Africa: Cotonou Declaration on strengthening and expanding the protection of all Human Rights Defenders

On the 1st of April 2017, representatives of civil society organizations, National Human Rights Institutions and governments of Africa signed the Cotonou Declaration during the second International Symposium on Human Rights Defenders in Africa in Johannesburg.

The Declaration underlines the importance of human rights defenders (HRDs or defenders), the work of regional mechanisms for defenders and the frequent violations of defenders’ rights. It then lists the most recurring challenges of defenders in Africa, such as the use of terrorist legislation against defenders and restricted rights to financing.

Finally, the declaration lists key recommendations for state actors, the African Union and other (sub-)regional mechanisms, National Human Rights Institutions, civil society organisations, UN actors and bodies and social leaders.

Although this declaration addresses key issues in the protection of human rights defenders in Africa, its implementation is unclear and its force is non-binding.

Find the original declaration here in English and French (African Commission on Human and People’s Rights).