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Interview 1

The formation of a Consortium to push for ratification of AU instruments in Rwanda: Interview with Alexis Nkurunziza, CLADHO.

In 2012, the State of the Union coalition will powerfully hold Member States of the African Union accountable for the implementation of fourteen democracy, human rights and development African Union standards. The campaign will support Governments and citizens to understand and act to realize the freedoms and rights contained in the standards and legal instruments. At the beginning of the year, Pamela Inoti interviewed coalition leaders on their plans for doing so. For further information: www.stateoftheunionafrica.net

Alexis Nkurunziza, is the Public Policy Advocacy Officer, Le Collectif des Ligues et Associations de Défense des Droits de l’Homme au (CLADHO), based in Kigali, Rwanda

Why did your organisation join the State of the Union coalition?
CLADHO is an umbrella of 8 human rights organizations in Rwanda. Our aim is to defend, protect and promote human rights and social justice by raising citizen participation in policy awareness. CLADHO shares the vision of the SOTU coalition.

How far has your organisation reached in terms of establishing the conditions for your Government to ratify and implement key AU standards and decisions?
We have and continue to rally the citizens to seek accountability from the Government. In 2010 we conducted a survey in 2010 on the ratification of AU instruments and Rwanda scored poorly. Soon after the release of this report, we were happy to see the Government ratified the Charter on democracy, elections and governance, one of the recommendations in our report. The Government has since become more proactive on such issues.

What important trends and opportunities exist for the realisation of these standards and human rights instruments?
The Government is keen on the process and has become involved in the coalition. In addition, other CSOs that are not part of the coalition are becoming more responsive towards our work. This has enabled us to share this cause with many stakeholders.

What are you planning to do to make Governments more open towards domestication of the pending relevant treaties?
We are seeking to embrace the Government’s responsiveness towards the domestication of other relevant treaties. With other CSOs, the Government and other stakeholders we will work to popularize domestication and domestication of all the Treaties.

What are the 2-3 key challenges you are facing both internally and externally within the wider context that hinders your work?
Firstly, there is a lack of citizen awareness about the AU Charters and their impact on the lives of the people. This is compounded by the restriction that the Government has placed on the media houses which makes it hard to use any media outlet to sensitive the people. Secondly, some senior Government officials are not sufficiently informed or sensitised about the AU charters.

By the end of 2012, what do you want to have achieved in this area?
We want to make sure that the established consortium is operational and in high gear. We seek to establish with Government an inter-ministerial committee to drive forward the domestication process. Secondly, we will have simplified and translated the key instruments into Kinyarwanda and make them easily understood. Afterwards, we will distribute the simplified version to teachers, churches, women councils and the youth to make sure they reach rural communities.

To find out more about CLADHO’s work email: nkuruflor@gmail.com or visit their website: www.cladho.org

Andrew Osiany

Andrew N. Osiany

Research and Policy Officer – State of the Union Coalition (SOTU)

A political scientist by training, Andrew’s academic bias is in political economy and public administration. His professional experience spans the fields of economic diplomacy (trade), policy governance and advocacy, and human resources management. Andrew leads in the design and implementation of SOTU’s research and policy analysis activities around the African Union (AU) instruments, Policy frameworks, and Standards. He also leads in coordination, identification, and analyses of relevant policy issues of SotU-focus at national and continental levels in selected African countries.