The Reform of the African Union requires a paradigm shift from Member States

The AU of the Heads of States vs the AU of the People


Mandate to Reform the African Union

The 27th African Union Summit in Kigali closed with a commitment to fast track initiatives designed to make the African Union Commission (AUC) financially independent.

African Heads of State also tasked President Paul Kagame to lead a new effort to reform the AU Commission and the Union to make them more efficient.

Welcoming the task, President Kagame said: “I think this is a clear-cut task that has been handed to us and as foot soldiers of our continent we can’t run away from responsibilities, we will be able to do that within our abilities and based on consultations with the Heads of State and Government.” However, the task that President Kagame has committed to is all but an easy one.

Predecessor of the AU, the OAU was expected to serve as an instrument or mechanism for forging unity and solidarity among African states. It was also expected to advance cooperation among countries in order to enhance and promote economic development, improve the quality of life of all Africans, encourage and make possible the peaceful settlement of disputes whilst advancing democracy. Unable to overcome numerous challenges, the OAU, otherwise commonly nicknamed “The Club” was dissolved in 2002 and replaced by the African Union, with a charter supposed to address the weaknesses of the OAU, whilst carrying on its major goals. Mwangi S. Kimeny (2016) reported, “Unfortunately, the AU seems to have inherited the OAU’s approach to the performance of its functions as evidenced by the failure of the organization to effectively and timely spearhead the peaceful resolution of destructive conflicts in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Mali”.[1]

For a number of years now, the AU has been subjected to wide criticism for its inertia, lack of inspiration, authority and weak leadership. The Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2015 and more recently the situation where, in several countries, outgoing Heads of States have manipulated national constitutions in order to extend their stay in power, causing political regression and throwing their countries into near chaos, came to comfort the public distrust towards the continental body’s ability to deliver on its mandates. To make the matter worse the AU has been debilitated by the deep financial crisis caused by the lack of financial contribution by Members States to an Organization surviving on the generosity of foreign Partners. This is compounded by an inadequate management and accountability of resources.

The call for a Reform

Reforming the AU had been an obvious conclusion that Member States had arrived at a decade ago. However, the task is all but a pleasure trip as successive Chairpersons found out. Former President Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali (2003 – 2008) attempting to assert himself in his role only managed to anger his previous fellows. Rumor even has it that he was called to order by his host reminding him that he was no longer a Head of State but an employee. Konare’s successor Jean Ping of Gabon (2008-2012) learning his lesson, did little on the Reform Agenda.

The results of a commissioned consultancy on the AUC reform remained locked in the drawers amidst rumors that drastic proposals would have risen the ire of Members States.

More recently, the current incumbent, South-African Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, elected on the expectation and the promises to deliver the long awaited reform of the Commission, has not been able to lead a similar process any far, as her initiative remained stalled by the AU oversight bodies.

Questions that President Kagame would no doubt have asked himself before committing his precious time to a Reform of the AU are the following: ……

–>> Click here to Read the full article written by Mr Bonaventure M Sodonon, International Management Consultant & Peace & Security Expert.


Governance: Why should the Sahel (and the G5 Sahel) rely on its youth to get better!

Since its creation in February 2014 by five Sahel region countries, namely Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad, the G5 Sahel is gradually materializing. The G5 Sahel or “G5S” is said to be, according to its Permanent Secretary, “an institutional framework for coordination and monitoring of regional cooperation in development and security policies”.

The G5 Sahel Community – Picture (all Copyright reserved to its author)

Although all these countries already belong to different regional communities, the G5 Sahel was easy to unite, due to an existing homogeneity between its peoples and the geostrategic position of the region which is also the nest of Youth radicalization in Africa, and thereby becoming the fertile ground for terrorist activities. Unfortunately, the region offers the facilitation to young West Africans’ migration to Europe via Mediterranean roads; not to mention that the Sahel region is experiencing latent ethnic conflicts and growing insecurity arising from several factors, including the climate change.

With such states’ fragility, looking at issues related to the demographic dividend seems to be a priority in Africa, not only to convert the strength and grip of (especially literate) young people activism for well-being into a force, but also to channel their efforts on a more comprehensive approach towards the management of public affairs at the triple level of governance, namely political, economic and social governance.

When looking for solutions towards better political governance, the guarantee of comprehensive democratic practice, the reality of changeover and transparency in elections, the promotion of the most basic civil and political rights are important subjects that could position youth as the strongest link of the society. As they volunteer, well-trained and engaged youth can help ensure that citizens’ right to vote is respected and secured.

In the area of ​​economic governance, a greater part of the resolution of issues can be devolved to young people who can help find durable solutions to the fight against economic crimes, develop the rural economy, reducing public health spending (for example), while building on their imagination, innovation and creativity.

