The call was made on 4th, October, 2023 at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Kigali during a ‘High Level Consultative Meeting’ hosted by RCSP and Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP).
While speaking to the participants, Joseph Nkurunziza, the Chairperson RCSP highlighted the importance of the protocol not only to the African continent but precisely in Rwanda, making reference to two of his family friends in retirement that need fundraising to get further treatment.
“Social protection can provide direct support to people living in extreme poverty and who are unable to access microcredits,” he stated, disclosing RCSP’s advocacy efforts, responsibility and commitment on issues affecting the general public.
RCSP in collaboration with APSP organised the meeting to create awareness and request the Government of Rwanda to discuss on government guidelines for the ratification of International Protocols and Rwandan legal frameworks on social protection and social security.
“In a world where progress is often measured by economic growth and technological advancement, we shouldn’t forget the fundamental truth. The true measure of our society’s greatness lies in how we treat our most vulnerable citizens.”
“It is not enough to celebrate economic prosperity while ignoring the plight of those who struggle to access the basic necessities,” remarked Nkurunziza.
William Ndegeyinka, Senior State Attorney in Charge of International Justice and Judicial Cooperation at the Ministry of Justice, acknowledged the protocols’ elaborative and progressive mechanisms which align with Rwanda’s dedication to the well being and rights of its citizens.
“Citizen’s social protection and social security remain among Rwanda’s key priorities. For instance, the constitution of the Republic of Rwanda lays out fundamental principles that the country commits itself to upholding and ensuring respect, building a state committed to promoting social welfare and establishing appropriate mechanisms for equal opportunity to social justice,” he explained.
“To give effect to this constitutional fundamental principle, policy, legal and institutional frameworks have been put in place,” added Ndegeyinka.
He further commended the meeting’s diversity stating that it aligns so well with Rwanda’s approach and affirmed existing collaboration between the government, its partners and stakeholders.
In February 2022, the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government adopted the groundbreaking African Charter on Human and People’s Rights to Social Protection and Social Security protocol. With 39 articles at its core, this protocol recognizes that social protection and social security are not mere luxuries but inherent rights of every citizen.
While the protocol represents a significant step forward, it currently awaits ratification, having been signed by only two countries: Niger on May 27, 2022, and Sao Tome and Principe on February 16, 2023.
Dr. Tavengwa Nhongo, Director of the Africa Platform for Social Protection (APSP), has issued a heartfelt call to Rwanda to lead the way in ratifying the protocol.
Rwanda’s unique position lies in the fact that it has already signed and ratified most of the articles contained in the protocol, including provisions for People with Disabilities (PWDS) and the Elderly. Dr. Nhongo expressed his hope, saying, "I am hoping that Rwanda will be the number one country to ratify the protocol in Africa because the drafting of the protocol is underpinned from a declaration that came from here [Kigali declaration on social security and social protection]."
APSP, a network of organizations operating at national and regional levels, is dedicated to promoting and strengthening the social contract between states and citizens. Their mission aligns with the broader goal of securing social protection and security for all.
On the home front, the Rwanda Civil Society Platform (RCSP), comprising 12 member organizations, has been tirelessly advocating for the ratification of the protocol. Established in 2004, RCSP aims to foster partnership, inclusion, and amplify voices within Rwandan society, ultimately enhancing citizen participation in sustainable development.
According to Angelique Kabeza, the Executive Secretary of RCSP, civil society plays a pivotal role in pushing for the ratification of the protocol.
Their efforts, in collaboration with APSP and other stakeholders, signify Rwanda’s commitment to realizing the principles enshrined in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights to Social Protection and Social Security. Rwanda’s potential to become the first African nation to ratify the protocol stands as a testament to its dedication to the well-being and rights of its citizens.