We are here because you destroy our countries – the struggle for justice, equality and freedom of movement in Africa (Human Rights Activism)

P09 – We are here because you destroy our countries – the struggle for justice, equality and freedom of movement in Africa (Human Rights Activism)

Dieter Alexander Behr . University of Vienna
Emmanuel Mbolela

Emmanuel Mbolela and Alexander Behr are activists in the network Afrique Europe Interact (AEI). Mbolela was a youth opposition leader in the Democatic Republic of Congo, was imprisoned and had to flee the country in 2002. He migrated trough various subsaharian Countries and the Desert until he arrived in Morocco, where he co-founded one of the first Sans-Papiers Groups in the country. After four years, he was accepted in a resettlement programme of the UNHCR and now lives in the Netherlands. Mbolela wrote a remarkable political autobiography called “My way from Congo to Europe: between resistance, flight and exile”. Alexander Behr translated his book from french to german; he is also his translator into english. In their network Afrique Europe Interact, Mbolela and Behr fight for freedom of movement and for an end to neocolonial exploitation on the African continent. AEI consists of about hundred active members in Holland, Germany, Austria, Morocco, the DRC, Mali, Burkina Faso and Togo. Mbolela and Behr are going to talk about their experience in transnational grassroot activities with AEI. They organise direct action for the freedom of movement at borders, help peasants struggle against landgrabbing and hold lectures and panels at universities and schools in various countries. Mbolelas book plays a key role in this work and will be a part of the input in the panel. Mbolela and Behr will also talk about an alternative alarm phone that was created in order to help saving migrants who got in distress in the mediterranean sea. The panel is aimed to discuss further strategies for social movements on the african and the european continent with all participants.


The apartheid was a basis of the government’s policy of South Africa since 1948, fixative the power of the white minority, based on the segregation and discrimination of black, colored and Asian people, stored in state laws. In 1976 the authorities of South Africa modified the policy of apartheid, moving away from its basic assumptions and eliminating manifestations of segregation and racial discrimination; However, this did not mean the liquidation of the system of apartheid. In the presidency of F.W. de Klerk (1989-1994) began the process of the fall of the apartheid system and its replacement for a system of parliamentary democracy, respecting the rights of all living in South Africa’s racial groups. In 1995 South African government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commision to uncover the truth about human rights violations, which were commited during the apartheid’s period. It is estimated that in years 1948-1994 21 000 people were killed and 2000 others were forced dissappeared, the faith of most of them is still not known. The families of victims are pending the lawsuits against the torturers and murderers of the apartheid regime. More than 19,000 injured require financial compensation from the authorities for the damages, made to them in the days of apartheid. The South African museums and memory sites, like the Sol Plaatje Museum and Library, the Museum of Apartheid, the Freedom Park or the Liliesleaf Farm, document the events of the years 1948-1994 and show, how the country is dealing with its difficult past.

Karolina Baraniak . University of Wrocław . karolina.baraniak@onet.pl

This research focuses on the current situation of human right defenders and activists in Kenya. It goes back from to the Independency and the creation of the Republic of Kenya in 1963. It draws on participant observation and in depth interviews with activists of twelve different social movements. All of them took place in Nairobi, tough their activism was not circumscribed to the capital. The study discusses the tensions that these activists face by focusing their struggles on human rights in a continent in which what these mean is subject to debate. The non-full acceptancy of human rights tends to be sustained in two main ways: on the one hand, the concept of Human Rights, and the ways to develop it, are said to come from the Global North, without paying attention to cultural specific contexts, making it easy to interpret the whole frame as an Imperialist trap that aims at destroying non Western cultures. On the other hand, the government implies precisely the argument that Human Rights are not African to evade applying them. This, nonetheless, seems paradoxical in a country fully integrated in Capitalism -an economic system which is also not African. Nonetheless, these activists claim and show how Human Rights are contemplated in African Tradition, even if framed in other ways, as a way to ensure the harmony in their societies.From there, activist claim regret that both governmental and social stratum seems to have accepted the individualist aspects of economic rights and not the social and political rights. Thus, the conflict around human rights is not seen as a cultural one, but rather a strategy to maintain power in the same hands, leaving women and minorities (by origin, ethnic, sexual and abilities) out of the decision making processes.


Ruth Caravantes Vidriales . Tangaza University College of Nairobi (Kenya) . ruthcaravantes@gmail.com

This Paper examines the concept of Women’s Situation Room as a model of peace building initiative carried out by women. The purpose of this paper is to build a bridge between theoretical and contextual debates around Women Peace and Security and the cultural translation  within different context. I first give an overview of the United Nations Security Council Resolution as a tool for women’s creative and substantive participation in conflict resolution and peace building. Second , I discuss the success, opportunities,weakness and challenges of the Women Situation Room Nigeria as a case study. Finally I explore avenues for the institutionalization of Women Peace and Security through Women Situation Room.

Joy Onyesoh . WILPF Nigeria . dzoious@yahoo.com

The right to development (RTD) is the most controversial human rights of our time. Questions on the nature, content, duty bears, rights holders, justiciability and binding nature of the RTD have fueled the controversy amongst scholars and diplomats. Even in Africa where the RTD is binding, states do not agreed on the content and nature of the RTD. This disagreement can be observed in the state reports to the African Commission on measures taken to give effect to the RTD. In these reports, the RTD is either presented as a right to culture or right to land or various other items. Yet in recent time, as a result of civil society activism and advocacy, the RTD had been given a meaning and its nature had been clarified by the African Commission. The latter underlines the multifaceted of the RTD which comprises elements of non-discrimination, participation, accountability, transparency, equity and choices as well as capabilities. The aim of this paper is to explore the role of civil society in giving a meaning to the RTD in Africa and beyond. To this end, the paper explores how significant was the involvement of civil society organisations in cases which shaped the RTD. As part of assessing the significance of civil society’s action in shaping and furthering the RTD, the paper will examine the extent to which civil society organisations have led RTD litigations, the outcome of these litigations and the impact they have on the RTD discourse in Africa and beyond.  In this enquiry, the paper relies on the jurisprudence of African the Commission on the RTD. Ultimately, it concludes that civil society action had been essential in shaping and furthering the RTD.


Sergei Djoyou Kamga . Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, University of South Africa . dkamgsa@unisa.ac.za

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