Strengthening CSOs to effectively engage in the Human Rights Committee review of Zambia in March 2023
Published on 30 Jan 2023, 03:20 PM
Hybrid workshop in Lusaka facilitates consultation to draft a CSO joint report to Human Rights Committee
On 2-3 March 2023, Zambia will be reviewed by the Human Rights Committee during its 137th session (27 February-24 March 2023). It has been more than 15 years since the Human Rights Committee last reviewed the State’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights through its reporting procedure. The review will provide an opportunity to analyze the progress made by the State as well as the challenges that remain in advancing civil and political rights in Zambia.
Hybrid workshop in Lusaka
As part of its ongoing work and partnership with the Zambia Council for Social Development and The Carter Center, during the week of January 16th, 2023, the Centre undertook a mission to Zambia, to coordinate, together with its partners, a two-day CSO workshop in preparation of the Human Rights Committee review of Zambia. The workshop took place in Lusaka but allowed for remote participation from people outside of the capital. It also helped facilitate a consultation for civil society representatives to work on a draft alternative report to be submitted to the Human Rights Committee end of January 2023.
The workshop was attended by over 35 civil society participants, including community-based organizations. The hybrid format allowed for the participation of representatives from eight of the ten provinces in the country, including the Central Province, Copperbelt, Luapula, Lusaka, Northern Province, NorthWestern Province, Southern Province, and Western Province. The workshop was also supported and attended by a representative of the Human Rights Commission, as well as the Office UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia, who were keen to support and accompany civil society in the preparation of the Human Rights Committee review process.
Main issues discussed
During the workshop, civil society representatives exchanged views on civil and political rights concerns and priorities in Zambia, particularly in light of the change of government in 2021. Among the main concerns highlighted were: 1) high levels of corruption; 2) participation in public affairs, especially given the persistently high levels of violence during electoral periods and the challenges of ensuring free and transparent elections; 3) the lack of a policy and independent institutions to promote gender equality; and 4) the impediments to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, as well as the fragile protection of journalists and human rights defenders.
Bearing in mind that in January 2023 Zambia will also be reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the advocacy strategies discussed at the workshop emphasized the importance of making the links between the recommendations made by the different UN human rights mechanisms. Several CSOs participating in the workshop have also been actively engaged in the UPR review process. In particular, the Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD), the Non-governmental Gender Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC), the Carter Center, and Young Women in Action (YWA), have also submitted reports for the UPR review. Further, bearing in mind that the Human Rights Committee is one mechanism among the broader universal human rights system, participants reflected on the importance to complement different human rights mechanisms (at the national, regional & international levels) to advance civil and political rights in Zambia.
Outcome and next steps
A concrete outcome of the workshop and consultation process was the draft of a joint CSO alternative report which was submitted to the Human Rights Committee end of January 2023.
Further, the Centre continues to support & advise national CSOs who wish to engage in the review.
The adoption of recommendations made to Zambia by the Human Rights Committee will also provide an opportunity for the Centre to keep working with CSOs around the follow-up and implementation of the recommendations at the national level. In this regard, the recent establishment of the National Mechanism for Reporting and Follow-up on UN Mechanisms provides an ideal government interlocutor to engage with in these efforts.