Although Angola has one of the highest levels of GDP per capita in Sub-Saharan Africa, average life expectancy is 41 years and 69 percent of Angolans live below the poverty line. The country's 27-year civil war took a heavy toll, but given its resources, data suggests not enough progress in realizing economic and social rights has been made since the end of the war in 2002.
Angola appeared before the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women on 20 February 2013. On the occasion of this important dialogue, CESR, together with its partners the Chr. Michelsen Institute, the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa and Rede Mulher Angola, submitted a report examining the country's performance with regard to maternal and reproductive rights. The report analyses the current enjoyment of these rights in the country, and the policies the state has implemented to fulfill them.
Angola's lacklustre performance in the provision of economic and social rights, despite its relatively strong economic indicators, was previously addressed by the Center when the country appeared before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in November 2008. On that occasion, CESR's factsheet (aqui em português) provided a graphic overview of selected elements of the human rights to education, health and water, seeking to highlight areas where government efforts to realize these rights may have been inadequate. The discussion of this meeting can be found here. Based on the information provided in the factsheet, the Committee experts asked the Angolan government questions about:
- The lack of improvements in access to improved sanitation;
- Low public expenditure on health, high incidence of malaria and the low rate of treatment, even though malaria is a principal cause of morbidity in children under the age of five;
- Widespread female illiteracy in rural areas.
In light of its consideration of Angola's reports, and the subsequent discussion, the Committee adopted its concluding observations. These concluding observations list principal subjects of concern along with suggestions and recommendations to the State party. Some of the most pertinent recommendations, particularly in the light of CESR's 2013 submission to CEDAW, are reproduced below:
- The Committee recommends that when carrying out its next census in 2009, the State party adopt rights-based indicators and benchmarks to monitor the progressive realization of the rights recognized in the Covenant and that to this end establish a data collection, and provide in its second periodic report updated statistical data on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, disaggregated by gender, age, rural/urban population and by refugee/IDPs, HIV/AIDS and disability status.
- The Committee recommends that the State party: (a) enact domestic legislation to incorporate the international conventions against corruption ratified by the State party in 2006; (b) train politicians, law makers, national and local civil servants and law enforcement officers on the economic and social costs of corruption (c) train judges, prosecutors, the police and other law enforcement officers on the strict application of anti-corruption laws; (d) review its sentencing policy for corruption-related offences; (e) ensure the transparency of the conduct of public authorities, in law and in practice; (f) elaborate, in cooperation with relevant organizations and institutions, guidelines and a code of ethics; and (g) conduct awareness-raising campaigns.
- The Committee urges the State party to take all appropriate and effective measures, including the adoption of a global policy, to combat and eliminate discrimination against women, migrants, IDPs, poor people, disabled people, persons affected with HIV/AIDS.
- The Committee recommends that the State party should step up its efforts in the area of health and requests it to adopt a global health policy that includes prevention programmes which will ensure that the poorest sectors of the population have access to free, high-quality and universal primary health care, including dental care, as well as policies targeted to individuals who suffer from war post-traumatic mental disorders. The Committee requests the State party to provide detailed and updated information in its next report, including disaggregated statistical data and indicators, that will allow it to assess the level of progress achieved in that area.
- The Committee recommends that the State party ensure affordable access for everyone, including adolescents, to comprehensive family planning services and contraceptives, especially in rural and deprived urban areas, adequately funding the free distribution of contraceptives, raising public awareness and strengthening school education on sexual and reproductive health.
- The Committee recommends that the benefits of the State party’s macroeconomic growth be used to promote policies to create jobs specially for the most marginalized and disadvantaged individuals.
- The Committee calls on the State party to take all appropriate measures, including by allocating product of oil and diamond revenues, to accelerate the rehabilitation and reconstruction of public infrastructure and social services in both the urban and rural areas.
- The Committee urges the State party to take all necessary measures to implement a poverty reduction strategy which should integrate economic, social and cultural rights, in line with statement on Poverty and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/2002/22-E.12/2001/17, annex VII).