Human Rights Council Adopts Universal Periodic Review Outcomes of Benin, Pakistan and Zambia

Human Rights Council Adopts Universal Periodic Review Outcomes of Benin, Pakistan and Zambia

GENEVA, Switzerland, March 20, 2018/ — The Human Rights Council this morning (March 19, 2018) adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Benin, Pakistan and Zambia.

Eloi Laourou, Permanent Representative of Benin to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Benin was doing all it could to implement the recommendations, including the abolition of the death penalty, ratification of international human rights instruments and treaties, modernizing the prison administration and good governance. Efforts toward meeting the 2030 Agenda objectives continued, particularly in the areas of education, access to water and energy, and food safety. The country needed capacity building to assist victims of trafficking, set up a human rights database, and conduct education in human rights areas.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers commended Benin for its strategies aimed at the promulgation of human rights in recent years, notably the adoption of an act on the rights of persons with disabilities, and of the draft Criminal Code which would more effectively tackle child labour. They reminded that Benin faced a lack of resources for implementing previous Universal Periodic Review recommendations. Harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and the so-called “witch children” continued to be prevalent and go unpunished. The country needed to strengthen capacities to combat violence against women and girls, and children.

Speaking were Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, United Nations Population Fund, Venezuela, Algeria, Angola, Burundi, China, Republic of the Congo and Cuba.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: World Organisation Against Torture, (in a joint statement with Franciscans International and International Catholic Child Bureau); International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development VIDES, (in a joint statement with Franciscans International; Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco and International Catholic Child Bureau), Action Canada for Population and Development, Franciscans International, (in a joint statement with International Catholic Child Bureau), Amnesty International, Rencontre Africaine pour la defénse des droits de l’homme, and International Catholic Child Bureau, (in a joint statement with International Movement of Apostolate in the Independent Social Milieus).

The President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 198 recommendations received, Benin accepted 191 and noted seven. The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Benin.

Farukh Amil, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, acknowledged the importance of the Universal Periodic Review for its transparency and the level playing field it offered to all States. The Council had to continue to support and strengthen that mechanism, in line with its agreed rules and procedures. Democracy, the rule of law, and protecting human rights were cherished ideals for the people of Pakistan. The democratic Pakistan of today was marching toward these ideals with an elected and sovereign parliament, an independent judiciary, a free media, and a vibrant civil society.

In the discussion, speakers commended the commitment of Pakistan to promote and protect human rights, albeit constant threats to the country’s security and social fabric. They noted the establishment of the Ministry of Human Rights, provincial human rights departments, human rights committees at the district levels, and the launch of the national Action Plan for Human Rights. However, speakers remained concerned about the use of the death penalty, reports of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, intimidation of journalists, and limitations on freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Speaking were Ghana, Greece, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Philippines, China, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, and the United Nations Population Fund.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: British Humanist Association, European Centre for Law and Justice, Article 19, Action Canada for Population and Development (in a joint statement with the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women ARROW), International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Amnesty International, International Commission of Jurists, and World Environment and Resources Council.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 289 recommendations received, Pakistan accepted 168 and noted 121. The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Pakistan.

Margaret Mary Lungu Kaemba, Deputy Permanent Representative of Zambia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stated that the Universal Periodic Review was a platform which provided an opportunity for all Member States to declare what actions they had taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. With respect to abolition of the death penalty, the Constitution required that such amendments be subjected to a referendum. Despite having retained the death penalty in its statute books, Zambia was a de facto abolitionist country as the last executions had been carried out in 1997.

The Human Rights Commission of Zambia also spoke.

In the discussion, speakers recommended that Zambia expedite the process of the enactment of the Children’s Act, and requested the Government to finalize and present the Child Code Bill in Parliament in order to harmonize various pieces of legislation. They also asked Zambia to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12 years, and to combat child poverty. While Zambia had committed to curbing the high rates of maternal mortality, its acceptance of the recommendation to limit abortion was in contravention with its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Maputo Protocol.

Speaking were Algeria, Angola, Burundi, China, Republic of the Congo, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, and Madagascar.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: International Save the Children Alliance, Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, Action Canada for Population and Development, Franciscans International, Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, Amnesty International, CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 203 recommendations received, Zambia accepted 183, partially accepted one recommendation, and noted 19. The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Zambia.

 

The Council will next consider the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Japan, Ukraine and Sri Lanka.

 

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Benin

ELOI LAOUROU, Permanent Representative of Benin to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Benin remained committed to the promotion of human rights and the creation of an environment where human rights would be respected. The Ministry of Justice in particular underscored both the achievements and difficulties conducted during the previous period. During the interactive dialogue, 198 recommendations were made, out of which 191 were accepted and seven were noted. Since then, Benin had been doing all it could to implement the recommendations, including the abolition of the death penalty, the ratification of international human rights instruments and treaties, modernizing the prison administration, and ensuring good governance. The Council of Ministers had adopted a decree that changed the death penalty for 14 prisoners to life imprisonment, thus making Benin an abolitionist country. The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances had been ratified. The process for setting up a prison agency was underway. Initiatives to combat corruption were progressing. Efforts towards meeting the 2030 Agenda objectives continued, particularly in areas of education, access to water and energy, and food safety. The Council’s members were thanked for their support and the High Commissioner and partners were asked to provide technical and financial support to assist in implementing actions and programmes. Activities included devising a national human rights action plan, and supporting prison system reforms, including the building of prisons. Capacity building was needed for victims of trafficking, setting up a human rights database, and conducting education in human rights areas.

