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SOTU Malawi convenes the National Citizen Conference on Human Rights and Governance

The National Advocacy Platform (NAP) under the State of the Union (SOTU) governance programme in Malawi, on 23rd March 2016 held a National Citizen Conference on Human Rights and Governance at Hotel Victoria in Blantyre.

The conference was held to assess the human rights and governance situation in Malawi in recognition to the African Union (AU) theme for 2016 ”The African Year of Human Rights with a Particular Focus of the Rights of Women”.

Over 90 delegates drawn from civil society and citizen groups attended the one-day conference. Mrs. Margaret Ali, the Executive Director for Save the Children Fund Malawi graced the occasion as Guest of Honour.

During the forum, key priority issues were identified by sector that will inform the drafting of the 2016 Grand Petition (ll) to be used as an engagement tool as the platform tracks the domestication and implementation of AU Charters and protocols. The Conference also helped to generate a plan for Sectoral Engagements for the SOTU programme.

Following incisive and engaging discussions, the NAP called upon the Malawi Government, the African Union, Political parties, the Malawi Police Service, Religious Leaders, Private Sector and the Civil society to put in place measures that promote, defend and support the human rights programmes for the benefit of ordinary citizens.

Recommendations arising from the conference included;

Compliance and Accountability: There is need for authorities, duty bearers and all stakeholders to ensure that there is total compliance and accountability in formulation and implementation of development programmes.

Human and Peoples Rights: Government and all stakeholders should eliminate and deal with all violations of human rights including arbitrary arrests, killing of albinos, political violence, and other human rights abuses.

Democracy, Elections and Governance: Government, political parties and other stakeholders should nurture and embrace a culture of democracy and respect for freedoms enshrined in legal and policy instruments.

Health: Access to quality health care services is a human right. Patients need to be accorded their rights by providing the necessary human resource, food, drugs and equipment in all the hospitals.

Food Security: Sustainable means of ensuring food security such as irrigation and increased investment need to be put in place before the next farming season.

Women Rights: Effective programmes and interventions must be put in place to politically and economically equip women and girls advance their rights. Women need to be involved in decision making, “Nothing for Women without Women”.

Corruption: Fight against corruption must be independent to ensure that all cases of corruption are concluded. It is a major catalysts of human rights abuses and violence as it affects social service delivery in education, health and other sectors.

Children and Youth: Over 65% Malawi’s population is young people below the age of 24. Child rights abuses must be combated. Youth poverty, illiteracy, and political abuse pose a greater danger to the Malawi society, hence the need to place children and youth at the center of development.

Environment Conservation: Environment degradation and climate change are hindering the enjoyment of human rights for poor sections of the society. Reports of heavy-handedness and abuse by the Malawi army in the forest reserves need to be propped and stopped.

Human rights and good governance is key to achieving development goals. The NAP urged the Malawi government and the African Union (AU) to effectively implement Project 2016 on human rights with a special attention to the rights of women and girls.

The meeting concluded that for Malawi to advance, human rights and good governance must be adopted as strong tools for fostering equality and justice for all citizens. The rights and freedoms enshrined in various national and regional instruments need to be realized for the benefit of citizens.

CSOs and citizen groups present, committed to engage the authorities and various stakeholders to ensure that human rights are a priority focus in democratic and development processes.

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SOTU Africa Ghar El Meleh marathon in Tunisia – Engaging African citizens through sports

The 4th edition of the Ghar El Meleh marathon, Tunisia.
Using sports to engage African citizens to act/do/engage/speak-out on matters that affect their development, freedoms and rights ‪#‎BeTheVoice‬ My African Union

The State of the Union (SOTU) Coalition in Tunisia led by the Arab Institute for Human Rights (AIHR), a, held a marathon in partnership with the LAZARET association for youth and sports. This was part of outlined activities under My African Union campaign that seeks to mobilize African citizens to be the voice that calls on African governments to implement the commitments they have adopted in the form of legal instruments and policy standards at the African Union (AU).

