Invest in Human Rights for Africa’s Future

Heads of State at U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Must Act

August 4, 2014 – Today in Washington, D.C., President Obama is making history by welcoming multiple heads of state from Africa to the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. On the occasion of this historic meeting, Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading international Jewish human rights and development organization, urges President Obama and African leaders to ensure that human rights are central to their deliberations as they discuss the meeting’s themes of “Investing in the Next Generation” and “America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people.”  American Jewish World Service currently funds 151 human rights advocacy groups in 12 African countries.

Statement of Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service, regarding human rights and the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit:

“The future of Africa depends on the commitment of its leaders to ensure the human rights of all of the continent’s people, including women and girls; LGBT people; and communities whose access to land, air and water is threatened by unbridled development. There is no more powerful investment in any people or continent than the investment in human rights,” said Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS.

Violence Against Women and Girls
“As President Obama highlights America’s commitment to Africa’s security and democratic development, he must strengthen his commitment to the safety and security of Africa’s women and girls, who are too often the victims of an epidemic of violence.”

Protecting Natural Resource Rights
“When discussing future business and investment opportunities, President Obama and African heads of state must ensure that local communities are actively involved in making decisions related to development—particularly the management and extraction of natural resources, which too often take place without any benefit to local people.”

South Sudan
“Millions of people living in South Sudan are facing food shortages, violence and displacement. As an outspoken advocate for the right of the South Sudanese people to choose a path to independence, I was filled with joy to see the dreams of so many people realized just three years ago when South Sudan gained its independence. As leaders from across Africa, including President Salva Kiir of the Republic of South Sudan, come to Washington D.C., our leaders must seize this opportunity to send the message of peace, reconciliation and concern for the people of South Sudan.”

LGBT People
“We call on President Obama to reassert his support for the human rights of one of the most marginalized groups in many African societies: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. No community, country or continent can flourish until all of its people are able to exercise their rights and are free to participate fully in society. To help ensure that the rights of LGBT people are realized, we call on President Obama to appoint a special U.S. envoy whose focus would be the human rights of LGBT people worldwide.”

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