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The second national conference on economic, social and cultural rights has been held at Makerere University Main hall drawing participants from the civil society, the Academia, Policy makers, legal practitioners and students.
The Theme of the event was Tackling Social exclusion in access to social economic goods and services for sustainable development.
The Key note address was given by Hon. Justice Johann Van der Westhizen of the south African Constitutional Court and the discussants included Professor Joe Oloka Onyango, from the School of Law, Dr. Joseph Muvawala the executive Director National Planning authority and Ms Irene Ovonji Executive Director FIDA and Vice Chairperson, Makerere University Council.
In remarks read by Professor D.J Bakibinga, on behalf of the chief guest Hon. Lady Justice Professor Lillian Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza of the court of appeal and the Constitutional court, it was stated that the conference was timely given that economic, social and cultural rights dominate the human rights discourse the world over.
She however regretted to note the large divide between the academia and the practice, but was optimistic that since the two parties were involved in the discourse, some practical solutions would be found.
Further, she noted that although Uganda ratified a number of treaties regionally and internationally, these have not been incorporated into the laws of Uganda, which is an indication of lack of commitment.
While welcoming the conferece participants to Makerere University, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Finance and Planning Professor Okello Ogwang, who represented the Vice Chancellor Professor John Ddumba Sentamu said as a University, Makerere had long stepped away from the theory in the lecture rooms to a new gospel of innovation and relevance in the community, the nation and the entire globe. H
He noted that over the years, most innovations have been stemming from the science based disciplines. However, the great minds in the Humanities and Social Sciences including Law also continue to re-invent themselves and contribute to setting new standards in their fields. One such innovation is the Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) based at the School of Law.
He commended the Public Interest Law clinic and the partner organizations for bringing the discourse on economic, social and cultural rights to the seat of research, adding that the deliberations would contribute to the University’s research agenda where the area of Human rights has been mainstreamed in all sectors of the University. He challenged the conveners and participants of the conference to come up with practical solutions to bridge the existing gaps in the realization of economic social and cultural rights.
The Organizing Committee comprised of the Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) of the School of Law, Makerere University, the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), the Human Rights Network-Uganda (HURINET-U), the Center for Health, Human Rights & Development (CEHURD) and the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC).
The National Conference was inaugurated in 2014 as one of the ways of promoting advocacy for the protection, promotion and enforcement of in Uganda. The approach each year is to select a theme as the basis of discussions at the Conference.
The UN Office of The High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Finnish NGO Foundation for Human Rights (KIOS), USAID- Advocacy for Better Health Project at PATH and the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) supported the conference.