Sierra Leone commended Benin for its strategies aimed at the promulgation of human rights in recent years, notably the adoption of an act on the rights of persons with disabilities, and the draft Criminal Code which would more effectively tackle child labour.

South Africa welcomed Benin’s continued work on the protection of children’s rights, especially the adoption of a Children’s Code in 2015 that would raise the status of children and afford them protection in all areas. South Africa also took positive note of Benin’s adoption of the Information and Communication Code.

Sudan commended the commitment of Benin to the Universal Periodic Review and its positive response to the recommendations, especially with respect to continued efforts to raise awareness on birth registration.

Togo took positive note of Benin’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the adoption of a national policy for child protection. Togo also welcomed the will of the authorities to adopt almost all of the received recommendations.

Tunisia noted that Benin’s acceptance of the majority of the recommendations showed its commitment to strengthen human rights. Tunisia welcomed the creation of an independent human rights commission.

United Nations Population Fund said Benin faced a lack of resources for implementing previous Universal Periodic Review recommendations. Harmful practices such as female genital mutilation continued to be prevalent and go unpunished. The Fund would help strengthen capacities to combat violence against women and girls.

Venezuela noted that Benin had openly cooperated with the Universal Periodic Review and engaged in productive dialogue. Benin had accepted the overwhelming majority of recommendations received and the Human Rights Council must recognize the State’s efforts to promote and protect human rights.

Algeria hailed efforts in Benin to strengthen its national legal framework and create national human rights institutes to help protect women and combat corruption.

Angola welcomed Benin’s efforts to promote and protect human rights, particularly its close relationship with international human rights mechanisms. Angola noted that Benin was implementing supplementary measures to combat child labour.

Burundi thanked Benin for accepting the majority of recommendations received. Benin was taking positive measures to combat corruption and improve the protection of children. Benin worked positively with international human rights mechanisms and was implementing projects to protect women and girls.

China appreciated the constructive engagement of the Government of Benin in the dialogue and thanked it for accepting China’s recommendations. It appreciated ongoing efforts in Benin to promote health and medical care as well as food security.

Republic of Congo wished a warm welcome to Benin, and commended its acceptance of almost all the recommendations made to it. In particular, it thanked Benin for accepting the Congolese recommendations for development plans in order to improve the living conditions of the population.

Cuba said 191 of 198 recommendations had been accepted by Benin and this was commendable. Among the accepted recommendations, two were made by Cuba, including on human rights training and the improvement of the living conditions of the population.

World Organisation Against Torture, in a joint statement with Franciscans International and International Catholic Child Bureau, saluted the engagement of Benin, and noted that of the 199 recommendations, seven had been noted, including that by Honduras on preventing the deaths of so-called “witch children.” At the same time, recommendations by the Republic Korea and Switzerland on the same issue had been accepted.

International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development VIDES, in a joint statement with Franciscans International; Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco and International Catholic Child Bureau, commended the acceptance of the recommendation concerning the adoption of the application of the Children’s Code and a new Penal Code. It called upon the Government to proceed to implement these recommendations in the briefest delays.

Action Canada for Population and Development said article 36 of the Constitution of Benin guaranteed the right to respect and non-discrimination, but high levels of violence and discrimination were prevalent. This was a consequence of the fact that the patriarchal society was not confronted nor addressed.

Franciscans International, in a joint statement with International Catholic Child Bureau, deplored the fact that Benin had only taken note of the recommendation concerning measures to prevent infanticide of the so-called witch children. The organization called on the Government to accelerate the adoption of the draft Criminal Code with respect to that issue.

Amnesty International welcomed the imminent establishment of a human rights commission in Benin, and commended the Government’s decision to commute the death sentence for 14 men. However, it called on Benin to guarantee the freedom of expression, and cease arbitrary arrests and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.

Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme voiced concern about shrinking space for civil society, threats against the effective exercise of the right to strike, prison overcrowding, systematic use of detention, the absence of information about economic rights, and crimes against the so-called “witch children” in Benin.

International Catholic Child Bureau, in a joint statement with International Movement of Apostolate in the Independent Social Milieus, drew attention to the problem of murder of the so-called “witch children” in Benin, calling on the Government to take concrete measures and without delay to implement the 2015 Code of Children. It also called on the Government to take stock of the previously implemented recommendations.

The President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 198 recommendations received, Benin supported 191 and noted 7.

ELOI LAOUROU, Permanent Representative of Benin to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said such dialogues helped States move forward as they pursued policies to promote and protect human rights. The number of supported recommendations showed the Government’s commitment to issues of human rights and governance. Some recommendations were only noted as Benin assessed certain institutional activities. Still, Benin would work to integrate reform efforts in order to address those recommendations. The State did not have the information at its disposal to properly address issues arising from children being accused of witchcraft. The Government was working with religious institutions, local authorities, and women’s organizations to raise awareness of such abuses against children. The Government continued to implement major educational reform programmes and relied on support from the international community to achieve its goals.

