69 CSOs welcome landmark General Comment by African Commission on States' obligations to public services

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69 civil society organisations welcome the publication yesterday of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) landmark General Comment detailing States’ obligations with regard to public services, such as education, healthcare and water. This is a major step forward to consolidate the human rights and legal framework, in a context where public services have emerged as one of the critical tools to address the climate, health, food, and inequality crises of the last years.

This is a major step forward to consolidate the human rights legal framework regarding public services, in a context where public services have emerged as one of the critical tools to address the climate, health, food, and inequality crises we are currently facing. 

The General Comment launched by the African Commission provides the most comprehensive analysis and authoritative interpretation of existing human rights law regarding the provision of public services essential for the enjoyment of human rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights.

This General Comment is a resounding response to the growing and well documented human rights concerns that arose from the rapid commercialisation of public services in Africa and around the world in the last decade. Issues of systemic discrimination in access to education or healthcare, corruption, violation of labour rights, and failure to provide public services have been regularly brought to the attention of the African Commission as well as of other human rights bodies in the last years, in countries ranging from Kenya and South Africa, to Italy, Chile, and Nepal. It follows recent developments in the international human rights law framework, such as the African Commission’s Guidelines on the Right to Water in Africa (2019) and the Abidjan Principles on the Right to Education (2019) that similarly emphasise the States’ obligations to publicly provide and fund public services and to effectively regulate any private involvement.  

The undersigned organisations call on African States to implement this General Comment in full and urge other regional human rights bodies and the UN human rights system to emulate this historic development. 


Read the joint statement in English
Read the joint statement in French