Liberia Holds 2nd ECOWAS Human Rights Day Tomorrow

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Bartholomew B. Colley.

-President Sirleaf delivers Keynote address

Liberia will on January 16 and 17 host the 2nd official celebration of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Human Rights Day.

The day will also be celebrated across the West African sub-region under the international theme: “Right to Education.” The national theme is: “Right to Education, a must for all Liberians.”

The Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), the statutory human rights body in Liberia, will in collaboration with the ECOWAS office in Liberia lead the celebrations at the Bella Casa Hotel beginning 9:00 a.m.

During the celebration, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will deliver the keynote address, which will be her last official address as a sitting President before the sub-regional body.

Madam Sirleaf’s keynote address will be preceded by remarks from her successor, President-elect George M. Weah.

Also making remarks will be Cllr. Fredrick Cherue, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Liberia; George Werner, Minister of Education; the President of the Network of National Human Rights Institutions in West Africa; the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Atty. Bartholomew B. Colley; the Acting Chairperson of the INCHR, among others.

The ECOWAS Human Rights Day, proclaimed on December 16, 2016 during the 50th Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments, aims to promote human rights and inclusive governance mainly with regard to women and the youth.

The setting aside of January 16 of every year as the ECOWAS Human Rights Day is in commemoration of the day Africa’s first democratically elected female President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was inaugurated.

Following the opening ceremony, according to the official protocol, there will be several panel discussions featuring national and international human rights, peace and education activists. Some of the panelists include: Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe and Samuel Kofi Woods of Liberia and Presidents of the National Human Rights Commission of Togo and Guinea among others.

According to a dispatch from the INCHR, the celebration continues on January 17 with extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee of the Network of National Human Rights Institutions in West Africa, Annual General Meeting of the Network of Civil Society Organizations Human Rights Monitors and the launch of the ECOWAS Human Rights Indicators.

It is expected that the celebration will serve to strengthen the ECOWAS Human Rights Architecture with specific action plans on the rights to education; deepen and strengthen the knowledge of ECOWAS Education Policy; stimulate political will; identify policy options for duty bearers; map methods and approaches of improving the enjoyment of the right to education; and develop effective modalities and frameworks to address the concern of out-of-school children across the region.

The INCHR has expressed satisfaction with this development and is commending ECOWAS for setting aside a day to commemorate human rights in honor of President Sirleaf, Liberia and Africa’s first democratically elected female President.

The commission is describing the move as a milestone that sets in motion the basis for making human rights a relevant public discourse.

The INCHR, however, says that the celebration is not sufficient as a condition that will guarantee the promotion and protection of human rights in ECOWAS member states and thus calls on both state and non-state actors to double their respective and collective efforts aimed at the promotion and protection of human rights by making duty bearers more responsible and accountable, and rights holders civilly agitating and restless.

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