‘AfCFTA can only be successful if there is seamless movement of people’
By Cherno Omar Bobb
Dr. Elasto Hilarious Mugwadi, the chairperson for the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), has said that Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) can only be successful if there is seamless movement of people, goods and services.
Dr. Mugwadi made these remarks on Wednesday at Sir Dawda KairabaJawara International Conference Center during a press conference on the sidelines of the 5th National Human Right Institutions forum of the 73rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The 2-day forum was organised by Network of African National Human Rights Institutions, the National Human Rights Commission of the Gambia, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The theme for the forum was: “Trade and human rights in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement: inclusive implementation of the AfCFTA with participation of vulnerable populations.”
He said free movement of people across the continent remains on paper where legal frameworks have been put in place. He noted that the current regimes of national protectionist policies will substantively and negatively impede trade under this pact.
“We can only trade in an integrated Africa where every country is home for everyone. We cannot trade with each other when our laws consider us foreigners to one another,” he stated.
He added that while the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and other national and international instruments can be applied, there is no specific continental binding instrument to secure human rights under the framework of AfCFTA.
He noted that for these reasons, there is a risk of leaving behind women, youth and people living with disabilities, migrant workers, small holder farmers and small and medium enterprises and other vulnerable groups.
He also stated that while adoption and ratification of the AfCFTA is a positive progress towards achieving an integrated market on the continent for over 1.3 billion people, they are gravely concerned that national negotiations and implementation plans have continued to exclude key human rights actors.
Meanwhile, while zeroing in on the impact of AfCFTA on vulnerable groups, the discussions would culminate in the adoption of a resolution which would be shared with the African Commission for consideration.
The resolution will also seek to point out practical ways of collaboration between NHRIs and other human rights actors in mainstreaming of human rights in the implementation of the AfCFTA.