The United Nations (UN) has said Nigeria is not the only country facing myriad human rights challenges.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja at a programme, titled, “UN and Partners Dialogue on Human Rights Priorities in Nigeria,” the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon said, “Like other countries, Nigeria faces myriad human rights challenges. 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 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 sets the agenda for much of the work.”

The programme, the first of its kind, is an initiative of the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Women.

Kallon, who was represented by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said, “Through this consultation, we aim to reach a common understanding between the Government, human rights partners, civil society, and the UN on human rights priorities in Nigeria.”

As part of efforts made by Nigeria to ensure respect of human rights, Kalli said, “Nigeria has ratified the nine core UN human rights treaties, including other regional instruments. The Nigerian Constitution has elaborate provisions on the protection of human rights.

“In the last five years, Nigeria has been reviewed by three treaties bodies, namely, the Human Rights Committee, Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Committee of the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

“Since 2014, the country has hosted eight special procedures mandate holders. Nigeria has been reviewed thrice under the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council (UPR) namely in 2009, 2013 and 2018. During its third UPR process, Nigeria received 290 recommendations out of which it supported 240.

“The supported recommendations relate to legal and general framework of implementation, universal and cross-cutting issues, civil and political rights, economic, social, and cultural rights, women’s rights, and rights of other vulnerable groups and persons.”

He also revealed that most of the 290 recommendations related to SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 1 (no poverty) and SDG 4 (quality education).

Kallon said to effectively address protracted human rights crises around the world, the Call to Action must move beyond words and be expeditiously implemented, noting, “This initiative today, is a step towards realising, in Nigeria, the dreams captured in the Call to Action for human rights.”

He added that already several UN agencies, funds and programmes are supporting various human rights initiatives in the country, while stressing, “This consultation with Government and national partners will aim to streamline these efforts and achieve coherence, building the necessary momentum for results.”

In his remarks, Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, said, “This kind of dialogue, though long overdue, could not have come at a better time. This is because the country continues to face numerous human rights challenges in the face of activities of both state and non-state actors and we must, as a people, think outside the box for viable solutions out of this conundrum.”

He said it was important for all of stakeholders to reflect deeply on the human rights situation in Nigeria with a view to drawing up a priority plan that could effectively engage the human rights challenges of the country.

Ojukwu said, “As a necessary stakeholders, the UN, MDAs and CSOs should be very interested in a priority plan that could result from a dialogue like this.”

He recalled that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria in 1993 requested that, “Each State considers the desirability of drawing up a national action plan identifying steps whereby the State would improve the protection and promotion of human rights.”

Ojukwu added, “On its own part, the Commission has developed a strategic work plan to effectively and successfully discharge its mandate for promotion and protection of human rights of Nigerians. It has established offices across all 36 states to increase access to Nigerians.

“Addressing human rights issues for a huge country like Nigeria requires collaborative approach. The Commission has also coordinated the development of the current draft NAP Document on human rights.

“The Commission has fully collaborated with all CSOs and Development partners who have extended the hand of partnership to it. I am happy to say that the participants across this room are all key partners of the Commission and we cherish our partnerships with you all.”

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