Coming to social governance, it is possible to succeed in converting young people, who are the major social services beneficiaries, into actors, catalysts and multipliers of initiatives of great social significance, in the sense of a “self-empowerment” that can be duplicated and expanded. To do this, whether they are inside the country or in the Diaspora, youth could facilitate a transfer of competence and values ​​that convey work, patriotism, collaboration, diversity and tolerance between ethnic groups and social classes.

To achieve this, it requires, quite simply, that the young generation today, more than in the past, takes ownership of matters of major importance to the region its belongs to and assumes its responsibilities, as required by Article 26 of the African Charter on Youth. !

It is in this context that, far from big and sporadic forums whose results are yet to come, Zayrah Africa, a Youth-led and Youth-focus development agency, through its regional coordination “Zayrah Sahel”, strives to CONSTANTLY, MONTHLY mobilize young people of the Diaspora of the Sahel region, during the “Saturday of the Sahel”. The goal of this initiative is to increase the participation and contribution of young people to the governance efforts of their respective States and the Sahel community.


For its first edition scheduled for September 30th, 2017 in Dakar at the African Institute of Management (IAM), the “Saturday of the Sahel” will the discuss about: “how to harness the demographic dividend in the Sahel region in order to improve governance “. This will be an open space for debate, followed by proposals, recommendations and above all commitments of the participants to help, even at a micro level, to build better political, economic and social governance in the frame of the Charter African Association of Democracy, Elections and Governance.

At the end of every “Saturday of the Sahel”, which will bring together members of civil society organizations, academics, researchers, media, political and state authorities and youth organizations in the Sahel region and Senegal, recommendations will be shared amongst decision-makers to better capture the demographic dividend in the region in order to enhance its governance.

It is worth recalling that the topic of the discussion falls within the framework of the African Union’s theme of the year 2017, entitled “Harnessing the demographic dividend through investment in youth”.

Zayrah Sahel is a member of the West Civil Society and is based in Senegal. It’s part of the South Africa-based Zayrah Africa, a network present in Mozambique, Tunisia, Benin and Cameroon (through Zayrah Foundation).

For more information, please contact the Zayrah Sahel Coordinator, Mr Michael MATONGBADA, at, tel: +221 77 476 79 46.

This is an unofficial version translated from the French article.

Gouvernance: Pourquoi le Sahel (et le G5 Sahel) doit compter sur sa jeunesse pour mieux se porter!


Depuis sa création en Février 2014 par cinq États du Sahel : Burkina Faso,  Mali, Mauritanie, Niger et Tchad, le G5 Sahel se met progressivement en place. Le G5 Sahel ou « G5S » est dit être : « un cadre institutionnel de coordination et de suivi de la coopération régionale en matière de politiques de développement et de sécurité ».

Bien que tous ces pays appartiennent déjà à des ensembles régionaux différents, le G5 Sahel était facile à réunir, en fonction d’une homogénéité entre ses peuples et la position géostratégique de la région qui se veut être le nid de la radication de la jeunesse africaine favorisant ainsi le développement d’activités terroristes. La région offre malheureusement la facilitation de l’émigration des jeunes ouest africains vers l’Europe, par les routes méditerranéennes, sans oublier que le Sahel connaît des conflits ethniques latents et une insécurité grandissante née de plusieurs facteurs dont la question de la gestion d’eau, causée par les changements climatiques.

Avec une telle fragilité de ses Etats, l’examen des questions liées au dividende démographique semble devenir une priorité en Afrique pour, non seulement convertir la force et la poigne des jeunes (surtout lettrés) dans leur activisme pour un bien-être en une force ouvrière, mais aussi concentrer leurs efforts sur une approche plus globale de la gestion de la chose publique, au triple niveau de la gouvernance étatique: politique, économique et sociale.

Dans la quête des solutions pour une meilleure de gouvernance politique, la garantie de la pratique démocratique dans tout son ensemble, la réalité de l’alternance et de la transparence lors des élections, la promotion des droits civils et politiques les plus basiques sont autant de sujets qui pourraient positionner la jeunesse comme le plus fort maillon et avant-gardiste de la société. Le volontariat d’une jeunesse, si bien formée et engagée, peut aider à s’assurer que le droit de vote de tous les citoyens est respecté et sécurisé.

En matière de gouvernance économique, une plus grande part de la résolution des questions peut être dévolue à la jeunesse qui peut aider à trouver des solutions durables à la lutte contre les crimes économiques, développer l’économie rurale, renforcer l’efficacité de l’administration publique, réduire les dépenses liées à la santé publique (par exemple) tout en se basant sur leur sens d’imagination, d’innovation et de créativité.

