MALAWI CSOs COMMEND MALAWI AMBASSADOR TO UN
Civil Society Organizations from Malawi have commended Malawi Ambassador and Permanent Representative to United Nations in New York His Excellency Charles Msosa for his personal commitment in promoting the aspirations of Malawians. The Ambassador has been tirelessly representing Malawi in CPD day and night while attending to other side meetings as well. Earlier in the week a team of five officers from three organizations met the Malawi Ambassador on the Commission on Population and Development. These include Mac Bain Mkandawire and Charles Banda from Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO), Lucky Mbewe and Chisomo Dindi from Youth Empowerment for Civic Education (YECE) and IPAS Malawi. During the meeting that lasted for over two hours, the Ambassador responded to critical issues that the African group felt must be addressed in the CPD. His Excellency Msosa emphasized to CSOs that his office is always open for discussions on issues that affect and benefit Malawians.
Progress in Malawi
The CSOs shared the progress Malawi has made in the promotion of Gender Equality and Sexual Reproductive Health. On the ground Malawi has done a lot and is considered to be very progressive in addressing issues of sexual reproductive health, population and development. In 2013 Malawi President went ahead and signed a comprehensive law on Gender Equality despite calls from religious leaders who felts it had sensitive sections. The president opted to look at the welfare of millions of Malawian women and girls than to please a few hypocrite and selfish individuals. Malawi has serious challenges on reproductive health. These include increases rates for maternal mortality, fistula cases among victims of forced child marriages and lack of access to sexual reproductive health services among the youth. The Gender Equality Act (2012) is expected to address the challenges as it has provisions against harmful cultural practices and promotion of sexual reproductive health and rights.
African Group deadlock
At the 2014 at the 47th CPD, Malawi CSOs noted that the African group is strongly opposing provisions that they feel may give room to sexual minority rights and comprehensive sexuality education. However this fear is baseless as the legal provision within the respective member state is still superior to international resolutions and laws. The CSOs wants Malawi to share the progress it is making on the ground while maintaining its subscription to African group.
The agreement on the 47th CPD is expected to be made in the early hours of Saturday 12th April following African group’s reservations on article 16 (PP16) and other provision that made adjournments throughout Friday. The article 16 state “Recognizing that health is a precondition for economic and social development and aware that sexual and reproductive health and rights, in accordance with national laws, are central to the realization of social justice and to the achievement of global, regional, and national commitments for sustainable development”. The African group wants the text to change to “sexual and reproductive health and rights” in line with the 2013 Addis Declaration of Ministers (African Regional Review Meeting). Advocates have been arguing that the inclusion of “in accordance with national laws” still give sovereignty to state parties. Charles Banda from YONECO said “it is unfortunate that the African group is not accepting the article when there is a sovereignty clause”. He explains that in Africa it is only South Africa and Namibia that when they sign international agreements it automatically becomes part of their national law. While majority have supremacy and sovereignty sections in their respective constitutions. Banda said in the case of Malawi any law or agreement we sign at international level cannot become part of Malawi law as they have supremacy and domestication sections in the Malawi Constitution. He said section 5 of Malawi Constitution state that “Any act of Government or any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be invalid”. Banda added that section 211 of the same constitution demands an act of parliament for the domestication of international laws Malawi signs.
The outcome of the 47th CPD is yet to come as the meeting that started in the morning of Friday 11 April went over to Saturday morning of 12 April, reaching 3:40 am due to deadlock and continuous adjournments. Up to this point it is not yet clear whether and on what the countries will agree after negotiating for an agreed position that will fit all.
Chalres Banda, Media, Networking and Advocacy Offcer at YONECO Malawi, in collaboration with Simavi