25 Octubre 2022

The Right to Education Initiative (RTE) along with 68 civil society organisations from all over the world welcome the publication yesterday of the landmark General Comment No. 7 on State obligations in the context of private provision of public services by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.  

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. We conributed to the drafting of the General Comment and are proud to have helped shape this seminal text.

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. 

Our Director, Delphine Dorsi, said 'Once again the African Commission paves the way. After being the first human rights body to recognise the Abidjan Principles on the right to education, it now stresses the fundamental role of public services in the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights and provides a framework for the regulation of private actors.'

The 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 full statement here

Watch the recording of the launch here