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Chapter One Foundation officially launched

OUR goal is to see a Zambia where citizens are freely and actively participating in the governance of Zambia, and where “we the people” take our rightful place as the authors of our own destiny, says Chapter One Foundation executive director Linda Kasonde.

Kasonde said increased inequality, growing populism and weakening of public institutions and public accountability is affecting the ability to deliver on the sustainable development goals that Zambia has signed up to.

Kasonde said the foundation which was launched last Thursday was founded to promote and protect human rights, human rights defenders, constitutionalism and rule of law through litigation, advocacy and civic education in a sustainable manner.

She said Chapter One Foundation was named after Chapter One of the Laws of Zambia.

Kasonde said the Constitution was the supreme law by which every Zambian, regardless of status, was bound.

“We at Chapter One Foundation take our constitutional duty to uphold and defend the Constitution very seriously. Chapter One stemmed from a seed planted many years ago through interactions with an organisation called Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human rights or ZLHR as it is otherwise known, is an organisation that aims to strengthen human rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe. The courage, competence and tenacity of its lawyers, who operate under very challenging circumstances, has long been a source of inspiration to the founders of Chapter One Foundation,” she said.

“We are equally delighted that Mr Mwandenga of the Human Rights Commission agreed to be our guest of honour. The Human Rights Commission is doing a commendable job of protecting human rights in Zambia and we are happy to say that we will be partnering with them to advance the cause of human rights in Zambia. Chapter One Foundation is financially supported by the Swedish Embassy, the National Endowment for Democracy, ActionAid Zambia and Caritas Zambia who all recognise the growing need to defend the civic space in Zambia.”

Kasonde said human rights, the people that defend human rights, constitutionalism and the rule of law were facing a growing threat the world over and Zambia was no exception.

She said increased inequality, growing populism and weakening of public institutions and public accountability were affecting the ability to deliver on sustainable development goals that Zambia has signed up to.

Kasonde said the mere existence of public institutions was not enough to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights.

She said public institutions must also be guided by certain principles that ensure that the institutions truly function for the benefit of society.

“Some of these principles are: Participation of citizens in governance and public life thereby influencing decision-making in the country; responsiveness of public institutions meaning that systems should be efficient and effective as well as transparent; rule of law: this means that laws are enforced objectively and impartially for the public good; respect for human rights and social cohesion: ensuring that all sectors of the economy must work to realize human rights; and accountability: meaning that all decision-makers are answerable to the people of Zambia and take responsibility for their decisions. It also means that there are effective remedies against maladministration,” she said.

Kasonde said it was these principles that guide the work of Chapter One Foundation.

“Our goal is to see a Zambia where citizens are freely and actively participating in the governance of Zambia, and where ‘we the people’ take our rightful place as the authors of our own destiny. To achieve this, we recognise that we have to put the individual at the heart of our work, that is why human rights are at the core of what we do,” said Kasonde.

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