Sur le registre de la gouvernance sociale, il est possible de réussir à convertir les jeunes, grands bénéficiaires des services sociaux de l’Etat, en acteurs, catalyseurs et leaders des initiatives de haute portée sociale, dans le sens d’une « auto-autonomisation » pouvant être dupliquée et élargie. Pour ce faire, la jeunesse de chaque Etat, qu’elle se trouve à l’intérieur du pays ou dans la Diaspora, pourrait faciliter un transfert de compétence et de valeurs qui véhiculent le travail, l’amour de la patrie, le sens de la collaboration, de la diversité et de la tolérance entre ethnies, classes et castres sociales.

Pour y arriver, il requiert, tout banalement, que la jeune génération actuelle, mieux que par le passé, s’approprie les questions d’importance majeure pour la région à laquelle elle appartient et prenne ses responsabilités, tel qu’exige l’article 26 de la Charte africaine de la Jeunesse. ! 

C’est dans ce contexte que loin des grands et sporadiques fora dont les résultats font encore attendre, Zayrah Africa, une Agence de développement créée et gérée par des jeunes africains, à travers sa coordination régionale « Zayrah Sahel », a pensé à une mobilisation CONSTANTE, MENSUELLE des jeunes de la Diaspora de la Région du Sahel, au cours des « Samedi du Sahel ». Le simple but de cette initiative est d’accroître durablement la participation et la contribution des jeunes aux efforts de gouvernance de leurs pays respectifs et de la communauté.


Pour sa première édition prévue le 30 de Septembre 2017 à Dakar à l’Institut Africain de Management (IAM), le « Samedi du Sahel » articulera les discussions autour de : « comment tirer profit du dividende démographique dans la région du Sahel pour renforcer sa gouvernance ». Ce sera une conférence – débat  suivie de propositions, de recommandations et surtout d’engagements des participants à aider, même à un niveau micro, à l’édification d’une meilleure gouvernance, tant politique, économique que sociale, au sens de la Charte Africaine de la Démocratie, des Elections et de la Gouvernance.

Ce numéro 1 des « Samedis du Sahel », qui regroupera des membres de la société civile, d’universitaires, de chercheurs, d’autorités politiques et étatiques et d’organisations de jeunesse de la région du Sahel et du Sénégal, permettra de proposer des recommandations pertinentes à l’endroit des décideurs pour une meilleure capture du dividende démographique dans la région afin de renforcer sa gouvernance.

Il faut souligner que ce sujet de discussion entre dans le cadre du thème de l’année 2017 de l’Union africaine, intitulé : « Tirer pleinement profit du dividende démographique en investissant dans la jeunesse ».

Zayrah Sahel est membre de la société civile Ouest et est basée au Sénégal. Il fait partie du réseau de Zayrah Africa basé en Afrique du Sud et présent en au Mozambique, en Tunisie, au Bénin et au Cameroun (à travers Zayrah Foundation).

Pour de plus amples informations, veuillez contacter le Coordonateur de Zayrah Sahel, Monsieur Michael MATONGBADA par email : ou par téléphone : +221 77 476 79 46.

Opportunity: Apply to be an African Union Youth Volunteer in 2018!

Deadline for submission of applications: Monday, 31st July 2017 at Midnight GMT+3

Pour la version française, cliquez ici


The African Union Youth Volunteer Corps (AU-YVC), established in 2010, is a continental development program that promotes youth volunteerism in Africa. The program aims to deepen the status of young people as key actors in Africa’s development targets and goals, enhancing their participation in policy development as well as design and implementation of relevant interventions towards the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063, ‘The Africa we want’. It brings people together to share skills, knowledge, creativity and learning to build a more integrated, prosperous and
peaceful Continent driven by its citizens. The volunteering opportunities are intended to build professionalism and a sense of responsibility among the participants, thus enhancing their employability.

Young African professionals are recruited to serve for a period of 12 months as AU Volunteers in an AU Member State other than their own. The next intake of volunteers for deployment in 2018 will be from the 11th – 31st of July 2017.

Eligibility Criteria:
Applicants have to meet the following criteria:
1. Citizen of an AU Member State living on the continent or the Diaspora;
2. Aged between 18 – 35 years;
3. Have a post-secondary certified qualification(s) (TVET, Bachelor’s degree or
4. Available in 2018 to dedicate 12 (twelve) months for volunteer work;
5. Willing to live and work in another AU Member State;
6. Is proficient in at least one AU working language (Arabic, English, French,
7. Has at least one year verifiable volunteering experience and one year
professional work experience.