The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Benin.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan

FARUKH AMIL, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Pakistan acknowledged the importance of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism for its transparency and the level playing field it offered to all States. The mechanism positively contributed toward improving human rights on the ground. The Council must continue to support and strengthen this mechanism, in line with its agreed rules and procedures. The people of Pakistan were committed to democratic ideals. Pakistan was a country born out of a democratic choice exercised in 1946 by 250 million Muslims of the Indo-Pak Subcontinent. Democracy, rule of law, and protecting human rights were cherished ideals for the people. The democratic Pakistan of today was marching toward these ideals with an elected and sovereign parliament, an independent judiciary, a free media, and a vibrant civil society. The strength of these institutions had gone a long way in promoting civil liberties, and ensuring fundamental freedoms. They had also helped in steady mainstreaming of human rights in overall policy priorities and national discourse. Out of 289 recommendations, 168 recommendations enjoyed the support of the Government and most were being implemented. Some 117 recommendations had been noted. These had not been rejected, but the due process of consultations had not been completed yet. The remaining four had been rejected for being factually incorrect and politically motivated.

Ghana commended the commitment of Pakistan to promote and protect human rights, albeit constant threats to the country’s security and social fabric. It noted the establishment of the Ministry of Human Rights, provincial human rights departments, human rights committees at the district levels, and the launch of the national Action Plan for Human Rights.

Greece remained concerned about the use of the death penalty and it urged Pakistan to reinstate a moratorium on its use as the first step towards its abolition. Greece also reiterated concern about the reports of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, intimidation of journalists, and limitations on freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Honduras expressed hope that Pakistan would consider the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in order to guarantee gender equality, as well as to consider the ratification of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrants and Their Families.

Iran encouraged Pakistan to accomplish the goals to promote the economic and social rights of the people, and to accelerate the efforts towards the full operationalization of the National Commission for Human Rights.

Iraq welcomed Pakistan’s spirit of cooperation and transparency during the Universal Periodic Review, and wished it success in the implementation of all the accepted recommendations.

Philippines appreciated Pakistan’s acceptance of its recommendation to strengthen the national and provincial commissions on the status of women through increased funding and support. It also acknowledged Pakistan’s continued efforts to mainstream human rights in the overall policy priorities and national discourse.

China commended Pakistan for continuously strengthening national human rights mechanisms. China thanked Pakistan for accepting its recommendations and urged the Government to continue assisting low-income citizens.

Saudi Arabia said it paid close attention to the position of Pakistan in relation to the recommendations in the report. Pakistan was lauded for its continued cooperation with human rights mechanisms. Saudi Arabia welcomed the accepted recommendations and noted that Pakistan was working to promote and protect human rights at all levels.

Sierra Leone noted with interest Pakistan’s efforts to improve access to health services. Sierra Leone was disappointed that none of the recommendations that it put forward had been accepted and urged Pakistan to consider acceding to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Sri Lanka noted that recommendations on improving maternal and neo-natal health services had been accepted by Pakistan for implementation. Pakistan was urged to expedite efforts to cooperate with treaty bodies and strengthen human rights institutions at all levels.

Sudan commended efforts in Pakistan to promote and protect human rights. Sudan noted with satisfaction that Pakistan had accepted the recommendations it put forth, namely on the mainstreaming of human rights and the promotion of the right to development.

Tunisia thanked Pakistan for accepting a majority of recommendations. Tunisia welcomed the creation of a national development plan aimed at consolidating the social rights of Pakistanis.

United Nations Population Fund commended the Government of Pakistan on its Universal Periodic Review report. It, however, drew attention to several challenges that remained. These included the harmonization of human rights standards and obligations at the federal and provincial levels, as well as the lack of standardized disaggregated data collection mechanisms on violence against women.

British Humanist Association drew the Council’s attention to the repeated recommendations of Member States to the Pakistani Government to abolish the country’s anti-blasphemy laws. The notion of ‘blasphemy’ had been repeatedly criticized as inconsistent with normative human rights standards.

European Centre for Law and Justice said in Pakistan discrimination against Christians and other minorities was commonplace and the Government had failed to bring the perpetrators to justice. Blasphemy laws were still a major concern, and police torture prevailed and remained unpunished.

Article 19-International Centre against Censorship said the review came at a time when freedom of expression was highly restricted in Pakistan. Journalists and human rights activists were being tried in courts, including under the Counter-Terrorism Act, and they endured assault, judicial harassment, and attacks which remained unpunished.

Action Canada for Population and Development in a joint statement with the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), said it was concerned about the insufficient attention paid to the sexual and reproductive health needs of young people, both in policy and in implementation. Pakistan had one of the highest maternal mortality rates, due to child, early and forced marriages.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues said Pakistan’s Government had missed yet another opportunity to show its commitment to human rights, and this was apparent through enforced disappearances, the use of the death penalty, persecution of minorities, and extrajudicial killings. It urged the Government to immediately begin the implementation of the recommendations that it did not accept, including those to abolish the anti-blasphemy laws.

Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches expressed concern about discriminatory blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Lynching by mobs raised serious concern about the misuse of the blasphemy laws. The organization called on the Government of Pakistan to repeal all discriminatory legislation, namely blasphemy laws.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Forum-Asia regretted that a recommendation to protect online freedom had been merely noted by Pakistan. The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act of 2016 empowered telecommunication regulators to arbitrarily filter or censor “objectionable content” which had restricted online expression.

Amnesty International reminded that the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances had more than 700 pending cases from Pakistan, and Pakistan’s State Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances had received reports of hundreds more. No one had ever been held accountable for an enforced disappearance in Pakistan.

International Commission of Jurists regretted that Pakistan had not supported recommendations related to amending its blasphemy laws, which were frequently misused. They blatantly discriminated against minority religions and sects, infringed on freedom of expression and religion, and gave rise to serious fair trial concerns.

World Environment and Resources Council noted that the collapse of the criminal justice system, the culture of impunity, and the Government’s refusal and inability to act in accordance with international human rights laws had left millions vulnerable and suffering in Pakistan, particularly in the province of Sindh.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 289 recommendations received, Pakistan accepted 168 and noted 121.

FARUKH AMIL, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said as a State party to seven core international and human rights instruments, Pakistan was already fulfilling its duties in the area of human rights. Some of the recommendations were currently being examined, however this process entailed alliance with national laws as well as practical implementation. Pakistan continued to implement and report to the main treaty bodies. The Foreign Minister had identified a series of steps in identifying and consolidating the national human rights institutions and in this respect, the Government had accepted almost all recommendations. A number of recommendations aimed at improving the socio-economic conditions of the people, and poverty alleviation had been accepted. The Government tackled these issues by improving the right to development, economic progress and anti-poverty measures, including through, inter alia, micro-credit schemes, strengthening the social safety nets on health and education, as well as ending child labour, improving vaccination, and other measures.

Mr. Amil said Pakistan’s progress had been realized despite the challenges of terrorism and extremism. As a result of targeted actions by security forces, all terrorist hideouts had been eliminated and this extraordinary fact had to be recognized. Minorities which were primary targets by these terrorist groups had enormously benefited from these actions. Minorities in Pakistan had the constitutional right to freely profess their religion – a case in point was the Christian Missionary Schools. A five per cent quota was ensured for minorities in employment, and deliberations on a Minority Protection Bill were in the pipeline. Blasphemy laws were instrumental in targeting discrimination issues. The death penalty was still in place due to the democratic will of the people. It was a consequence of the challenges related to terrorism, whereby public pressure to bring perpetrators to justice had pushed the moratorium back. The Government was committed to improving the status of women, who accounted for 25 per cent of all Members of Parliament. The Government was also working on trans-gender rights.

The outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan was then adopted.

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Zambia

MARGARET MARY LUNGU KAEMBA, Deputy Permanent Representative of Zambia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stated that the Universal Periodic Review was a platform which provided an opportunity for all Member States to declare what actions they had taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. Since its review, the Government of Zambia had examined all the recommendations which had been received and had held consultations with various stakeholders, through the Ministry of Justice. Zambia supported previously noted recommendations, namely those relating to the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as three Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Zambia had noted the recommendations relating to the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

Consequently, Zambia had accepted 183 recommendations, partially accepted one recommendation, and noted 19 recommendations. The accepted recommendations would form the basis for the preparation of an action plan to be used as a guide for the implementation process. Zambia had also started the process to establish a permanent mechanism which would be responsible for monitoring all recommendations. With respect to the abolition of the death penalty, the Constitution required that such amendments be subjected to a referendum. Despite having retained the death penalty in its statute books, Zambia was a de facto abolitionist country as the last executions had been carried out in 1997. In conclusion, Ms. Kaemba noted that Zambia remained resolute on enhancing human rights for all persons without distinction.

Human Rights Commission of Zambia recognized the 78 countries which had made oral and written submissions, non-government organizations which provided parallel reports and the Zambian Government for their commitment to an open and transparent process in reporting to the Council. The Human Rights Commission took the Universal Periodic Review seriously as it provided practical steps towards the promotion of human rights and opportunities for learning from other jurisdictions. It was noted that the Government had accepted 183 recommendations and was expected to ratify a number of Optional Protocols, especially regarding the death penalty as it had accepted a moratorium on the implementation of the sentences. The Commission was optimistic that the Government would continue its ongoing dialogue regarding the expansion of the bill of rights, including the incorporation of economic, social and cultural rights as envisaged in the failed referendum of 2018.

Algeria commended Zambia for accepting 183 recommendations, including those of Algeria concerning the granting of necessary means to the national commission on human rights and the protection of human rights and the environment in mining areas.

Angola was pleased that Zambia had accepted favourably recommendations made by States, particularly the one made by Angola on the improvement of healthcare centres and the reduction of mortality rates. Support was expressed to Zambia for continuing its cooperation with the United Nations bodies in fighting poverty, combatting trafficking against persons, and guaranteeing socio-economic conditions.

