28 April 2023

On 20 April, RTE took part in a webinar jointly organised by the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), The African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA), Centre for Human Rights, Global Initiative for Economic Social and Cultural Rights on General Comment 7 of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights. Delphine Dorsi spoke at the event, focusing her comments and intervention on how to use the General Comment to strengthen CSO advocacy and enhance corporate accountability.

The objective of the webinar was to unpack General Comment 7 on State obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights in the context of private provision of social services, highlighting its main contents and creating awareness among COs and other relevant stakeholders working on the subject. The discussion also served to identify key stakeholders working on reclaiming public services to form a strong continental platform with the aim of designing initiatives towards effective implementation of the General Comment.

General Comment 7 is a landmark text which 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.

In light of decades-long challenges regarding the nature and state of public social service provision and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, General Comment 7 was developed following months of research and debate over the Commission’s jurisprudence, its existing soft-law standards, and recent state practice on the continent. General Comment 7 was adopted in July 2022 and follows previous resolutions by the Commission stamping the critical importance of regulating private actors involved in social service provision. It is a landmark document, emphasising the international consensus 'that social services such as education, food, healthcare, housing, social security water, are not commodities for those who can afford them, but human rights guaranteed to all.’

This standard-setting instrument builds on decisions of the United Nations Special Procedures, decades of African state practice, as well as the Commission’s long-standing jurisprudence, to provide states with clear, and authoritative guidance on their human rights obligations in the context of privatisation. The General Comment is particularly timely, as private actors have assumed a greater role in the provision of the continent’s social services, frequently with no regard for the enjoyment of fundamental human rights.

The webinar is the first in a series of discussions leading to the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA) 10th anniversary, 2023 Conference and General Assembly under the theme ‘Regulating privatisation of social services: Exploring the legal frameworks and policy options from a business and human rights perspective’.

Read the General Comment and our joint statement on it here

Watch the session recording here: