Enhancing CSOs’ Knowledge and Skills in African and International Human Rights Instruments

Enhancing CSOs’ Knowledge and Skills in African and International Human Rights Instruments

As West African states have been implementing anti-COVID-19 directives to curb the global pandemic, civil society organisations (CSOs) have increasingly raised criticism on national and regional decision-making and governance related to the pandemic. In particular, they have highlighted that these health measures have often not been subjected to democratic debate and parliamentary oversight. They have also reported that in some West African countries, such as Nigeria and Senegal, during the pandemic, journalists have been arrested or sacked from their media outlets. In Guinea, they have not stopped questioning president Alpha Conde’s alleged intentions to use COVID-19 as a pretext to push through a new constitution that would enable him to run for a third mandate.

Yet, if COVID-19 represents a threat for human rights and civil liberties, it also constitutes an opportunity for CSOs to raise awareness on general interest issues for a prosperous, democratic and peaceful West Africa. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the growing need for CSOs to play their roles as watchdogs and to champion the protection of human rights and civil liberties (Africa report, 2020). The pandemic could also be analysed as one of the triggers of the resurgence of street-level mobilisation, such as in Mali where protestors requested the President to resign from office after highly contested elections organised amidst COVID. CSOs could, therefore, leverage on the pandemic to make their voices fully heard by public authorities and achieve significant transformations in terms of public policies.

However, West African CSOs are faced with several challenges that limit their capacities to lead the protection of human rights and civil liberties. As evidenced by a WACSI report, CSOs tend to maintain their interventions in community development, solidarity activities and water supply among others, rather than engaging in human rights, youth and education, and empowerment of women. Limited knowledge about the regional and international human rights system, inadequate skills to engage with the mechanism and resources to engage with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) could further explain why they are not fully reaching their potential in safeguarding human rights and civil liberties.

In this context, WACSI with its partner CIVICUS, organised a two-day webinar on 18 and 19 June 2020 (the first part is accessible here and the second part here) on the use of and engagement with regional and international human rights procedures for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. The webinar enabled 28 participants from 13 West African Francophone, Anglophone and Portuguese-speaking countries* to become familiar with common African and international human rights instruments, as well as to be equipped with skills and knowledge in advocacy, lobbying strategies for engagement with the African and global human rights system. All participants received a certificate after the training that attests to their engagement in the training.

In the introduction of this webinar, Paul Mulindwa, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer, CIVICUS highlighted the importance of the session.

“This webinar comes at the right time when we all really need to engage in different platforms, to have exposure to what happening in terms of restrictions. The pandemic has really front-loaded some of those habits that we have kept under our coffers in terms of governance and human rights. Thus, having a meeting of that sort becomes timely and important for all of us in our different contexts”, he explained.

100% of participants expressed satisfaction with the webinar, with more than 90% asserting that the presentation and facilitation style positively contributed to their learning experience. According to one participant,

“I have understood through this first session that advocacy and human rights mechanisms are universal and that each country can use common means to assert itself. The internationalisation and regionalisation of these mechanisms is a matter not only for human rights specialists but also for actors in other fields,” a participant explained.

Do you work for a CSO in West Africa? Do you want to benefit from such free training? We have several special training opportunities that are only accessible to CSOs registered on our E-Directory platform here. If you have difficulty in registering, please watch this explanatory video or contact us at regionaldirectory@wacsi.org or +233501440545 (WhatsApp).

* The 28 participants were from Togo, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Benin, Gambia, Nigeria, Liberia, Mali, Guinea, Mauritania, Senegal, Niger and Côte d’Ivoire.

About the author

+ posts

Yse Auque-Pallez holds a Bachelor in Social Sciences and Philosophy from Sciences Po Paris and La Sorbonne Paris IV since 2018, she is a Second Year Master's degree student in International Development with African Studies and Project Management Majors at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA - Sciences Po).

Share:

Yse Auque-Pallez

Yse Auque-Pallez holds a Bachelor in Social Sciences and Philosophy from Sciences Po Paris and La Sorbonne Paris IV since 2018, she is a Second Year Master's degree student in International Development with African Studies and Project Management Majors at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA - Sciences Po).

Leave your comments

FIIFI BOATENG

Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.

NANCY KANKAM KUSI

Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.

AGNES ADWOA ANIMA

Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.

DORIS ODEI

Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.

PRINCE AKOWUAH

Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

MAXWELL APENTENG

Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.

GEORGE ADU-MINTAH

George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.

IBRAHIM KWAKU GBADAGO

Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.

RUTH YAKANA

Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

BETHEL KWAME BOATENG

Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.

WHITNAY SEGNONNA

Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.

STELLA YAWA WOWOUI

Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.

KWAME ASANTE

Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.

GRACE AKPENE ZIGGAH

Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.

LILLIAN DAFEAMEKPOR

Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

JOHN P. FRINJUAH

John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.

GERVIN CHANASE

Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.

LEANDRE BANON

Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.

SAMUEL APPIAH

Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.

JIMM CHICK FOMUNJONG

Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.

FRANCK A. SOMBO

Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.

OMOLARA T. BALOGUN

Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 10 years progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa. She joined WACSI in November 2009 as an Advocacy Consultant. And later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer in 2010 and Head of Policy Influencing and Advocacy unit in 2015. As head, she offers strategic direction to the institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organized and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality.


Previously, Omolara served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria. She also served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa where she teamed up to design and implement two programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

KWABENA KRODUAH

Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.

CHARLES KOJO VANDYCK

Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.

NANA ASANTEWA AFADZINU

Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.