Burundi welcomed that Zambia had accepted recommendations after its active participation in the third Universal Periodic Review cycle, including on the establishment of a mechanism to combat corruption. Measures to combat trafficking and slavery were also welcomed, as well as the establishment of an inter-ministerial steering committee for raising the awareness of the public and for providing assistance to victims of trafficking.

China appreciated Zambia’s constructive participation in the Universal Periodic Review and supported its efforts to achieve sustainable development and raise living standards to build a solid foundation for the enjoyment of human rights. Health care improvements, including prevention of HIV/AIDS, should continue.

Republic of the Congo noted with satisfaction the presentation of the final report of Zambia and its acceptance of the majority of the recommendations, as well as supplementary information provided. Materialization of such recommendations, in addition to existing efforts of the Government, would bring a consolidation of the rule of law.

Cuba commended Zambia for not only reviewing the recommendations it had noted, but going further and accepting 183 recommendations. Now it was time to implement these and Cuba knew that the country would do so without hesitation. It wished Zambia success in doing so, and recommended the adoption of the report.

Egypt recalled with appreciation the active work of Zambia in the promotion and protection of human rights, which had been crowned with an amended Constitution in 2016. Egypt was glad that the recommendations accepted included those that it had proposed on the advancement of women and improving the situation of persons with disabilities.

Ethiopia thanked Zambia for accepting the recommendations given by many delegations, including by the Ethiopian delegation on the continuation of intensifying Zambia’s effort in combatting human trafficking and to further continue boosting birth registration by existing nation-wide awareness campaigns among Zambian citizens.

Honduras commended Zambia for the transparency, cooperation and spirit with which it had worked on the Universal Periodic Review. It also commended the acceptance of Honduras’ recommendation on children and on the sexual and reproductive rights of women. It hoped Zambia would review its decision not to abolish the death penalty.

Kenya commended Zambia for accepting many recommendations, including three made by Kenya which called for the increase in funding of the health sector, implementing laws aimed at protecting the right to life of the unborn, and on education reforms to increase the quality of education.

Lesotho said whilst Zambia had made remarkable progress, it remained cognizant of the challenges which the country was grappling with in the field of human rights. It therefore echoed the call for continued support from development partners and the international community in general.

Libya thanked Zambia for its active participation in the Universal Periodic Review and welcomed the progress made in implementing the recommendations, particularly in the field of women’s rights.

Madagascar commended Zambia’s actions to guarantee the rule of law and human rights, especially measures to promote women’s rights. Madagascar encouraged Zambia to continue the same dynamic and to maintain the current efforts to protect human rights.

International Save the Children Alliance recommended that Zambia expedite the process of the enactment of the Children’s Act, and requested the Government to finalize and present the Child Code Bill in Parliament in order to harmonize various pieces of legislation. It also asked Zambia to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12 years, and to combat child poverty.

Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, in a joint statement, noted that while Zambia had committed to curbing the high rates of maternal mortality, its acceptance of the recommendation to limit abortion was in contravention with its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Maputo Protocol.

Action Canada for Population and Development, in a joint statement, said that out of the 203 recommendations received, Zambia had noted significantly more recommendations than it had accepted. The social and legal criminalization of gender and sexuality posed a great threat to the lives and wellbeing of women and girls, sex workers and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.

Franciscans International said there were governance gaps that had to be filled in Zambia to counter negative socio-economic and environmental impacts of extractive industries. Zambia should adopt specific legislation on development-based displacement.

Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII was concerned about some practical obstacles that prevented the fulfilment of human rights. The Zambian Government was advised to strengthen nutrition education in schools, establish a national schools mapping mechanism for planning renovations and upgrading educational facilities, and carry out awareness-raising programmes for social and labour inclusion of children with disabilities.

Amnesty International welcomed assurances by Zambia that it upheld the principles of the Universal Periodic Review. It was extremely disappointed that Zambia had rejected 111 recommendations, including guaranteeing freedom of assembly, association and expression and abolition of the death penalty. The authorities continued to stifle freedom of the press, targeting journalists and human rights defenders.

CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation said since the last review, Zambia had not implemented three of the four recommendations related to civic space. Restrictions to civic space had not been repealed. In September 2017, several persons had been arrested following a peaceful protest in front of Parliament in protest of government spending.

Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme commended the enactment of the persons with disabilities act, the gender equity and equality act, and the anti-corruption mechanisms, as well as the ratification of international agreements. Several challenges remained, including the retention of the death penalty.

MARGARET MARY LUNGU KAEMBA, Deputy Permanent Representative of Zambia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the participants for the constructive dialogue. She noted that certain issues required urgent attention. These included the rights of children, the rights of women, the abolition of the death penalty, and an expanded bill of rights related to abortion, among other issues. She expressed her gratitude to the Troika for their support. Zambia remained committed to the review process and would continue to implement human rights.

The Vice President of the Human Rights Council informed that out of 203 recommendations received, Zambia accepted 183, partially accepted one recommendation, and noted 19.

