UN Women, in collaboration with the Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum (NGWF), organised a two-day capacity-building workshop on Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) for first-time first ladies from 19 Nigerian states as part of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls.
The workshop aimed to improve the First Ladies’ understanding of gender, gender-based violence, and its psychosocial impact, as well as to explore survivor-centered approaches for intervening in SGBV cases, highlighting the First Ladies’ unique roles in leading efforts to end violence against women and girls in their states.
The workshop which ended on Friday in Abuja, was one of the critical interventions of the joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative which sought to eliminate all forms of violence and harmful practices through women’s movement building to work together, provide support and resources towards addressing the causes and effects of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.
The collaboration between UN Women and NGWF aimed to share best practices and empower First Ladies to take proactive measures against SGBV through advocacy, awareness campaigns, and context-specific initiatives.
These efforts align with ongoing initiatives to end violence against women and girls, including the EU-UN Spotlight Initiatives in states like Adamawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Lagos, and Sokoto.
In her keynote address, UN Women’s Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Beatrice Eyong, commended the Nigeria Governors Wives Forum for their dedicated efforts in eliminating violence against women and girls in Nigeria.
She stressed the need for gender-balanced parliaments and legislations, citing the Gender Equal Opportunities Bill as a valuable instrument in advocating women’s rights.
Ms. Eyong also highlighted UN Women’s achievements with the One-Stop Centres in Sokoto, Ebonyi State, and the Mirabel Centre in Lagos, and called on the first ladies in the states without Sexual Assault and Referral Centre to ensure the establishment of one as their pet projects.
The EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Samuela Isopi, represented by Mr. Ruben Alba, Head of EU Development Cooperation, also emphasised the EU’s commitment to addressing SGBV and announced a new SGBV programme set to begin implementation in 2024.
Prof. Olufolake AbdulRazaq, First Lady of Kwara State and Chair of the Nigeria Governors Wives Forum, noted that providing access to care and support for survivors is a crucial step in ensuring victims and survivors get the best of psychosocial support as this will embolden them toward greater recovery.
The first day of training focused on strengthening the First Ladies’ understanding of power, gender, and their connection to violence experiences, as well as legislation and gaps in addressing GBV, various forms of SGBV, and their psychosocial impact.
The First Ladies were also familiarised with national and international legal frameworks addressing SGBV.
On the second day, the training delved into the core principles of prohibiting SGBV, including the VAPP Act and relevant policies, equipping the First Ladies with knowledge of support mechanisms, interventions, and initiatives related to SGBV.
The training aimed to help the First Ladies identify potential vulnerabilities to SGBV in their states and develop strategies to
prevent and respond to these vulnerabilities.
The capacity-building event represented a significant step in strengthening the commitment of First Ladies across Nigeria to combat SGBV and promote a safer society for all women and girls.
Commonwealth Unveils New Framework For 56 Member States At COP28
The Commonwealth has launched a new implementation framework to facilitate coordinated action among the 56 Commonwealth countries, including African member states, on land, biodiversity, and climate challenges, directly impacting a quarter of the world’s land area.
A statement on Tuesday from the organisation said the latest framework was launched at the ongoing COP28.
The statement read: “The Commonwealth Secretariat unveiled the Living Lands Charter Implementation Framework at a high-level event on 3 December 2023 in Dubai, organised alongside the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).
“The event comes after extensive consultations with Commonwealth countries since the adoption of the Living Lands Charter last year. It offered Commonwealth leaders, ministers, and development partners an opportunity to learn about the framework, share country experiences, and foster collaboration on land issues.”
According to the statement, speakers, including Prime Minister Robert Abela of Malta, and Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), expressed their support for the framework during the event.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, was quoted in the statement to have said:
“Our Commonwealth encompasses a quarter of the world’s land area and is home to a third of the world’s mega-biodiverse countries. More than 400 endemic species are found in our small island states.
“The impact of climate change is increasingly severe across our countries. Food insecurity is increasing. Soil is depleting. The sheer scale of these challenges compels us to lead with bold action.”
She added: “With this implementation framework, we are taking a giant leap forward. It will leverage the combined strength of the Commonwealth through thematic action working groups – learning from each other and spurring one another on towards systems change and a better future for all.”
