The Constitution of Malawi is founded on principles that recognise and protect human rights. At the Second World Conference in Vienna, Austria in 1993, Malawi and its fellow United Nations member countries consented to considering the development of an Action Plan by each country to identify steps to protect and promote human rights. It was in this accord that Malawi developed National Human Rights Action Plans (NHRAPs) covering the years 1994-1996 and 2004-2011 and is in the process of developing the 2016-2020 NHRAP.
The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs (MoJCA) and Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) with support from UNDP and Royal Norwegian Embassy then engaged a consultancy team to facilitate the process. Stakeholder involvement was key to ensure inclusiveness and transparency. A steering committee and a technical committee were then formed consisting of members from both government and civil society organisations (CSOs). CFJ was part of the technical committee and participated in the stakeholder orientation meetings, drafting of matrices and district consultations.
The district consultations covered 18 districts across all three regions of Malawi by 6 teams that consisted of 3 members each from MoJCA, MHRC and a CSO. The teams presented the draft NHRAP to District Executive Committee (DEC) members and the district level NGOs for scrutiny and validation. Following these meetings, on December 4th, 2015, the second draft of the NHRAP was presented at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe. Apart from all stakeholders involved, a representative from the UN RCO also attended and emphasized the importance of the National Action Plan as a tool for identifying priority areas in human rights issues. The Solicitor General; Dr. Janet Banda also recognised the event as a major milestone in the process.
The 2016-2020 NHRAP takes into consideration previous NAPs and supports economic, social and cultural rights; civil and political rights; womens’ rights and gender equality; childrens rights; rights of the disabled and other vulnerable groups and business and financial rights. The document was validated with minor changes and is awaiting approval of the steering committee and presentation to Cabinet for launch in March, 2016.