The Council then adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Zambia.

New World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Agenda for Africa moves ahead in Berlin

New World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Agenda for Africa moves ahead in Berlin

BERLIN, Germany, March 13, 2018/ — An African ministerial working meeting conveyed by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) during this year’s Berlin International Tourism Fair ITB (8 March) agreed to move ahead with a new ten-point UNWTO Agenda for Africa. The final document will be adopted at the UNWTO Commission meeting for Africa, taking place in Nigeria in June this year.

Against the backdrop of international tourist arrivals expanding 8% in Africa in 2017, thus outgrowing the world average increase in arrivals, tourism is gaining weight as a development opportunity for the whole continent, with its vast diversity of nature, culture and wildlife its greatest vehicle for development.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili stressed that “tourism has huge potential to generate lasting development opportunities in Africa if we manage it in the right way, which is economic, social and environmental sustainability”.

The participants from 17 countries, including 14 ministers, supported a coordinated approach to seizing the continent’s potential for tourism, a sector that last year attracted more than 62 million international visitors. Issues on the UNWTO Agenda for Africa include, among others, connectivity, the image and brand of Africa, poverty alleviation, climate change, education and skills development, and financing. Delegates underscored the importance of educating other economic sectors on the broad impact of tourism for the benefit of societies and its people, and promoting tourism as a priority in national agendas.

The detailed, four-year UNWTO Agenda for Africa will be approved at the upcoming 61st Regional Commission for Africa – UNWTO’s annual gathering of all its member countries of the continent – in the Nigerian capital of Abuja (4-6 June).

The following countries were represented at the meeting at ITB: Angola, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Profiling Francophone West Africa as the leader in intra-regional trade

Profiling Francophone West Africa as the leader in intra-regional trade

LOME, Togo, March 5, 2018/ — Francophone West Africa leads in intra-regional trade with trade hotspots around Dakar, Abidjan, Cotonou and Lomé, according to analysis by Ecobank’s research team in its new website, AfricaFICC.

The team has updated Ecobank’s flagship Africa Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Guidebook (FICC) and made it available as an online resource: The website provides key facts for businesses and investors on the economies of Sub-Saharan Africa and the key sectors of activity.

The first regional section of the website to go live is Francophone West Africa, one of the most diverse regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Stretching from Senegal and Cape Verde in the West to Niger 2,000 miles away in the East, Francophone West Africa covers nine countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. Together they make up the Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest-Africaine (UEMOA). The website gives a country-by-country analysis of each country, with an economic outlook, details on the FX, FI and banking sectors, and overview of the mineral, energy and soft commodity sectors, as well as key trade flows.

Data for Francophone West Africa show that, despite geographical differences, the region is one of the best integrated economic and monetary zones in Africa, bolstered by the shared currency (the CFA franc), the common legal system (OHADA) and the French language which has fostered economic integration and intra-regional trade.

Key factors to consider include:

  • The region’s economy is driven by agriculture, mining, hydrocarbons, trade and financial services, and is home to the world’s largest producer of cocoa (Côte d’Ivoire) and Africa’s largest regional producers of cotton and palm oil.
  • Abidjan, Dakar, Cotonou and Lomé are key trade hubs for trade, acting as conduits for the import and export of goods and services, both to the international market and to sub-regional markets.
  • Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal account for more than half the block’s GDP and trade flows, acting as vital lifelines for their landlocked neighbours, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Benin and Togo are also major re-export hubs for capital & consumer goods and food, with large informal volumes not being captured by official data.
  • Côte d’Ivoire has the largest banking sector in UEMOA, followed by Senegal. Both countries are emerging as the key Fintech innovation hubs in Francophone Africa.

“Many businesses and investors struggle to find good and reliable economic data about Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Dr. Edward George, Ecobank’s Head of Group Research.

“Our new Africa FICC website offers a one-stop shop, with all the key economic, currency, banking, commodity and trade data that those working or investing in Sub-Saharan Africa need at their fingertips,” he said.

“Ecobank understands regional and local business customs, regulations and country-specific risks better than any other bank in Africa because we operate on the ground in 33 markets. This data will help us and our clients in making investment and other financial decisions as part of our seamless service,” said Charles Daboiko, Group Head for Francophone West Africa.

Country guides for the other regions of Sub-Saharan Africa – Anglophone West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa & Southern Africa – will go live over the coming month.

Country guides from other regions of sub-Saharan Africa – English-speaking West Africa, Central Africa, Eastern Africa and Southern Africa – will be posted online in the coming months.

Appendix 1: FICC facts and figures

Benin
• Benin is one of smallest countries in West Africa.
• It is West Africa’s third-largest cotton producer, with estimated output of 150,000 tonnes of cotton lint in 2016/17 – Benin’s most valuable export, worth US$187mn in 2016, with most exports going to India, Malaysia, Bangladesh and China for spinning and textiles.
• Benin is a major re-export hub, serving as a key informal conduit for capital and consumer goods going into and out of its eastern neighbour, Nigeria.

