Ambassador Sullivan at the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative

Director of the Cabinet,

Ladies and gentlemen representatives of

Distinguished guests, in your ranks and functions,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honor and pleasure to participate in the opening of this regional workshop on consumer rights, organized by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, Human Rights, and the Promotion of Indigenous Peoples, with the financial support of the government of the United States of America.

The program “African Center for Justice of ABA-ROLI” aims to promote a regional African initiative to train and perfect law professionals and civil society, to protect fundamental economic and social rights. It targets the Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, the DRC, and Burundi (experimentally). It follows the assumption that these rights are often violated and aggravated by government malpractice which judicial action can help to correct and repair.

The United States government believes and invests in the power of justice and judicial systems in Africa through many projects. Our politics on the subject defend and support, above all, lasting national solutions that reinforce justice. It is the reason that this project was already financed to support a local initiative. The work group focuses on improving awareness of consumer rights. But before that, it listens to the strategic questions to support a lasting initiative that is principally undertaken by states and regional actors to ensure that it is durable.

Consumers, in the United States and in Africa, have rights. The guiding principles at the United Nations for the protection of consumer rights were recently updated and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. They find their origin in an initiative launched by the former President of the United States John F. Kennedy. They affirm the right to security, the right to be well-informed to make responsible choices, the right to product choice, and the right of consumers to be heard. Later, the United Nations will extend this list of rights to notably include the right to the satisfaction of fundamental needs.

The realization of these rights poses numerous conditions that are reflected in the four principal pillars of American policy regarding Africa: reinforce democratic institutions, spport economic growth and African development, promote opportunities and development, and promote peace and security.

It is up to people like you to take action and work together so that stated norms and principals for the consumer are respected. For this, your skills must be reinforced. It is because of this goal that the ACJ project began. We hope that it begins a reflection and concrete and realistic proposals for a durable local initiative in this field. In applying these efforts for economic development on the African continent, the government of the United States is aware that one of the fundamental conditions for social and economic success on the continent is the effectiveness of political and social institutions in place. So that a society develops advantageously, the institutions must be stronger than the people representing them. There are many challenges to improvement in this respect, including in the Central African region.

To face these challenges and improve living conditions for people around the world and in Central Africa, it is necessary for government to focus their attentions on the respect of human rights and reinforcing the capacity of judiciary and governance systems. It is in this context, that the government of the United States of America took many initiatives to more quickly and concretely support this dynamic and to accompany leaders and communities on the continent in the struggle against obstacles to economic and social development.

Thank you.