Application Process (PLEASE READ CAREFULLY):

Before clicking the apply now button below, please note the following

1. You will need to fill in a form on the next page. This form will help us assess your suitability for the program. Kindly respect the stated word limit. You are advised to type your answers in a Word Processor (such as Microsoft Word) before pasting in the relevant fields.
2. You will also need to add in a motivation letter with a maximum of 750 words. This should be added under the ‘Cover letter’ text box. Please ensure that your motivation letter answers the following:

  • Why you want to become an African Union Youth Volunteer?
  • Why you believe you are the best candidate to be an African Union Youth Volunteer?
  • What is your experience(s) (formal or informal) in youth civic engagement and participation, youth empowerment and/or promoting Pan-Africanism?
  • How has your previous experience(s) prepared you to work in diverse teams and cultures?
  • What change do you expect to see in yourself, the organization that you will be deployed in, and the community that you will be part of after your year of service?

3. Attach a copy of your CV
4. You will ALSO need to attach the following. Please merge these as one PDF document and attach that document. You might choose to use a service such as to do this.

  • A copy of the identity page in your passport or national identity card
  • Highest post-secondary certified qualification(s)
  • Signed Letter of Recommendation verifying your volunteer experience(s)

5. Deadline for submission of applications is Monday, 31st July 2017 at Midnight GMT+3

Please note:

  1. Incomplete and late applications will not be considered
  2. Only shortlisted candidates will be notified
  3. Candidates who had applied in previous years are and still meet the eligibility criteria are encourage to re-apply

Recruitment Process & Key Dates

  1. 1st August – eligibility Check;
  2. 14th August: Successful applicants will be notified;
  3. September 2017: Pre-deployment training;
  4. 2018: Deployment of trained volunteers.

Click here to read the full announcement

Apply Now:

Volunteer Entitlements:
For the successful candidates, the African Union Commission and its partners will
cover the full costs of their pre-deployment training.
On deployment, African Union Youth Volunteers receive the following:
1. Economy return air ticket from home town to place of deployment
2. A modest monthly stipend
3. Health insurance cover
4. Separation allowance upon successful completion of twelve months service

More Information:
For more information/queries, please contact Ms Prudence Ngwenya (Head of Human
Resources and Youth Development Division); or Mr Daniel Adugna (AU Youth
Program Officer) on
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The Problem with the Right to Education

Approaching the human rights framework from a developing nation’s perspective on education – by Gilbert Mitullah


First things first: The fact that I describe myself as an education lawyer might make this post seem counterintuitive. After all, here I am criticizing a framework that I have spent my entire life working on. Since my life’s work has been spent on human rights, especially the human right to education, I technically should be trying to justify the effectuality of the source of my day’s pay — and yet, doing so would be grossly insincere. The right to education is not necessarily playing an effectual role in cultivating an accessible and all-inclusive form of education. In this article, I’d like to put on view the precise reasons as to why this argument stands, while also proposing solutions to the complications touched upon.

The human rights approach to education, through the right to education finds its roots in Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)[1] which came into play in 1948. Since then, the concept of the right to education as a legal, moral and normative right has been expanded over time and has gained interpretation in various contexts across the globe. The right to education has consequently been exposed to numerous challenges that expose the cracks in its conception, implementation and potential for impact in causing transformation.

On account of this, I would like to present some of the challenges that I would pose to the concept of a right to education, and what this means for an educator or a policy maker, and not a lawyer or an activist. The view I want to present is the inadequacy of the right to education to address actual education challenges at the “point of implementation,” which is the policy making table, for the school owner or leader or the classroom where students are learning. These challenges may not change the implementation of the right to education framework, but should at the least demonstrate spaces where other frameworks could be implemented, for example the capabilities approach in taking advantage of and expanding the right to education as enacted.

It should be noted that the right to education may not have universal homogenous implementation, as not all countries experience this right in the same way, and others, not being parties to any treaties enforcing the right to education do not experience it at all. That notwithstanding, the ideas behind the right to education could be implemented as a moral or normative concept.

One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,

One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien

The first challenge to the right to education, as a concept for education, which is expressed as an imperative in the UDHR and attendant treaties[2]is that it is based on rules, set more than 60 years ago. It has since been governing international law and international relations and their attendant consequences, including financing. These rules are then purportedly progressively interpreted and implemented across all States

The question of participation in the development of these treaties, and the system for its enforcement means that the terms of these treaties are steeped in anticipatory conflict from the very beginning, and do not offer a scenario for inclusive of the best opportunities for education. The power dynamics surrounding the acceptance of the UDHR by the UN General Assembly, where imperatives are received from above in a vertical hierarchical sense, and the mandatory terms it is steeped in, particularly in the context of developing countries many of whom were still under the shackles of colonialism when it was negotiated, and the subsequent enforcement of these rights challenges its legitimacy.