Burkina Faso
• Burkina Faso has recently emerged as West Africa’s third largest producer of gold (after Ghana and Mali), with estimated output of 45 tonnes in 2017 and is now its most valuable export, worth US$1.6bn in 2016. Thanks to major investment production of gold is expanding, along with other minerals such as zinc (169,000 tonnes produced in 2016) and lead (2,000 tonnes).
• Burkina Faso is West Africa’s leading cotton producer, with estimated output of 283,000 tonnes of cotton lint in 2016/17 which totalled US$423mn in 2016. It is also a significant producer of sesame (95,000 tonnes in 2017) and cashew nuts (86,000 tonnes), all exported raw to world markets.

Côte d’Ivoire 
• One of Sub-Saharan Africa’s leading soft commodity exporters, accounting for 14.2% of the total in 2016. Cocoa and cocoa products were the largest export, totalling US$5.7 bn.
• The world’s leading producer of cocoa, with record output of 2.01mn tonnes in 2016/17 (October-September), 42.8% of world output.
• Africa’s largest producer of natural rubber, with estimated output of 326,101 tonnes in 2015, most of which was exported to world markets.

Cape Verde
• An archipelago with the region’s smallest population of just over half a million people.
• With limited land and water resources, Cape Verde does not produce agricultural commodities for export and the country remains heavily dependent on food imports to meet domestic needs.

Guinea-Bissau
• Guinea Bissau is Africa’s third largest producer of cashew nuts, with estimated output of 200,000 tonnes of raw cashews (RCN) in 2017, around 8% of world production.

Mali
• Mali is the third largest producer of gold in Sub-Saharan Africa, Gold, with an estimated output of 63 tonnes in 2016 and production set to rise, is Mali’s most valuable commodity export worth US$2bn in 2016, and and makes up a quarter of government revenues. The government hopes to raise total production to over 100 tonnes in the near term.
• Mali is West Africa’s second largest cotton producer after Burkina Faso. Run by a state monopoly, Mali’s cotton production has risen steadily since 2013/14, reaching a record 266,000 tonnes of cotton lint in 2016/17, worth US$266mn in exports. Output forecast to grow further to 300,000 tonnes in 2017/18, thereby making Mali Africa’s largest cotton grower; Malian cotton fibre trades at a slight premium to Burkinabè fibre, owing to its longer staple length and reliable deliveries.
• In 2016 Mali exported US$228mn worth of live animals to neighbouring countries (mostly cows, sheep and goats)

Niger
• Niger is Africa’s largest producer of uranium, with estimated output of 2,904 tonnes in 2016, worth US$299mn, 93% of which is exported to France as fuel and the balance to the USA;
• Niger became an oil producer in 2011 when production started at the Agadem block: output has averaged 20,000 bpd; but production is set to rise following the award of a second oil licence in November 2013;
• Niger is a major re-exporter of food to neighbouring countries; in 2016 it exported US$134mn of rice, US$132mn of palm oil and US$31mn of pasta.

Senegal
• Senegal has the second largest banking sector in the UEMOA, after Côte d’Ivoire.
• Senegal’s banking sector is loan-driven, with loans and advances accounting for more than half of total assets and the wholesale lending activities – primarily to SMEs and local and multinational corporates – the main growth driver.
• Senegal’s mining sector is focused on gold, phosphates and cement production, with an estimated 10 tonnes of gold produced in 2016, all for export. New investment aims to increase annual production to more than 30 tonnes by 2022.
• Estimated output of cement was 2.9 million tonnes in 2016, both for domestic consumption and for export to the sub-region, and output of phosphate rock was 473,000 tonnes in 2016; Senegal is a hub for processing this into phosphoric acid, the key ingredient in fertiliser.
• Senegal has a dynamic horticultural goods sector which is seeking to challenge the dominance of Kenya and Ethiopia for market share of the EU’s organic fruit and vegetable market.

Togo
• Togo is a major trade hub for the West African region.
• Phosphate is Togo’s most valuable mineral export, representing up to 11% of foreign exchange earnings; a total of 846,091 tonnes was exported in 2016, most of which went to India and Canada
• Togo is a major exporter of cement (US$137mn in 2016), cotton (US$53mn) and phosphate rock (US$81mn), most of which is produced in Togo; it is also a re-exporter of imported goods including plastics (worth US$95mn), vehicles and machinery (US$76mn), cosmetics (US$49mn), with the majority going to neighbouring Ghana and Nigeria.

 

About Ecobank
Incorporated in Lomé, Togo in 1988, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’)  is the parent company of the leading independent pan-African banking group, Ecobank. It currently has a presence in 36 African countries, namely: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Group employs over 17,000 people in 40 different countries in over 1,200 branches and offices. Ecobank is a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organisations, medium, small and micro businesses and individuals.

Growth and innovation in African retail banking

Growth and innovation in African retail banking

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, February 28, 2018/ — The McKinsey Global Banking practice has today published a new report on African Retail Banking – Roaring to life: Growth and innovation in African retail banking..

