Réseau des Femmes Leaders pour le Développement – RFLD has identified the main problems facing Subsaharan Africa:

  • Freedom of expression: Many countries in West and Central Africa have experienced restrictions on freedom of expression, including media censorship, harassment and imprisonment of journalists, bloggers and activists critical of the government. Libel, sedition and national security laws are often used to stifle dissenting voices.
  • Political instability: Some countries in West and Central Africa have experienced political instability, including coups d’état, disputed elections and civil unrest. These situations undermine democratic processes, limit civic space and contribute to human rights violations.
    Human rights violations by security forces: Security forces in some West and Central African countries have been implicated in human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, torture, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances. Impunity for these acts is a major challenge, as accountability mechanisms are often weak.
  • Discrimination and marginalization: Certain groups in West and Central Africa, such as women, ethnic minorities and religious minorities, face discrimination and marginalization. They often face obstacles in accessing education, healthcare, employment and participation in decision-making processes.
  • Terrorism and insurgency: Several Sahelian countries are grappling with terrorism and insurgency. These conflicts have led to widespread human rights violations, population displacements and limitations on civic space for security reasons.
  • Limited space for civil society: Civil society organizations (CSOs) play a crucial role in promoting human rights and good governance. However, some countries in West and Central Africa have imposed restrictive laws and regulations on CSOs, hampering their ability to operate freely and independently.
  • Weak judicial systems: Weak judicial systems and limited access to justice compromise the protection of human rights in West and Central Africa. Corruption, undue political influence and insufficient resources often lead to delayed or unfair trials, denial of due process and weak enforcement of human rights laws.

Meeting these challenges requires concerted efforts on the part of governments, civil society, regional organizations and the international community. It is essential to strengthen democratic institutions, guarantee the rule of law, promote freedom of expression, protect vulnerable groups and enhance accountability for human rights violations. In addition, promoting regional cooperation and sharing best practices can help strengthen human rights and civic space in West Africa.


The Network of Women Leaders for Development (RFLD) offers valuable insights and solutions for promoting and protecting human rights in Subsaharan Africa. Our perspectives highlight key areas for action, including:

Strengthening Legal Frameworks:

  • Advicate for the Review and reform of laws that restrict fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, assembly, and association.
  • Ensure these reforms are aligned with international human rights standards and guarantee the protection of civil liberties.
  • Establish mechanisms for holding security forces accountable for human rights violations.

Promoting Freedom of Expression and Media Freedom:

  • Foster an environment conducive to independent and diverse media by removing restrictions on press freedom and decriminalizing defamation.
  • Guarantee the safety of journalists and promote media education to empower citizens with critical thinking and information literacy skills.
  • Support the development of independent and diverse media outlets to ensure a plurality of voices and perspectives in the public sphere.

Supporting Civil Society:

  • Create an enabling environment for civil society organizations (CSOs) to operate freely and independently.
  • Advocate for States to simplify registration procedures and provide funding opportunities to support CSOs’ work in promoting human rights and holding governments accountable.
  • Engage in constructive dialogue with CSOs to incorporate their perspectives into policy-making processes and ensure inclusive and participatory governance.

Strengthening Judicial Independence:

  • Invest in strengthening the judiciary and guaranteeing its independence from political influence.
  • Provide adequate resources for the judiciary and train judges in human rights standards and best practices.
  • Implement measures to combat corruption and political interference within the judicial system.
  • Improve access to justice, particularly for marginalized groups who often face systemic barriers to legal recourse.

Empowering Marginalized Groups:

  • Actively address the discrimination and marginalization faced by women, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, and other vulnerable groups.
  • Enact legal reforms to prohibit discriminatory practices and promote equality before the law.
  • Launch awareness-raising campaigns and educational initiatives to challenge harmful stereotypes and promote tolerance and understanding.
  • Implement affirmative action measures to ensure equal opportunities and empower marginalized groups to participate fully in society.

Strengthening Regional Cooperation:

  • Collaborate with Regional organizations like ECOWAS, CEMAC, and the African Union to address human rights challenges collectively.
  • Share best practices and coordinate efforts to develop regional human rights mechanisms, such as human rights courts and monitoring bodies.
  • Advocate for the adoption of common human rights standards and promote a culture of accountability across the region.

Involving International Partners:

  • Offer capacity-building programs to strengthen human rights institutions and promote a culture of human rights within governments.
  • Provide funding for human rights initiatives and advocate for the protection of human rights through diplomatic pressure and international forums.