The project aims at Strengthening Tunisian Citizens’ Participation in Policy Development, Monitoring and Implementation within the African Union”. Persons with disability as well as the young and old joined in to race. Efforts from SOTU have seen Tunisian citizens increasingly engage with issues of the African Union and participate in debates and discussions on them.

The event was also attended by the India ambassador to Tunisia, the Regional Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Mr. Abdelkarim Fatnasi, and the Governor of Ghar El Melh, Mr. Sofiene Ben Faddah. This is one of the events that SOTU in Tunisia put together to sensitize and educate the Tunisian youth on the campaign.

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SOTU Tunisia sign cooperation agreement on Scientific Research in African Affairs

SOTU Tunisia May 4th, 2016: Mr. Abdelbasset Ben Hassen, President of the Arab Institute for Human Rights (AIHR) and Professor Dr. Hedi Jallab, General Director of the Tunisian National Archives (a State Institution under the Prime Minister Office), signed a cooperation agreement on Scientific Research in African Affairs.

This agreement is one of the implementation tools of AIHR-SOTU project titled: “Strengthening Strengthening Tunisian Citizens Participation in Policy Development, Implementation and Monitoring within the African Union”. It includes a set of activities amongst: 1) establishing a research study that outlines the peculiarities of Tunisian relations with various countries across the African continent, and 2) preparing an exhibition of archives documents about Africa on the occasion of African Day (May 25th).

A number of academics and researchers attended the signing event amongst we mention: Professor Dr. Hayet Amamou, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of Tunis, Professor Dr. Mustapha Tlili, Head of the Department of History at the same faculty, and Professor Dr. Lotfi Aissa, who is leading the preparation of the aforementioned study. A number of Tunisian National Archives staff were present together with experts and researchers taking part in other activities of the same program.

On behalf of the Arab Institute for Human Rights (AIHR) Ms. Lamia Grar, Executive Director and Ms. Rola Badran, Programs Officer were present together with Mr. Bassem Ammari, Media Officer and Mr. Mouldi Abidi, Officer in charge of Public Relations and Protocols.


SOTU Malawi Grand Petition ll to Government on May 25 Africa Day 2016

The National Advocacy Platform (NAP) under the State of the Union (SOTU) coalition in Malawi presented the Grand Petition ll to the Malawi Government through the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) as part of commemoration of the Africa Day, 25 May.

The Principal Secretary of OPC Mr. Clement Chinthu Phiri received the Petition on behalf of the Malawi Government for forwarding to the Head of State. Through the Chairperson, Mr. Robert Mkwezalamba, NAP has called for urgent attention to the issues raised and recommendations made.

Among the urgent issues raised included the call for decisive actions to stop the killing of People with Albinism. As we celebrate Africa Day 2016, it is being reported that a new murder case in Tcheu district has emerged. It involved a man with Albinism who was attacked while working in his dambo field. These killings are unacceptable and need to be tackled with urgency.

Below is the summary of the Grand Petition ll 


The National Advocacy Platform (NAP) comprising civil society and citizen groups
believes that for Malawi to make remarkable progress on its effort to address political,
social and economic challenges, and to ensure that all citizens enjoy equal rights
enshrined in the various legal and policy instruments including the Republican
Constitution, the following are the key asks the Government of Malawi and other
stakeholders should seriously and expeditiously ACT ON:

1. Stop the killings of people with albinism and severely punish the perpetrators
of this inhuman and barbaric violence against citizens. JUSTICE must be served.

2. Eradicate all forms of violence and discrimination against children, women,
people with disability and political opponents- such acts are unacceptable.

3. End hunger by depoliticizing the agriculture sector, invest in massive irrigation
programmes and declare maize as a protected crop.

4. Ensure that public hospitals have food, drugs and functional medical equipment-
the breakdown of health care system is affecting the poor most.

