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INVESTIGATE THE ROLE AND CHALLENGES OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS IN PROTECTING AND PROMOTING HUMAN RIGHTS IN CAMEROON

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INVESTIGATE  THE ROLE AND CHALLENGES OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS IN PROTECTING AND PROMOTING HUMAN RIGHTS IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Civil society (CS) is defined variably based on the situation and the interpretations of various sectors. Despite variations in circumstances and substance, many people believe that civil society comprises institutions and organisations that may pursue multiple paths for the sake of the country's progress. Civil society is often considered a sphere that exists independently of the state but is not completely detached from it. Civil society include government and non-governmental organisations since all individuals are civilians. CSOs are crucial in addressing the needs of those who are unable to support themselves financially and socially (Saskia, 2019). The increasing presence of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Cameroon is essential since they serve as intermediaries facilitating communication between municipalities and local residents. Additionally, CSOs help enhance access to resources provided by local and national government authorities. The researcher is interested in understanding the pivotal role that CSOs play in community development and poverty reduction. Saskia (2019) asserts that civic CSOs, acting as agents of change, often operate at the intersection of government and the commercial sector to achieve development goals. 

Regarding the responsibilities and difficulties of civil society organisations in safeguarding human rights. Human rights are inherent rights that every individual has regardless of their background, race, age, sex, or religion. These rights are essential since they ensure people have the resources required to fulfil their basic requirements, such as food (Miall, Ramsbotham, & Woodhouse, 2016). Cameroon's human rights standards are based on the universal declaration of human rights and are included in the 1996 constitution. The preamble of the 1996 constitution in Cameroon is a legally recognised and significant source of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It incorporates many international human rights into the country's municipal law. The provision in the preamble of the 1996 constitution of Cameroon declares the country's commitment to the fundamental freedoms outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR), the United Nations Charter (UN Charter), the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, and all relevant international conventions that have been ratified. We adhere to a sophisticated human rights system in principle. The same preamble also affirms essential rights such as the right to life, the right to fair trials, and the right not to be subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment (Ewald & Mhamba, 2019). 

Human rights remain a contentious topic, with some advocating for their promotion and others denying their existence. These rights are intended for individuals, since human rights are a crucial concern for the government and its residents (Dijck, Munck, & Terpstra, 2017).The United Nations has played a crucial and profitable role in the development of international human rights legislation since its establishment. Since the United Nations declared human rights, many agreements have been established to safeguard and promote them. Since October 2016, the Anglophone conflict in Cameroon has faced severe violence and persecution from the Cameroon government. A wide variety of human rights violations have occurred, which may be classified as crimes against humanity. In response, a separatist movement has engaged in violent actions against the state's defence forces. Government authorities and armed rebel groups have allegedly committed sexual assault, torture, and public humiliation on women and girls in the Anglophone areas. Crimes against humanity in the Anglophone areas include murder, mass arbitrary arrests, torture of detainees, and forced deportation of Anglophone inhabitants. Approximately 500,000 individuals have been forcefully evacuated, with many internally displaced persons sent to rural locations without sufficient access to food, clean water, clothes, basic sanitation, or medical aid for illnesses including dysentery and malaria. 

CSOs often use many techniques to impact the development process in impoverished regions. Based on a 2014 World Bank research, 2.5 billion people globally lack access to sanitation and potable water, with more than 1 billion living in severe poverty. Many researchers and developmental programmes have noticed these issues and are working on implementing programmes and solutions to tackle poverty, inequality, and unemployment in emerging nations. CSOs engage in service provision, advocacy, innovation, and poverty alleviation efforts (Burnell, P., Randall, & Raknert, 2017). Nevertheless, these organisations have problems in fostering development due to their interactions with diverse individuals, organisations, and funders. Developing programmes is a tough process, and despite the efforts of many organisations in developing nations, poverty, inequality, and unemployment continue to exist. Failures cannot be attributed to a one reason. These organisations encounter many obstacles that impede their objective achievement, which differ from organisation to organisation and from one location to another. Bryman (2016) identified that inadequate funding, legal disputes, stringent restrictions, and lack of support from government agencies have presented challenges for several organisations. CSOs in Cameroon emerged to address the need to decrease the incidence of human rights violations in the nation, as well as to alleviate poverty and lower the unemployment rate. Examining the functions of CSOs while using the social capital method will help address many difficulties faced by CSOs in Cameroon and other developing nations. 

The social capital method aims to enhance social stability by promoting social cohesiveness and addressing development challenges. Social capital is based on the concept that one's network of contacts is more important than one's knowledge or skills (Barratt, M., & Maddox, 2016). Social capital primarily pertains to social cohesiveness, fostering a greater dedication among community members or social groups to improve living circumstances for everyone. Therefore, the researcher sought to investigate  the role and challenges of civil society organizations in protecting and promoting human rights in Cameroon.

