Zvamaida Murwira, Harare Bureau
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday commended the African Union for being the first to come up with human rights instruments which comprehensively address human rights challenges faced by internally displaced persons.
VP Mnangagwa said the Kampala Convention, which sought to address challenges for internally displaced people, was an innovative regional response to their rights and needs dealing with prevention and solutions.
He was addressing an inaugural Conference of State Parties to the Kampala Convention attended by Government Ministers and experts from the AU held in Harare.
“It is trite that the primary responsibility for respecting, protecting and promoting the human rights of persons falls squarely on the individual states,” said VP Mnangagwa. “This is an integral aspect we must all be alive to when we discuss human rights issues.
“Accordingly, as internally displaced persons are first and foremost our nationals, it is our primary responsibility as governments to protect them. National responsibility is a core concept of any response to internal displacement. It is a fundamental operating principle of our governments.”
VP Mnangagwa said the international law principle of “responsibility to protect” enjoined States to adopt steps to implement measures that ensured enjoyment of rights by their citizens and other nationals.
“To that end, I implore all the countries that have ratified or acceded to the Kampala Convention to move a step further and domesticate the provisions of this Convention into their national legislation,” he said.
“Admittedly, the development of national legislation to implement international human rights treaties is one of the best possible avenues to build a stronger foundation for the enjoyment of such rights.”
VP Mnangagwa urged the AU to gather data and have proper statistical information to enable proper planning on internal displacement.
“This will go a long way in ensuring that we have accurate statistics of displaced persons for more effective planning,” he said. “More and better data of IDPs is needed to meet African governments’ commitment to not only the Kampala Convention, but the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the UN’s Agenda for Humanity, the African Regional Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Comprehensive and disaggregated data will go a long way in ensuring that IDPs are well protected.”
VP Mnangagwa called on governments to build foundations of stable nations as one way of resolving challenges of internally displaced persons.
“Securing stability on the African continent will go a long way towards meeting the developmental needs of the continent and thereby obviating the recurrence of internal conflicts,” he said.
The event was attended by Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira, Foreign Affairs Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi and other senior Government officials.