The statement explained that the framework takes a system-wide approach towards implementing the Living Lands Charter through five thematic action areas: climate-resilient agriculture for food security; soil and water conservation; sustainable green cover and biodiversity; carbon neutral and climate-resilient livestock rearing and animal husbandry; and indigenous and local people for climate-resilient development.
It revealed that countries have stepped forward to lead on priority areas of action. Guyana will champion action on sustainable green cover and biodiversity. Kenya will lead action on climate-resilient agriculture for food security. Malta will spearhead the conservation of soil and water.
It added that within each thematic area, the Commonwealth will offer extensive support to countries to achieve their commitments, stating that this support entails mobilizing resources for implementation, conducting analyses for policymaking, facilitating institutional governance, offering capacity-building assistance, and generating knowledge for member countries.
Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Abela said: “The world is experiencing a triple planetary crisis, addressing climate change, protecting biodiversity, and nurturing ecological restoration of our land has become an urgent priority for all.
“As Commonwealth members, we are here to renew our commitment to work together towards this aim through the Call to Action on Living Lands [Charter]. We hope that our experience inspires Commonwealth countries facing similar tough challenges.”
The implementation framework, according to the statement, has been developed in response to a mandate from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in June 2022.
The Secretariat for the three Rio Conventions welcomed the framework and expressed confidence in its ability to help countries achieve targets set out in the Paris Agreement, the Global Biodiversity Framework, and the UNCCD Strategic Plan for Land Degradation Neutrality.
The statement further revealed that the framework’s launch coincides with the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action.
Release 14 Inmates Detained Since 2018 By Togolese Government, ECOWAS Court Orders
The ECOWAS Court has ordered the Togolese Republic to release without delay M. Adam Latif and 13 other inmates who were arrested in December 2018 amid planned demonstrations and have been detained since then.
The Applicants accused the Togolese Republic of violating their fundamental rights.
In the judgment delivered on November 30 by Justice Ricardo Claúdio Monteiro Gonçalves, judge rapporteur, the Court ordered the payment of 30 million francs CFA to each of the Applicants in compensation for the moral damage suffered due to the violation of their rights.
It held that the Respondent State violated the Applicants’ human right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment as well as their right not to be arbitrarily detained.
However, the West African Court declared the Respondent not responsible for the infringement of the presumption of innocence, as the Applicants’ allegations did not contain any argument consistent with the meaning of the right to the presumption of innocence.
In suit ECW/CCJ/APP/09/22, Adam Latif, along with 13 others, had applied to the Togolese Republic, alleging violations of their rights to physical and mental integrity following their arrests by state security forces.
They asserted infringements of their rights against torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and their rights to the presumption of innocence.
The Applicants had alleged that their arrests occurred amid planned demonstrations in December 2018, spurred by the Togolese authorities’ failure to implement the Global Political Agreement (GPA) – a reformative accord among the ruling party, the opposition, and civil society – and the recommendations of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (CVJR).
Despite the non-occurrence of the demonstrations, they were apprehended, charged, and subsequently inflicted with the alleged acts for confessions. They argued that these incidents, coupled with the extensive pre-trial detention, compromised their presumption of innocence and depicted the judicial system’s utilization for political gains.
The Applicants informed the investigating judge of the alleged violations and stressed that an impartial investigation should have been conducted immediately, as per the United Nations Convention against Torture.
However, he dismissed their reports, and their request for provisional release was systematically rejected, even after interventions of the Court of Appeal.
They told the Court that they sought the intervention of the Minister of Justice and the Head of State to no avail,and that they were held in detention for political reasons.
The 14 detainees prayed ECOWAS Court to order their immediate release and to mandate the Togolese Republic to carry out effective investigations to enable them initiate prosecutions against the alleged perpetrators of the violations. They also asked for 250 million FCFA each in compensation for the endured sufferings resulting from the alleged torture, arbitrary detention, and infringement of their rights to the presumption of innocence.
At its 25 September 2023 session, the Court had dismissed the Togolese Republic’s defense submitted after a year in disregard of article 35 of the Rule of Procedure of the Court which requires that defenses must be lodged within one month after the service of the application.
In its analysis, on the alleged violation of the right to physical and mental integrity and the right not to be subjected to acts of torture or to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, the Court considered that the Respondent failed to fulfill its obligations under Article 1 of the African Charter and Article 2 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to protect the Applicants against abuses resulting from the actions of its agents, since ‘it has not demonstrated that it adopted adequate measures to guarantee an independent and effective investigation into the complaint filed by the Applicants.