The report finds that Africa’s banking markets are among the most exciting in the world. The continent’s overall banking market is the second-fastest-growing and second most profitable of any global region, and a hotbed of innovation. Nearly 300 million Africans are banked today, a number that could rise to 450 million in 5 years. The report illustrates four segments of African markets – from the advanced markets like South Africa and Egypt, to fast-growing transition markets such as Kenya, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, to sleeping giants like Algeria, Nigeria and Angola, to nascent banking markets like DRC and Ethiopia.

The report finds that Africa’s top quintile banks – the so-called “winners” – are simultaneously 4 times more profitable and over 2 times faster growing than bottom quintile banks. The report’s key findings are that these “winners” are defined by employing one or more of five winning practices:

  1. Draw the right map. In Africa, geography matters. About 65 percent of African banks’ profitability (measured by RoE) and 94 percent of their revenue growth are attributable to their geographic footprint. Importantly, the report highlights a shift in exchange-rate adjusted revenue pools North Africa, East Africa and West Africa, and away from South Africa.
  1. Right segments, compelling offers. We find that 70 percent of revenue pool growth will occur in the middle segments, defined as earning between US$ 6,000 and US$ 36,000 in annual income. The mass market – individuals earning less than US$6,000 per annum – accounts for 13 percent of the growth, but is the fastest growing segment. Whichever segment banks choose, having the right proposition is key. Our survey of 2,500 banking customers in 6 African countries finds that 25 percent of customers choose price as the most important factors in choosing banks. Equally important is convenience, also cited by 25 percent of customers. Service is the third most important factor, selected by 12 percent of customers. We also find huge cross-sell opportunities – while 95% of Africans have transaction products, fewer than 20 percent have lending, insurance, investment or deposit products.
  1. Leaner, simpler banking. While African banks’ cost: income has been falling, we find that this is due to rising margins for banks, and their cost-to-assets ratio has actually been worsening. At 3.6 percent, Africa has the 2nd highest cost-to-assets ratio in the world. However, rapid efficiency gains are possible, and we spotlight eight African banks that have made strides in efficiency in the last five years, through a combination of three levers – end-to-end digitisation; sales productivity improvements fuelled by advanced analytics; back- and middle-office optimisation.
  1. Digital first. 40% of Africans prefer to use digital channels for transactions. In four major African countries – South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Angola – a higher proportion of Africans prefer the digital channel for transactions to the branch channel. Given low branch density in Africa, banks need to employ a digital first approach. The report hones in on four themes of innovation emerging in Africa on digital – end-to-end digital transformations (e.g. Equity Bank); partnering with telco companies (e.g. CBA in Kenya or Diamond Bank in Nigeria); building a digital bank (e.g. ALAT in Nigeria); and building an ecosystem (e.g. Alipay in China).
  1. Innovate on risk. African banking still has the second highest cost of risk in the world. Poor data availability is part of the problem: 11 percent of Africans are on credit bureaus, compared to in excess of 90 percent in advanced markets. However, we are seeing innovations such as banks partnering with data and analytics fintechs like Jumo to improve credit underwriting; banks partnering with telcos to leverage telco data to issue small-ticket loans on mobile; and players employing payroll lending across countries.

This new report draws on the experience of McKinsey’s partners and colleagues serving banks across Africa; McKinsey’s Global Banking Pools research; a proprietary database of the financial performance of 35 of Africa’s leading banks; a survey of executives from 20 banks and financial institutions across Africa; and a broad-based survey of 2,500 banking customers from 6 African countries – South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, Angola and Kenya.

muslim media

The report finds that Africa’s banking markets are among the most exciting in the world. The continent’s overall banking market is the second-fastest-growing and second most profitable of any global region, and a hotbed of innovation. Nearly 300 million Africans are banked today, a number that could rise to 450 million in 5 years. The report illustrates four segments of African markets – from the advanced markets like South Africa and Egypt, to fast-growing transition markets such as Kenya, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, to sleeping giants like Algeria, Nigeria and Angola, to nascent banking markets like DRC and Ethiopia.

British Ambassador John Dennis bids farewell to Luanda, Angola

British Ambassador John Dennis bids farewell to Luanda, Angola

LUANDA, Angola, February 13, 2018/ — The reception on the 7th February was attended by over 150 key contacts from the Angolan government, business, academia and civil society, as well as by diplomatic partners.

Since his arrival in 2014 Ambassador Dennis has led successful and ongoing efforts to deepen cooperation between Angola and the UK in trade, defence, education and the environment. As well as on key global and regional issues. A bilateral Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2016, institutional and people to people contacts are now thickening fast.

In his farewell speech, Ambassador Dennis said:

“I knew I wanted to be Ambassador to Angola from the moment I first set foot here: three years before that wish came true. I was overwhelmed by people’s energy and determination to succeed.”

“The government of Angola is now responding with vigour to the economic challenges posed by the fall in the oil price. It has set in train a range of reforms- and new policies, designed, to diversify the economy by opening it to new, productive investment, both domestic and international. The UK is determined to engage and to help: to the benefit of all. We are doing a lot together already but there is still much more we can do.”

“It has been an honour and huge satisfaction to be involved in all of this, in bringing UK and Angolan players together and helping the potential turn into real outcomes.”