The concern is that not everybody had a say in the rules that they have had to live by for the past 60 years, and worse yet, a cultural context was not infused then. The first counter argument received on this view is that the States that are parties to these treaties acquiesced to them, so they are not being forced into it. This may not necessarily be true though, given that financing for any projects in these nations is based on such treaties. The question of aid dependency and neocolonialism since the 1960s has already been flogged and flayed and will not be addressed here, but the argument on acquiescence and its link to aid dependency cannot be overlooked.

An associated issue to this hierarchical implementation and enforcement of the human rights framework is the ambiguity it comes cloaked in. It doesn’t give exact ideas on what it means to have a right to education, and although many subsequent protocols and comments have been promulgated or given by UN Committees, what this specifically means at the “point of implementation|” is left open to interpretation, and mostly by the courts. This ambiguity was left in because of the lobbying surrounding various interests represented when crafting the rights, but has not been very helpful in explaining what it means to have these rights in so far as they are meant to be useful in improving lives and livelihoods.

Many a time it has been asked by people, “I have a right to education, so what? Can I take it to a bookshop and get textbooks? Can I take it to a school and receive admission for my child? What does this right mean?” More importantly, does the human rights approach give a sense of justice, even if it may not offer justice? Do the possessors of the rights have a sense of actually having the right?

Another issue that might occur under this framework is the amendment to accommodate emerging issues and the question of adaptability. How easy is it to get out of the treaties a State has already ratified? How easy is it for nation States to come together to actually amend these treaties?

The amount of political will and effort it would take to actually agree to changes in already ratified treaties is so great as seen from the recent Paris Climate Agreements that incorporate work that has been negotiated since Stockholm in 1972 and Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It is not easy to get in or out of these treaties, for obvious reasons, but what does this mean for increasingly changing circumstances in the context of education?

Likewise, the enforcement mechanisms of the UN, which include warnings, sanctions and calls for action would never work in the context of education. The human capital approach has ensured that each nation is interested in investing in education for development, but not interested enough to educate all people equally for their own individual benefits. There is no practical way in which an international right to education can be enforced unless domesticated, and even then, it depends on who and where this right has been infringed on for it to be implemented.

Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light;
I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

The Cloths of Heaven by W. B. Yeats

The second challenge, which seeks to remedy the first, but fails the framework as well, is that the human rights framework struggles with the realities of capacity, policy and politics that pepper the government’s work in every State on a daily basis. Most developing nations don’t have the capacity for implementing some of the imperatives they have acquiesced to and so have to constantly come up with strategies to cope, and even then, still cannot honour them. In international and domestic law around the right to education, the right is variously phrased, but the end is the same — in the sense that it gives the government obligations that must be achieved either presently or progressively.

A potent example is in the scenario of Low Fee Private Schools that are mushrooming in many countries like India, Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. Research already demonstrates that it is the perceived failing public schools that are pushing more and more parents to these so called “private schools for the poor” where these schools have sprouted, discounting the presence of commercial school chains that fall in this category. It is clear that the governments are struggling to keep up with the pressures of growing populations and the consequent growing obligations without the right finances and personnel, whether its quality assurance and standards staff or teachers. In this space, the private sector has responded to cover for the areas the government struggles.

That notwithstanding, the human rights framework, and those who are constantly monitoring its enforcement and implementation insist that the State must provide free public basic education as is the aspiration of Jomtien 1990 and Dakar 2000 and that it cannot delegate this role to others, especially in this context of Low Fee Private School.

But what can governments do? Where they lack the capacity, they throw their hands in the air and say they have done their best, and anyone who says differently can move to court where the government will repeat the same words and the court cannot compel them to do more than their best. States like Pakistan have insisted that they have the duty to adhere to the right to education, but it cannot be dictated to them how to do this and so have allowed for Public Private Partnerships and a greater space for private providers of education to thrive.

Some arguments could be made on just how strictly this approach could be taken and what it means for law, but for the majority of interpreters of these treaties with an enforcement and conflict approach, the hard-line on who gets to play in the education field is very clear.

Don’t leave me in all this pain
Don’t leave me out in the rain
Come back and bring back my smile
Come and take these tears away
I need your arms to hold me now
The nights are so unkind
Bring back those nights when I held you beside me

Unbreak my Heart, Toni Braxton

A third challenge that I pose to the human rights framework, and particularly the terms and language it is soaked in, is that it gives only the government agency as a duty holder, and that any other person in the discourse is either a right holder or non-existent. The fact that human rights are considered innate natural rights makes this scenario even more intriguing.

