AU Urged To Focus on Rights-Based Humanitarian Action

By Catherine Ageno

African countries have been challenged to take the lead in ensuring that all humanitarian action is rights-based since all such action is about protection of rights.

This was voiced during the just concluded 4th African Union Annual Humanitarian Symposium held in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on 28 – 30 November 2016.

According to Mr. Olabisi Dare, the Head of Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees, and Displaced Persons Division at the AU Commission, African countries must do more in telling their own stories and be able to document and shape the narrative.

“What we don’t do well as Africans is tell our own stories to shape our humanitarian narrative”, said Mr. Dare.

He also says humanitarian financing must be diversified to include domestic resources, crowdsourcing & seeking philanthropists and that management of disasters should be improved to avoid creating more problems as others are solved.

Participants at the Symposium also asked the African Union is also asked to relax its bureaucracy in times of emergencies to allow for swift response to humanitarian crises.

They also agreed that humanitarian financing should be predictable and allow for both responsibility and burden sharing.

The Symposium was focused on formulating Humanitarian Architecture & 10 Year Humanitarian Action Plan under the theme; From Common African Position to Implementing a New African Humanitarian Architecture”

It provided the opportunity to dialogue with AU on how it can better deliver and support humanitarian action on the continent.

The main objective of the Symposium was to identify critical elements of the proposed 10 year AU Plan of Action on humanitarian effectiveness in Africa, identify common threads of the various AU enunciations on humanitarian action with a view to developing a comprehensive strategy and approach for their effective implementation.

Dialogue and engage with stakeholders to identify necessary areas of synergies in current local, regional and international initiatives that could support achievement of the objectives of AU humanitarian agenda in the next 10 years.

It also identified partnerships and resources that are necessary to compliment implementation of the 10 year Plan of Action.

Early this year, African Leaders gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during their Ordinary Summit and adopted a new discourse to strengthen humanitarian action in the continent. This new humanitarian architecture is summarised in the Common African Position on Humanitarian Effectiveness (CAP)2, adopted by African leaders during the January 2016 Summit.

The Action Plan is structured around five strategic areas, identified in the CAP, which include; strengthening role of the State in humanitarian action,  reforming of the humanitarian architecture, addressing root causes and durable solutions, moving from norm setting to implementation; linking humanitarian action to sustainable development.