African and European civil society organizations; structured around the African Economic Cultural and Social Council (ECOSOCC) of the African Union (AU) on the one hand and the European Civil Society Steering Group on the Join Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) on the other hand have taken steps to consider progress on the JAES and the role of civil society in its implementation.
Civil society representatives welcome the shift in paradigm in Europe-Africa Relations as introduced by the Joint Africa-Europe Strategy (JAES) and particularly the emphasis on people-centered approach that it contains. Civil society organizations believe that they bring an added value to the people-centered approach of the Strategy. In response to this, the first Africa-EU Civil Society Intercontinental Forum on the Joint Africa-EU Strategy was held in Cairo on 8-10 November 2010 so as to enhance and further structure civil society’s role in accompanying the implementation of the Strategy.
Civil society commends the African and European institutions for the progress achieved in the implementation of the JAES but expresses concern about the slow pace of delivery of the 1st Action Plan. While recognizing that the first phase focused on establishing mechanisms and process, civil society hopes that the speed of delivery will increase in the aftermath of the 3rd Heads of States and Governments Summit.
Welcoming the call of the 12th Joint Ministerial Troika Communiqué, civil society calls upon the official parties to ensure this is backed up with concrete measures and incentives to enhance the space for increased civil society involvement in all processes of the JAES.
Civil society, from both continents, understands partnership as a process and has committed to organizing itself to an ongoing dialogue built on mutual trust, ownership, good will and solidarity that includes regular exchanges notably through an annual Intercontinental CSO Forum and an ongoing Joint Steering Group. It is also requested that adequate sustainable financing be provided and guaranteed to support this process.
The Joint CSO Intercontinental Forum discussed the draft 2nd Action Plan and arrived to a number of recommendations covering most of the partnerships as captured in the Declaration and the Final Report of the meeting, which will be made available to the institutional structures.
The Declaration contains recommendations to improve and enhancing the delivery of the Strategy in response to the development needs of people, including on: Diaspora development, job creation; value addition in agriculture, technology, industry, mineral and raw material production; affordable access to energy for all; rural infrastructure; fair trade; rights of migrants; fair, expeditious and reciprocal visa processes; women’s rights and empowerment; youth involvement; climate debt; decent work; affordable access to energy for all; civilian involvement in conflict prevention and resolution; getting on track on the MDGs in particular in areas such as health, education, reducing maternal and child mortality, water and sanitation. Civil society also denounces xenophobia, extremism, terrorism and violence in all its forms.