations in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is through policy intervention which has been encapsulated into a policy document called the National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Nigeria (NAP).

NAP is a bold, remarkable and integrated National strategy which identified the role to be played by all Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) in the promotion, protection and realization of human rights. The document has identified obligations of MDAs and suggest targets and timelines for their realization. All MDAs need to carefully study the NAP document and adopt it as a guide in service delivery. It is pursuant to Resolution 48/121 of the United Nations after the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights on June 25, 1993, enjoining all nations to develop NAP relative to their environment for the realization of human rights.

This strategy will involve a sensitization of staff and leadership of MDAs on NAP by the NHRC, NOA, MOJ, MFA and other relevant stakeholders. MDAs will appoint their own NAP program officers from their staff whose capacity will be built to help them in mainstreaming the implementation of NAP in their daily operations. The role of capacity building in this regard cannot be over emphasized.

4. Objectives:

The objective of the agenda is mainstreaming human rights into government operations as follows:

a) To reinforce the legitimacy of government through human rights approach to governance.

b) To emphasize accountability, participation, non-discrimination and gender considerations in government affairs.

c) To provide the enabling climate for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

d) To reduce insecurity and promote the welfare of the people through government programs and activities.

e) To promote good governance in Nigeria.

f) To fulfil Nigeria’s International Human Rights Obligations and attract foreign direct investments (FDIs)

g) To ensure zero tolerance to extra-judicial killings, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment in law enforcement.

5. Expected Outcomes.

When human rights is mainstreamed into government operations, the following are the expected outcomes of the agenda:

a) The government will be seen by the people as a people’s centered government based on which its legitimacy and continued exercise of authority will devolve.

b) The Sustainable Development Goals will be achieved to the credit of the government of the day. Good governance is the result.

c) Insecurity will be highly reduced and the high cost of governance in the security sector will be reduced and funds will be available for channeling to other areas of need in national development.

d) The fight against corruption will be strengthened and made sustainable through the culture of accountability embedded in the human rights based approach.

e) The provision of a peaceful, just and fair environment for peaceful development of the country.

f) Increased foreign direct investments in Nigeria.

g) Improved respect for human rights in law enforcement by law enforcement agencies.

6. Role Players to Ensure Success of the Agenda:

i. The Federal Executive Council

ii. The State Executive Councils

iii. The Local Government Executive Councils

iv. All government officials

v. National Assembly

vi. Judiciary

vii. Media

viii. Civil Society Organizations

7. Cost of Mainstreaming Human Rights into Government Operations.

There is no additional cost as such on government. The things required are:

a. To emphasize and create the consciousness amongst key operators of government like we have here today to ensure that they are guided by a human rights impact analysis of their policies, activities and programs.

b. NHRC and NOA etc to build the capacity of MDAs and to identify and integrate human rights principles of accountability, openness and transparency, Participation, Nondiscrimination and gender equality into their operations.

c. To create awareness on NAP so that every MDA understands and plays their role in the implementation of the Plan.

d. And most important of all:-

The expressed political will of the leadership, at all levels (federal, state and local governments) to:

i. Integrate human rights as part of national priorities

ii. Ensure human rights is a major instrument to achieve governmental objectives,

iii. Be receptive to human rights considerations in national life, through statements, actions, budgeting and implementation of policies and programs.

8. Conclusion

Conscious mainstreaming of human rights into government operations is a key sustainable way to ensure retaining the trust of the people by the government through achieving good governance and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The incoming cabinet is the major instrument of government to achieve every objective of this agenda.

Thank you for listening and I wish the incoming cabinet a very successful tenure in office.

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