The Federal Government has commenced a new collaboration with the United Nations systems in Nigeria to prioritise interventions in the area of human rights in the country.
At a dialogue which opened in Abuja on Tuesday, the two parties commenced talks on how to ensure better protection of rights, as well as the implementation of conventions and laws on human rights to which Nigeria is a signatory.
Speaking at the opening, UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said that human rights protection was cardinal to UN’s interventions around the world.
Kallon, who was represented by Peter Hawkins, UNICEF’s Country Representative, said that Nigeria, like many other countries, faced a myriad of human rights challenges that needed to be addressed.
“As Nigeria strives towards a nation that acknowledges the rights of all human beings with strong and effective national protection systems, UN instruments and the mechanisms they have established as well as the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, sets out the agenda for much of the work.
“The Call to Action for human rights, proclaimed in February 2020 by the Secretary General underpinned the centrality of human rights to UN’s work and global peace.
“To effectively address protracted human rights crises around the world, the Call to Action must move beyond words and be expeditiously implemented.
“This initiative today, is a step towards realising, in Nigeria, the dreams captured in the Call to Action for human rights,” he said.
He explained that the consultation with the government would help in streamlining efforts of the UN in advancing human rights.
Kallon specifically pointed out that the two-day dialogue would among others, take stock of UN’s support to the government and national partners, while developing a common understanding of the current trends in human rights.
Kallon pointed out that going forward, the focus would be on establishing a standing mechanism which meets periodically to assess joint engagement on human rights issues in Nigeria.
The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Mr Tony Ojukwu, stressed that a lot of work was required to address human rights concerns in a country as big as Nigeria.
He said that a lot of collaborations like the ongoing one would be required to meet the nation’s human rights demand, while thanking the UN for its effort in that regard.
Ojukwu said that the commission, along with other Nigerians, was awaiting the approval of the draft National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Right which would become the new policy document for rights advancement in Nigeria.
“It is benchmarked on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has an attached implementation strategy which would be printed and distributed to stakeholders.
“The idea of developing the action plan is to have an integrated national strategy for engagement and interventions on the protection of human rights,” he added.