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Banjul, 19 July 2022: IHRDA has concluded a regional training workshop for human rights defenders (HRDs) in Africa on mainstreaming human rights in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agenda.

The workshop that was held from 19-20 July 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya, sought to sensitize African HRDs on the AfCFTA, and build their capacity to advocate for the mainstreaming of human rights, notably economic and social rights, in AfCFTA processes.

“The AfCFTA is a major milestone for regional integration and growth in Africa. However, like most trade agreements, the AfCFTA may not always lead to fair and sustainable outcomes, as the drive for accelerated industrialization, economic growth and economic integration may have consequential effects, especially on human rights. This makes safeguarding human rights within the AfCFTA a sine qua non condition to its success. Thus, it is important to place human rights at the centre of the AfCFTA, to enhance the quality of Africa’s economic growth” – IHRDA Executive Director, Gaye Sowe, observed at the opening of the workshop.

Discussions at the workshop touched on the background and the content of the AfCFTA; the role and stakes for participation of HRDs in AfCFTA processes; business and human rights from an economic and social rights perspective; as well as the human rights concerns and implications in the AfCFTA negotiation and implementation processes, and ways of mainstreaming and protecting human rights in the AfCFTA, including the opportunities for engagement with African human rights mechanisms.

The workshop also offered an opportunity for participants to engage with the toolkit developed by IHRDA for HRDs on human rights mainstreaming in the AfCFTA processes.

The AfCFTA is a nascent agenda demanding substantial amount of civil society engagement, notably human rights defenders, to ensure a human rights-based approach in its implementation.

The workshop falls within the framework of a GIZ-supported project to strengthen human rights mainstreaming in the AfCFTA agenda.