Respecting the rights of urban refugees in East Africa through a human rights approach to urbanisationPosted: 7 September, 2015
The city is the new refugee camp…
~ International Rescue Committee
Article 1 of the 1951 United Nations (UN) Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Convention) defines refugee as ‘a person who is outside his or her country of nationality or habitual residence due to a well-founded fear of persecution base on race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion and is unable or unwilling to avail him or herself of the protection of that country or to return there for fear of persecution’. Due to contextual issues, article 1 of the 1969 Organisation for African Unity’s Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (1969 OAU Convention) added a second paragraph to the 1951 Convention to incorporate people that have been displaced due to liberation wars and internal upheavals.
Meanwhile, there is no internationally recognised definition for urban refugees. However, the Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK) defines an urban refugee as a refugee who satisfies the international requirements for obtaining a refugee status and has self-settled in a city or town. Recent decades have experienced rapid population growth with most cities witnessing urban sprawl. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported in 2009 that an estimated 58 percent of the world’s 10.5 million refugees now reside in cities.
Despite it being mostly rural region, UN Habit has projected that Sub-Saharan Africa and for that matter countries in Eastern Africa will have more than half of its population residing in urban areas by 2026. Characteristically, there has been increasing flow of refugees to urban areas in this region too. According to official UNHCR 2015 statistics, four Eastern African countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia) host more than 1.5 million refugees. These refugees are mostly from 9 countries (Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo).
Taking the right to adequate food seriously: Reflections on the International Agreement on Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food SystemsPosted: 23 February, 2015
After two years of negotiations the Principles of Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (PRIAF) were approved by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on October 15, 2014. This has been endorsed by some as a breakthrough for realising the right to adequate food and ensuring food security for all.
Since the 2007/2008 global economic crisis, agricultural investments, particularly large scale investments have flourished across the globe. Africa has become a major destination for large scale agriculture investors largely due to the cheap and fertile land, and poor protection of land rights. The investments are apparatuses of the market led agricultural trade liberalization model claimed to be the panacea for food insecurity in the world by hegemonic industrialized states.
It is evident that some of these investments have utterly affected the right to adequate food in Africa and elsewhere as the investments, for instance, displaced people from their land, or registered futile contribution to food security and nutrition. For this reason some practitioners proposed human rights based regulation of global and national food and nutrition related policies. Nevertheless the investors and host nations defended the investments and denied the adverse effects.
The PRIAF was born out of these competing views on agricultural investments. It brought together major stakeholders to come into consensus on common principles on how to conduct agriculture investments. It is an effort to regulate agriculture investments globally; and to strike a balance between investment promotion and protection of human rights and ensuring sustainable development.
March 2013 marks ten years of one of the most innovative initiatives established under the auspices of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Created in 2003, the main objective of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is to foster the adoption of standard practices for political stability, sustainable development and economic integration through experience sharing between member states. As a voluntary process open to all members of the African Union, the steps of the APRM process include a country self-assessment, a review mission by the APRM Panel of Eminent Persons, a review of the ensuing Panel report by APRM Member States, and a finalized programme of action (NPoA) – the blueprint for development agreed upon by all stakeholders. These NPoAs are critical to identifying development challenges, and laying the foundation for legal and policy changes.
As of January 2013, the APRM boasts a membership of 35 States, with Tunisia and Chad as the newest members. Yet, the APRM has been plagued by financial and logistical challenges, stalled peer reviews and an occasionally negative public perception. In this piece, I highlight how a holistic approach to critiquing the APRM sheds light on some of the positive contributions the mechanism has made to development in Africa, and also illuminates the path for the next ten years.