Human Rights Day: ITUC-Africa restates commitment to promotion of freedom, equality, justice for all

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By Michael Oche

Amidst increasing cases of human rights abuses, the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) has called for concerted efforts among stakeholders in championing the principles of freedom, equality, and justice for all individuals across the African continent.

In a statement to commemorate this year’s Human Rights Day, ITUC-Africa general secretary, Akhator Joel Odigie said the organisation will not hesitate to call out egregious acts by governments that attempt to impede the rights of their citizens towards the enjoyment of social justice.

While reinstating the committee of ITUC-Africa towards the protection of human rights of all Africans, Odigie said the Organisation is ready to collaborate with progressive actors in fashioning and deploying actions to achieve social justice for all.

“Collective action and solidarity are imperative in addressing the pressing issues of our time, including pandemics, conflicts, escalating inequalities, a flawed global financial system, racism, and the existential threat of climate change,” he said.

“As we commemorate Human Rights Day 2023, ITUC-Africa stands resolutely committed to championing the principles of freedom, equality, and justice for all individuals across the African continent.”

Our Correspondent reports that This year’s Human Rights Day theme, “Freedom, Equality, and Justice for All,” encapsulates the fundamental aspirations of human rights laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations in 1948.

Odigie said regrettably, the noble promise of dignity and equality guaranteed by the UDHR faces mounting challenges, particularly within the African context.

“Despite commendable strides in advancing human rights, the continent continues grappling with hurdles that undermine these fundamental principles,” he said.

Africa is currently confronted by multifaceted challenges that erode the rights and freedoms of its people. The continent bears witness to a distressing trend of diminishing space for human rights, manifested through various socio-economic and political upheavals.

The ITUC-Africa General Secretary noted with concern that the widening gap between the affluent and the impoverished has been exacerbated by the skyrocketing cost of living, worsening inequality and undermining the foundational principles of equality enshrined in the UDHR.

He said, “Moreover, the African working class confronts an intensified onslaught on their rights. The assault on freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, essential pillars in ensuring fair and equitable labour practices, has reached alarming levels.

“This infringement on the rights of workers not only stifles their ability to organise and advocate for better working conditions but also perpetuates a cycle of exploitation and inequality.

“In alignment with the year-long Human Rights 75 initiative, (TUC-Africa remains steadfast in its unwavering commitment to raising awareness about the universality of the UDHR. This initiative aims to galvanise robust activism and concerted efforts to protect and uphold all individuals’ fundamental rights and freedoms in Africa.

“We urgently call upon governments, regional bodies, civil society organisations, and all stakeholders to reinvigorate their dedication to safeguarding human rights on the African continent.”