Within the KHRC’s Strategic Plan (2014-2018), the Equality and Non-Discrimination (now renamed to Political Pluralism and Diversity thematic programme envisions “Enhanced Representation and Participation of Targeted Marginalized Groups in Political Governance”. The programme endeavours to enhance the inclusion and participation of these marginalized groups in the public sphere, particularly in decision making.
In this operational period (2016-2018), KHRC will advocate for political pluralism and respect for diversity at the county, national and regional political and governance spaces. In this regard and in contributing towards the realization of our strategic objective of Enhanced Representation and Participation of Targeted Marginalized Groups in Political Governance, the PPD programme intends to achieve its three (3) main outputs within the framework provided below:
- ‘Progressive Pluralism Enhanced in Governance Structures by 2018’, the KHRC will seek to address the question of identity politics and ethnic polarization with specific focus on negotiated democracies.
In embedding inclusive political participation and representation, it is informative to interrogate the spaces and avenues available which contribute to or impede the realization of this ideal. In this regard, political parties are a critical vehicle for ensuring that party politics adhere to and respect diversity and indeed offer favourable opportunities for political inclusivity. A critical look into the formation of key political parties in Kenya and select countries in Africa will be informative in the advocacy for reforms within political party structures to create the space for inclusion and diversity. This information will form the basis for engagement with relevant actors at county and national level as well as at the sub-regional, regional and international levels. Great importance would need to be attached to the formulation, adoption and implementation of party manifestos, policies and administrative practices geared towards enhancing political participation and representation of marginalized groups. This is based on the fact that composition of political parties is critical in tackling identity politics and ethnic mobilization. The research findings will form the basis for calling for reforms and inclusion within the political parties. To effectively execute this, the PPD programme will work closely with the Electoral Governance Programme as has been the practice in certain respects over the years.
Political marginalization is not a problem unique to Kenya; there are other countries that continue to face the same. At the core of this marginalization question is the issue of nationality and equal access to citizenship. In 2014, the UNHCR launched global ten-year action plan to end statelessness. This global action plan requires some form of domestication and translation into national action plans to be developed and implemented. At the regional level, the African Union has adopted a protocol on nationality that contributes to the reduction of statelessness. There have been attempts at the East African Community level to adopt policies that would contribute to this as well. KHRC will spearhead the advocacy for ratification and domestication of the Protocol in select countries.
The PPD programme therefore envisions the current regional socio-political developments as being critical in the realization of the right to nationality that in turn contributes to enhancing political participation and representation of marginalized groups. For instance in many jurisdictions, nationality and citizenship questions are lined with discriminatory and inequitable practices that impede the realization of political rights. Women, for instance, are unable to confer citizenship to their foreign spouses whereas persons from certain communities are subjected to discriminatory and arbitrary practices in the acquisition of citizenship documents. As such the right to nationality and citizenship are both critical aspects for consideration in the advancement of the realization of inclusive political representation and participation, and are not severely delinked from this debate. Access to citizenship documents has a direct impact on the extent of participation in the political and governance space. As such, this will remain a key area of focus, drawing from the work that KHRC has done over the years on the right to citizenship and reduction of statelessness.
- “Expanded Public Spaces to Combat Stigma against LGBTI Persons” is meant to deal with discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity that has seen sexual and gender minorities continue to be marginalized and stigmatized in Kenya and most of Africa generally. KHRC will seek to build and enhance the capacity of key resource persons and allies to expand the spaces within which the issues facing LGBTI persons can be addressed, legally and socially. In addition to this, KHRC will continue to engage in national and regional advocacy on the protection and realization of the rights of LGBTI persons. At the regional level, KHRC is currently engaged in advocacy around the implementation of the ACHPR Resolution 245 on Violence and Human Rights Violations against Persons on the Basis of their Imputed or Real Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Africa adopted in 2013. Further there continues to be a domino effect on the Continent with regards to enactment of punitive legislation criminalizing same sex conduct which further marginalizes LGBTI persons and grossly disadvantages them in African countries. Advocacy to counter prohibitive legislation as well as adoption of inclusive legislation will be a core area of focus for the programme in 2016-2018. KHRC will work closely with HURINETs, GALCK and NGLHRC as well as with other organizations at the regional and international levels in the advancement of this agenda.
- “Barriers to Realisation of Economic and Social Rights of Women and Persons With Disabilities Confronted” will focus on advocating for the realization of women’s economic and social rights and enhancing their inclusion and participation in decision making and governance positions, further to output one.
Marginalization and exclusion often takes the form and shape of social development, economic and political exclusion. The issues of equitable resource and benefit sharing as well as equitable social and economic development cannot be detached from the precipitating effects of exclusion and marginalization. At the regional level, PPD has been engaged in the drafting and advocacy for adoption of a General Comment on Article 7(d) of the Maputo Protocol on women’s land and property rights.
With regards to PWDs, KHRC will focus on monitoring compliance with international, regional and national obligations including ongoing legal reform on this front; representation and participation within devolved governments in select counties i.e Kwale,Isiolo and Nakuru and advocate for the adoption of guidelines to address involuntary sterilization of persons with disabilities.