Statement of the problem

Civil society organisations (CSOs) in Cameroon are crucial for protecting and promoting human rights, but they face several obstacles that limit their effectiveness. There is a limited knowledge of the specific role these organisations perform and the challenges they face in their attempts to safeguard and advance human rights (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2019). Therefore, it is crucial to examine and assess the functions and obstacles encountered by civil society organisations in safeguarding and advancing human rights in Cameroon. Human rights are essential for the dignity, freedom, and welfare of people in all societies. In Cameroon, like in several other countries, safeguarding and advancing human rights are crucial for maintaining social justice, equality, and democratic government. Civil society organisations (CSOs) are essential for supporting human rights, ensuring government accountability, and strengthening marginalised populations. Yet, the efficacy of Civil Society Organisations in carrying out their responsibilities encounters many obstacles in the Cameroonian setting (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2019). The issue being studied focuses on the responsibilities and difficulties faced by civil society organisations in protecting and promoting human rights in Cameroon. The effects and challenges faced by a wide range of CSOs in the country, from local community groups to national advocacy organisations, have not been well investigated and are not well understood. The function of civil society organisations in Cameroon's human rights environment has to be examined. These organisations act as watchdogs, educators, and champions for human rights, but the detailed methods they use to defend and promote these rights need thorough examination. It is important to comprehend the strategies, methods, and procedures used by CSOs in order to evaluate their effectiveness and pinpoint areas for improvement. Additionally, it is crucial to examine the difficulties encountered by civil society organisations (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2019). The problems may include legal restrictions, government suppression, financial limits, resource limitations, bureaucratic obstacles, social indifference, and cultural obstacles. Studying how these issues hinder the work of CSOs is crucial for developing methods to reduce their influence and improve the efficiency of human rights advocacy initiatives. 

The distinctive socio-political environment in Cameroon complicates the functions and obstacles faced by civil society organisations. The nation has challenges such political instability, ethno-linguistic divides, socio-economic inequality, institutional shortcomings, and violent conflicts in certain areas. Contextual considerations have a considerable impact on human rights advocacy and determine the climate in which Civil Society Organisations operate. Furthermore, there is a lack of empirical research that thoroughly investigates the interaction of civil society organisations, governmental actors, international entities, and grassroots movements in the context of human rights protection and promotion in Cameroon. Thorough empirical research is essential for grasping the intricacies of this intricate ecosystem and guiding policy suggestions based on evidence to enhance human rights governance mechanisms (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2019). The primary research question is: What is the role of civil society organisations in safeguarding and advancing human rights in Cameroon, and what are the main obstacles they face in carrying out this role? The research seeks to provide insights that deepen the knowledge of the factors influencing human rights advocacy in Cameroon and to provide solutions to improve the efficacy of civil society initiatives in this area. Hence, the study investigate the role and challenges of civil society organizations in protecting and promoting human rights in Cameroon.

Objective of the study

The broad objective is to investigate the role and challenges of civil society organizations in protecting and promoting human rights in Cameroon.  The specific objectives is as follows

To identify the challenges faced by civil society organizations in Cameroon when it comes to advocating for human rights.

To assess the strategies employed by civil society organizations in Cameroon to address human rights violations  among the populace.

To analyze the relationship between civil society organizations and the government in Cameroon concerning human rights protection efforts.

To propose strategies for enhancing the effectiveness of civil society organizations in  promoting human rights in Cameroon.

 Research Questions

The following research questions have been prepared to guide the study

What are the challenges faced by civil society organizations in Cameroon when it comes to advocating for human rights?

What are the strategies employed by civil society organizations in Cameroon to address human rights violations  among the populace?

Is there a relationship between civil society organizations and the government in Cameroon concerning human rights protection efforts.

What are the strategies for enhancing the effectiveness of civil society organizations in  promoting human rights in Cameroon?

Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the following

Policymakers: Understanding the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in promoting protecting and promoting human right can provide valuable insights for policymakers in Cameroon. By comprehending the effectiveness of these organizations, policymakers can design better policies to support and enhance their contributions.

Academia: The study will add to the academic literature on protecting and promoting human right, particularly in the context of civil society's role. It provides a foundation for further research and analysis, contributing to the advancement of knowledge in this field.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on the role and challenges of civil society organizations in protecting and promoting human rights in Cameroon.  Empirically, the study will identify the challenges faced by civil society organizations in Cameroon when it comes to advocating for human rights, assess the strategies employed by civil society organizations in Cameroon to address human rights violations  among the populace, analyze the relationship between civil society organizations and the government in Cameroon concerning human rights protection efforts and propose strategies for enhancing the effectiveness of civil society organizations in  promoting human rights in Cameroon.

1.7 Limitation of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.8 Definition of terms

Civil society: the wide array of non-governmental and not-for-profit organizations that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious or philanthropic considerations.

Human right: Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. 


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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