The right to education is given, not possessed, and so is futile in so far as the giver is unwilling to participate. Understandably, this nuanced approach was important because it is States that are party to treaties and other parties who participate in treaty making only determine what gets into the treaty but not what happens subsequent to its ratification. It is an ambitious goal to not only compel various governments of a particular State to honour treaties that they never ratified themselves, but that in the face of their own political agendas and with the power they have newly won, or taken or otherwise acquired, they must now go about the work of implementing global treaties. Given the international structures around financing for developing countries, diplomacy, development and other such platitudes will compel them to acquiesce, but not as willing partners but rather as prisoners of circumstances.

Under such circumstances, would it really be possible to claim that these governments will do their best? Sometimes it is the governments that are the aggressors on these rights, and there is no recourse against them. Whether this is because these governments are dictatorial or corrupt, too poor to care or too encumbered with different priorities to bother, there are many reasons why the governments would not honour these obligations as envisioned. In this sense, the human rights framework for accessing education is challenged by those who are the main actors in the discourse.

This may be remedied through the courts, as is often the case, but the courts can only offer so many solutions. Some have argued for a minimalist approach to socio-economic rights that ensures the bare minimum of the right to education is implemented, but accessing justice for the poorest people is a whole other ball game, the subject of scores of theses and dissertations around the world.

Furthermore, there is only a certain level to which remedies from the courts are effective. In Kenya, for example, the Constitutional court has repeatedly stated that its orders cannot go into determining government policy but will work to enforce the law to the best of their ability. In the case of exorbitant school fees at the Kenya School of Law, an institution that has been beleaguered with numerous constitutional cases surrounding the high school fees it charges, the courts have held severally that although prospective students of the school have a right to education, it is not impeded by the school fees and that the courts cannot issue orders on school fees because it is judicial policy to refrain from orders that work in vain and whose compliance is near impossible. In this way, the duty bearer and right holder approach does not offer complete solutions for education, and would not be able to handle complex issue that are better suited for negotiation, progressive planning and community engagement. The human rights framework fails on this account.

The other issue with the duty bearer and right holder nexus, is that solutions sometimes do come from outside this discourse, which are then challenging to implement without the State, and in other instances, challenges to the right to education come from outside the same nexus, and the right holders then have a problem in bringing charges against the transgressors.

Would it be possible to sue a private institution for infringing on your right to education? What happens where the right to education is infringed on by a government independent contractor, as might happen with charter schools and similar models?

These weaknesses with the human rights framework, especially from a systemic point of view must be addressed satisfactorily and not just for those with information, money and power, but also for the poorest of the poor, who would not know where or how to start.

…Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

Refugees by Brian Bilston

A final criticism and thought on the human rights framework is that it may not cater to migrant populations, refugees and immigrants in States. The strength of the human rights approach is on dealing with States and keeping States accountable. States themselves owe allegiance to their citizens who pay taxes and participate in economic, social and political progress. That notwithstanding, we are now living in a world where millions of people are fleeing their homes because of war, disaster, economic turmoil and other challenges, to preserve their lives or in search of better opportunities. These people have no rights where they go, except as refugees and asylum seekers. Even then, the supposed innate human rights mean nothing for them, much less the right to education. The States themselves reject their existence, let alone the presence or possession of rights, and as such these people have no recourse. They die in the seas in their flight to safe havens — and when they get there, they die on the land, albeit slowly. In this sense, all the moral platitudes that could be stated, overstated and pronounced could not help refugees enforce a right in the courts.

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

Winston Churchill

Having attempted to make a case for the weakness of the human rights framework, where does the road lead? I would wager that there are numerous solutions that could be presented.

To make it clear, a system with weaknesses doesn’t make it bad, it only makes it incomplete. I would argue that Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum’s Capabilities Approach could be a good way to operationalise a human rights framework if implemented together. How this would be done is the subject of another article, but the possibility of joining these two concepts to work together still stands. In the context of developing countries, where the human rights language and framework is being implemented, a partnership with the capabilities approach would prove useful in the sense that it would try to complete a picture half painted, for the prosperity and wellbeing of all people, both rich and poor.

There may be many other solutions to this challenge, but that would be a good place to start. The point here is that we cannot give up in fighting for a fairer, more equal world, where the possibilities for future generations are secured and the prospects of the present ones are sure. As Churchill puts it: “We shall never surrender.”

[1] Article 26 of the UDHR states that, “Everyone has the right to education”.

[2] These include the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960), International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (1966), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (1987), Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their families (1990), Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) among others.


African Charter On The Rights And Welfare Of The Child Preamble. Retrieved from

Aubry, S., & Dorsi, D. (2016). Towards a human rights framework to advance the debate on the role of private actors in education. Oxford Review of Education42(5), 612–628.