5. Decisively act against corruption by bringing to book and punishing all persons
implicated in government offices and district councils.

6. Complete the 2006/2007 Constitutional Review process to comprehensively
respond to emerging political and governance concerns and harmonize the
reform agenda. This process is long-overdue and remains a key governance
issue that needs urgent attention.

7. Enhance compliance with regional and international charters and protocols such
as the AU instruments for the benefit of citizens.

8. Ensure that all children of Malawi are accorded the right to education and
protection irrespective of their background, social status, and physical abilities-
the education crisis concerning the school dropout by children with albinism in
fear of attacks must be investigated and mechanisms be put in place to ensure
that these children return to school

9. Prioritize youth development by establishing Parliamentary youth committee
and awarding young entrepreneurs 30% of public contracts as a response to
rising youth unemployment.

10. Ratify the Revised AU Convention on Conservation of Nature and Natural
Resources and invest in climate change mitigation programmes.


SOTU Journalist Competition 2016

SOTU Journalist Competition 2016

Call for Submissions

The State of the Union Coalition (SOTU) calls out for submissions of articles from journalists working in the 10 African countries SOTU has membership; Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Tunisia. The competition is open to African journalists reporting on Human Rights and Governance issues in the print and digital media. Deadline: 31st May 2016 at 11:59 (GMT +3).


The State of the Union Coalition (SOTU) is a coalition of civil society organizations working together to advocate for the ratification, domestication, and implementation of African Union (AU) instruments (i.e. treaties, policy frameworks and standards). SOTU believes that the successful implementation of these instruments will have tremendous and positive impact on the lives millions of African citizens.

Theme: Human Rights and Governance in Africa


Your article must fall into one of these categories;

  1. Corruption
  2. Food Security
  3. Women
  4. Youth

Eligibility and Dates

The competition is open to all bona fide practising journalists from Africa who must be African Citizens.
We are looking at having new and fresh submissions that must have been published in May 2016.

The articles must make reference to at least 1 of the 14 SOTU focus AU legal instruments & policy standards. Refer to them on;

Class of Entries

  • Print and Digital


Entries must be in the 4 select African Union languages;

i) English ii) French iii) Portuguese and iv) Arabic

Broad Rules of the competition

  • The competition shall be open to all print media journalists who are citizens of AU member states and who are based in Africa and whose publications are published in AU member states.
  • Winners will be selected from the 10 participating countries, 1 each from print and online/digital. Additionally, there will be 2 regional winners and an overall winner.
  • Each journalist entering the competition shall be required to show proof that he/she is a citizen of an AU member state
  • Each entry shall be accompanied by full names of the writer, the name and contact details of his/her employer, his/ her position in the news organisation and region from where the entry is emanating:
  • Should you be selected, a written confirmation on official letterhead from the media organisation employing the journalists, confirming his/ her employment in the agency and confirming the dates of publication of all the submitted entries will be required.
  • On receipt, the entries will be judged by a competent panel of judges established by the SOTU coalition.
  • Entries from qualified female journalists are encouraged.

Submissions sent without the required accompanying documentation will be disqualified. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into after the closing dates.

How to enter


Winners in each of the categories will receive $500 and the overall winner will receive an additional cash prize of $500

Selection Criteria

Entries will be evaluated on their potential to educate and inform diverse audiences about issues related to African Union Agenda in line with the theme of the awards. The judges will score entries on the following criteria.

  • Accuracy and fairness
  • Present innovative or enhanced approach on issues
  • Relevance to the public policy and debate
  • Easily understood by the targeted audience
  • Quality of presentation

Opening and closing dates for submissions

  • Entries for the competition will be opened on 1st May 2016 and will close 31st May 2016.
  • Winners will be informed in June 2016.

How to submit

Interested journalists are invited to submit entries to the SOTU Secretariat. The entries for print should be a scanned copy of the published article with accompanying word version, for digital send a link and a word copy of the article.

Submissions should be sent electronically to