The 1st Annual Human Rights Convention

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Panel of the main plenary session at the Convention. © Chapter Four Uganda

Chapter Four Uganda and its partners hosted the inaugural Human Rights Convention on April, 6 2017 at Kabira Country Club, Kampala.

The convention brought together participants from the civil society, judiciary, print/ electronic media, human rights defenders, Members of Parliament and development partners to share good practices, experiences and emerging trends in public interest litigation in Uganda.

The conversations revolved around the use of Public Interest Litigation to promote the human rights and interests of Ugandans. The Ambassador of the Netherlands to Uganda H. E Henk Jan Bakker delivered a keynote address in which he highlighted the importance of decisions in the public interest in holding governments accountable and in promoting political and social accountability.

"If the law offers a right which can be invoked in novel ways to redress injustice, then surely this is exactly what litigation is designed to do. And if an injustice is embedded in the fabric of the laws society has made, litigation may be the only way to redress those injustices... The Judiciary needs to endeavour not to be influenced by any external factors - political, social or even cultural." H.E. Henk Jan Bakker said.

The breakaway sessions focused on sharing best practices and lessons learnt from public interest litigation by women’s rights activists, discussing the legal and policy framework that enables public interest litigation and interrogating the role of the media in supporting public interest litigation and social justice work.

The main plenary opened with a paper presented by Dr. Busingye Kabumba in the afternoon session, which was broadcast live on NTV Uganda. Dr. Kabumba’s paper highlighted the need for an ethical, strategic and responsible approach to public interest litigation. Litigating on behalf of society is a great responsibility and lawyers should be deliberate in including the beneficiaries and the entire community and avoid becoming the exclusive protectors of human rights. He also pointed out that the role of democratic discussion should not be ignored in favour of public interest litigation.

The convention was a great space for learning, thinking and sharing experiences with the use of public interest litigation as a tool to advance human rights and social justice. The work of protecting, promoting and enforcing human rights in Uganda shall be informed by such discussions.

Click here to view a selection of photos taken at the event on our flickr account.