The African Commission holds its sessions twice a year, generally during the months of May and November. These sessions include both a public and a private part. During the public session, the human rights situation in Africa is discussed, state reports are examined and the different Special Rapporteurs’ and Working Groups’ present their activity reports for the intersession period. Only ACHPR Commissioners take part in the private sessions, and here internal matters and communications are discussed.
IWGIA has participated in all sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights since May 2002 (31st session) and has compiled a series of accounts of each session. The accounts include links to key documents on indigenous issues presented at each particular session, such as IWGIA’s report of the session, State periodic reports, NGO shadow reports and ACHPR concluding observations on State Reports.
NGO shadow reports
When states present their periodic reports to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, NGOs have also the opportunity to submit supplementary information to the Commission in the form of shadow reports.
Periodic reports of the African States to the ACHPR are often incomplete and tend to overemphasize accomplishments and leave out important facts or problems. That is why NGO input, in the form of shadow reports, are very important to bring indigenous people’s concerns to the attention of the ACHPR. Shadow reports provide an alternative source of information and assist the ACHPR’s commissioners in asking substantiated critical questions during the constructive dialogue and in the drafting of the concluding observations.
Once the ACHPR has completed its examination of state reports, it issues concluding observations. The concluding observations are the official record of the ACHPR stance on the human rights situation in countries that have been up for periodic review. They are thus potentially good advocacy tools that can be used as reference points for lobby activities.