Also, in the absence of any evidence presented by the Respondent to justify that the Applicants’ arrests were following national or international law, the Court held that the Respondent violated the apApplicants’ight not to be arbitrarily detained.
Also in the three-member panel were Justices Edward Amoako Asante, Presiding, and Gbéri-bè Ouattara, Member.
UK Commits £100m To Climate Change In Vulnerable Countries
The United Kingdom Government has made commitments to help vulnerable countries strengthen their resilience to the increasingly frequent and severe effects of climate change. The commitment was made at the ongoing COP28 Summit in Dubai, UAE.
According to a statement, International Development and Africa Minister Andrew Mitchell announced £100 million to support some of the most climate-vulnerable countries to tackle climate change.
The statement stated that this will support an initiative to strengthen early warning systems in countries on the front line of climate change, giving people advanced warning of cyclones, flooding, and other extreme weather so they can move away from danger, saving lives and protecting vulnerable communities.
The statement added that the funding will also help make health care in these areas more resilient and able to withstand disasters, like floods, and ready to deal with spikes in infectious diseases, like cholera and malaria, due to floods caused by climate change.
Recognising the urgency of the situation, which forces 26 million into poverty every year, the UK Government also joined calls for bolder collective action to protect the lives, health, and livelihoods of those most impacted by climate change.
This supports the Prime Minister announcing major funding for climate projects and stressing the need for ambitious, innovative and pragmatic action.
International Development and Africa Minister Andrew Mitchell, said: “The devastating effects of climate change hit the most vulnerable the hardest.
“These funding commitments will help countries and people be better prepared and protected against extreme weather events and natural disasters. They will help roll out measures such as early warning systems and open up access to climate finance to build resilient health services.
“The UK will continue to press for a bold and ambitious approach to support those on the frontline of our changing climate, and to create a safer planet for us all.”
On behalf of the UK, Minister Mitchell endorsed the ‘Getting Ahead of Disasters’ Charter, the ‘COP28 Declaration on Relief, Recovery and Peace’, and the ‘COP28 Declaration on Climate and Health’.
Speaking at COP28, he outlined details of the funding package, which includes: Nearly £20 million for a package of disaster risk financing and early warning systems. This will help the one-third of the world’s population who are not covered by early warning systems to prepare for climate shocks and extreme weather, reducing disaster-related mortality and damage. It will also provide affordable insurance against climate disasters, such as droughts.
Funding of £36 million for climate action in the Middle East and North Africa to support long-term climate stability. This will mobilise $500 million for clean energy and green growth projects, support 450,000 people to adapt to climate change, and support 200,000 women in better protecting their families from climate shocks. This delivers on the UK’s commitment to scale up pre-arranged finance for crisis recovery.
Over £4.4 million to improve access to climate finance for Small Island Developing States and enable them to adapt to the impacts of climate change, with support from the Global Environment Facility’s Special Climate Change Fund and the Alliance of Small Island States.
Another £3 million for a new research hub in partnership with Canada, to help local communities address climate shocks and adapt to the long-term impacts of a changing climate. This will be delivered through the Climate Adaptation and Resilience (CLARE) programme, launched by the UK at COP26.
Up to £18 million for an innovative new programme to adapt and strengthen health systems. This will help partner countries manage the growing health impacts of climate change, from infectious diseases and food shortages to water insecurity and other health-related emergencies. It will be the first climate and health programme to be announced by a G7 country.
A further £20 million for a new research programme to guide the UK’s future work on climate-resilient health systems, recognising the fast-evolving agenda and the need for a stronger evidence base of what works to address the growing threats from climate change to health.
A total of £3 million for a new partnership with the International Rescue Committee to reduce the impact of climate-related crises on schools, students and communities. The Climate Resilient Education Systems Trial will build an evidence base of effective approaches to combatting climate change in and through education.
The statement said: At the COP28 Summit on Sunday (3 December), the UK convened experts and thought leaders for a panel discussion on climate security. It was the first time that the UK has hosted such an event, with the US, the EU, Iraq, Kenya, Mali, NATO, and the United Nations Development Programme in attendance. It aims to improve collective understanding of the security implications of climate change, including global instability and conflict while exploring best practices to respond to these risks through data-informed policy making, stress testing, analytical foresight capability, and international cooperation.