Badiou, A. Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil. London: Verso

Davis, D. M. (2008). Socioeconomic rights: Do they deliver the goods? I@BULLETCON6(4), 687–711.

Hart, H. L. A. 1955. Are there any natural rights? The Philosophical Review 65:175–91.

Nations, U. (n.d.). The universal declaration of Human Rights | United Nations. Retrieved from

O’Connor, T. (2014). Debating Human Rights — universal or relative to culture? | Retrieved July 2, 2017, from

Posner, E. (2014). The case against human rights | Eric Posner | News | The Guardian. Retrieved July 2, 2017, from

Rights-Hakijamii, E. and S., Cradle, T. C. F., East African Centre for Human Rights, (KNUT), K. N. U. of T., & The Global Initiative for Economic, S. and C. R. (2016). The United Nation raises alarm about the lack of regulation in the education sector and sub-standard schools funded by development aid in Kenya. Retrieved from — Final Press Release CRC private education Kenya.pdf

Robeyns, I. (2006). Three Models of Education : Rights, Capabilities and Human Capital. Theory and Research in Education4(1), 69–84.

Sen, A. (2004). Elements of a theory of human rights. Philosophy and Public Affairs32(4), 315–356.

UNICEF. (2007). A Human Rights-Based Approach to EDUCATION FOR ALL. Retrieved from

Unterhalter, E., Vaughan, R., & Walker, M. (2013). The Capability Approach and Education. Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling53(9), 1689–1699.

Young, K. G. (2008). Minimum Core of Economic and Social Rights: A Concept in Search of Content, The. Yale J. Int’l Law.33(3), 113.

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Apply: #Africa112 Summit in Harare, Zimbabwe


#Africa112 aims at supporting social- economic initiatives aimed at wealth and job creation, targeting young woman and men with limited opportunities for economic empowerment including affordable innovations.

The conversation, powered by Core Foundation Africa will hold on 27 & 28th July 2017 at HICC, Harare (Zimbabwe) under the theme: “The Future of Africa, Her Youth and Women.

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AU-FLAGPursuant to the African Union Assembly Decision n°: Assembly/AU/Dec.277 (XVI) and EX.CL/Dec.539 (XVI) on the launching of African Women’s Decade (AWD) and the Fund for African Women, the AU is pleased to announce the call for the submission of project proposals under theme n°10 of the African Women Decade namely “mentoring youth (women and men) to be champions of gender equality and women’s empowerment” which content is as follows: “Energizing the African Women’s movement, and mentoring young women and men leaders and professionals, both in Africa and the Diaspora to be champions on Gender Equality and women’s empowerment”.

The implementation of the Decade themes is within the context of the integration of NEPAD into the African Union Structures and in line with Assembly Decision n° Assembly/AU/Dec.333 (XVI) to consolidate gains so far made and to achieve coherence. It also reaffirms African Women’s Decade to be the overall implementation framework for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) and the Fund for African Women’s Decade to be the vehicle for mobilizing resources in line with the Executive Council Decision EX.CL.Dec.539(XVI)(4) and calls for Development Partners support.

By this call, the Commission hereby invites members States and stakeholders to submit their project proposals on the Theme: “mentoring youth (women and men) to be champions of gender equality and women’s empowerment”. This Theme n°10 of the African Women’s Decade is seriously taken into consideration by the African Union Commission and is scheduled to be discussed at the 2017 AU Summit under the theme’ “Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in the Youth”.

Agenda 2063 has also given an important place to young women and men and according to its Aspiration 6, the Africa Union Commission aspires by 2063 to: “an Africa where development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African People, especially its women and youth…” This clearly shows the will and commitment of the African development actors to lay emphasis on Young women and men. This inclusive and people-centered approach can only be reached by empowering, mentoring and championing the young component of the African population. Agenda 2063 is Africa’s vision and roadmap for the fulfilment of Africa endogenous plan of transformation. Therefore, there is a need for African youth to be mentored accordingly.

The Fund will benefit young women and girls through grassroots initiatives, developed by:

  1. African Union member States;
  2. African Civil Society Organizations working on mentoring youth (women and men) to be champions of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  3. Youth groups

Proposals will be funded for one year with a ceiling up to thirty thousand dollars ($30,000).

