Talking Human Rights – 21 Civil Society Organisations, 1 Agenda

Pax Romana conferenceOn the evening of the 19th of April 2014, the Pax Romana conference on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) commenced. It was a five day conference aimed at creating awareness on the current situation in Kenya on five thematic areas: Education, Health, Water and Sanitation, Food security and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The goal was to draft recommendations on these thematic areas for the UPR as Kenya is to be reviewed early in 2015.

On the 20th we began our conference with mass at the Hekima college chapel.

We had many speakers who are experts in these thematic areas, however none of them were from either the national government or the county government. Speakers included: Mr. Kinuthia Wamwangi Chairman of the Independent Constitutional Commission – Transitional Authority, Clarice Oganga of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights in Kenya and Patrick of the Kenya National Commission on the Human Rights, to name a few.

We were divided into the five thematic groups based on our organisations’ area of practice and expertise. Consequently each thematic group critically analyzed the current situation of Kenya The recommendations from each of the groups were reviewed by all delegates and a draft document created. Tasks to the various organisations present were assigned to enhance cooperation, not only for the UPR process, but also for other human rights purposes. Delegates from Tanzania, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Uganda also gave their perspective on the Human Rights situation in their countries. It was an interactive forum where delegates gave recommendations on various issues and numerous debates were raised.

By the 26th of April the amazing journey was coming to an end but it wouldn’t be so without thanksgiving to God. Father Charles Odira celebrated mass with us and left us with one very fitting message-  that we should not be diplomats- we should always tell the truth truthfully.

The conference was informative and an opportunity to appreciate Human Rights from different perspectives and appreciate the similar challenges African countries face. Edmund Rice Advocacy Network (ERAN) was mandated to be rapporteurs for the whole process and also play significant role in lobbying the report to foreign embassies and pursue all avenues to ensure that come February 2015 all the proposed recommendations for Kenya are accepted. I have identified other organizations that ERAN can partner with to further our programmes as well as individual professions who are willing to volunteer for ERAN in special programmes. The follow-up meeting will be held on the 10th of May.

Thanks to Ruth Muigai (ERAN Kenya) for this article

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