1-Criteria for the selection of project under the “mentoring youth (women and men) to be champions of gender equality and women’s empowerment” Theme:

The projects should be based on the African Union Agenda 2063. The Agenda works for a Shared Strategic Framework for Inclusive change for a better Sustainable Development, gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The project or programme should contribute to any of the following:

  1. Create environment where the African and Diaspora young women’s movement will find a platform to interact and bring paramount and valuable changes to the women condition in Africa;
  2. Sensitize and train youth about the drawbacks and consequences of exclusion, on the fact that no woman or man will be left behind or excluded, on the basis of gender;
  3. Demonstrate its commitment as People-centred and training youth about gender equality and Women’s empowerment.
  4. Engage and empower youth to be gender-sensitive in their approach for decision making, while targeting sustainable development;
  5. Boost African women’s incentives to create movements and initiatives aiming at fully empowering young women in all spheres, and promoting their social, political and economic rights, including the rights to own and inherit property, sign contracts, register and manage businesses, and accessing leadership positions;
  6. Organize the mentorship and championship activities for young rural women and men and create movements or cooperatives that will raise awareness on their rights; and help them have access to productive assets, including land, credit, inputs and financial services.

2- In addition to the above mentioned criteria, the selected projects should:

a) Set key mentoring and championing priorities at continental level, to accelerate gender equality and women’s empowerment according to Agenda 2063 vision which expects full gender parity, with women occupying at least 50% of elected public offices at all levels and half of managerial positions in the public and the private sector;

b) Promote the adoption of policies that ensure that the youth of Africa is socially, economically and politically empowered with full implementation of the African Youth Charter and subsequent Decade Plan of Action;

c) Work for the elimination of all forms of systemic inequalities, exploitation, marginalization and discrimination of young people and mainstream youth issues in all development agendas;

d) Lobby for the elimination of Youth unemployment in Africa, while guaranteeing their full access to education, training, skills and technology, to health services, jobs and economic opportunities, recreational and cultural activities as well as financial means and all necessary resources to allow them to realize their full potential;

e) Train, monitor and champion Young African women and men to be the path breakers of the African knowledge society and contribute significantly to innovation and entrepreneurship;

f) Guide Africa’s youth and strengthen their knowledge into creativity, energy and innovation for them to become the driving force behind the continent’s political, social, cultural and economic transformation;

g) Be committed to sensitize and advocate to increase access to Sexual Reproductive Health Services and Rights (SRHR) for young people in Africa;

h) Capitalize on regional youth consultations for a better understanding and ownership of Agenda 2063; i) Promote Young People’s Rights, particularly young women’s rights Towards the Attainment of Agenda 2063’,

j) Create a platform for aggregating youth concerns such as migration, employment and mobility, inclusion, diversity management and popular participation;

k) Train Young people to be active actors in governance.

Mode of application

  1. Submission of a brief and schematic Concept Note in line with the application characteristics provided (attached). The Concept Note should be in summary form to facilitate technical evaluation and provisional approval or rejection by the Steering committee. It should not exceed one page;
  1. Submission of a more detailed, well formulated project proposal, in accordance with the format provided (attached), which meets key operational, technical and procedural requirements required for the final evaluation of the proposal.

The application should include the following information:

  1. A one page synthesis of the Concept Note (attached), as follows:
  • Basic data (project name, management details, duration, geographical location, context and rationale of the project);
  • Description of the project (purpose, goals and objectives, expected outcomes, activities, indicators, beneficiaries, entities and partners);
  • A brief presentation of the implementing agency: 1) governance structures, financial management, monitoring and evaluation, and sustainability plans;
  • Names and contact details (telephone numbers, email, etc.) of signatories.
  1. Detailed project proposal: Refer to attached outline
  1. A page containing:
  • The detailed budget in dollars (US$) and equipment (available and required). Distribution: 50% for equipment, and 50% for training and general expenses. The Fund for African Women does not cover salaries.
  • Bank details of the organization;

All applications should include a letter of recommendation from national Coordination Committees or Ministries responsible for Gender and women’s Affairs. NGO’s and CSO’s, should provide a copy of the Letter of Information sent to your Ministry of women Affairs. All hard copies of applications should be sent through the respective Embassies of Member States in Ethiopia, with electronic copies submitted directly to the Commission, addressed to the Director- Women, Gender and Development Directorate, AU commission Fund for African Women, by April 15, 2017.

Kindly note that the commission will only accept proposals that adhere to the indicated theme.

This announcement will be posted on the AUC website

The detailed format in which concept notes should be submitted is available on the website in English, French, Portuguese and Arabic.

Member States and grassroots organizations with the requisite capacity, experience in networking with women’s groups, community cooperatives, the informal sector, and addressing gender inequality are encouraged to apply.

For further information or clarifications, please contact Mrs. Mahawa Kaba Wheeler, Director- Women, Gender and Development Directorate (WGDD), Tel: +251 11 518 21 12 – email:; Mr. Adoumtar Noubatour, Senior Programme Officer, Tel: +251 11 518 21 11- email: ; Mrs Fiorella De Pede, email : Tel.: +251115182115.

CLICK HERE to get all necessary documents: African Union Website