|African Conference of Civil Society Organizations:
Consolidating the Regional Agenda towards WSSD and Beyond (8th –12th January 2002, Nairobi, Kenya)
AFRICAN CIVIL SOCIETY POSITION TOWARDS THE WSSD 2002 AND BEYOND (WSSD = World Summit on Sustainable Development)
THE PAN-AFRICAN CONFERENCE OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS HELD IN NAIROBI, KENYA FROM 8th TO 12th JANUARY 2002
“For a long time now, Africa has suffered like a motherless child . We have been at the receiving end of the decisions and resolutions taken by other people on our behalf. We must put an end to this… Something nees to radically change in the way the world perceives our continent, Africa, amd us today. We must help humanity to begin to look at us as human beings”.
(Part of the statement by Luyanda ka Msumza, President South Africa Civil Society INDABA in his address at the opening of the conference).
We the representatives of African Civil Society Organizations meeting in Nairobi, Kenya from 8th to 12th January 2002 for the “African Conference of Civil Society Organizations: Consolidating the Regional Agenda towards WSSD and Beyond” with the aim of :
· Strengthening of African civil society,
· Developing a common African civil society position in the context of WSSD and beyond and,
· Developing a strategy for African civil society’s engagement and participation in the WSSD process.
And following up on the deliberations and resolutions stemming from the Pan African NGO Caucus meeting in Nairobi in October 2001 assert thus:
1. We recognize that poverty eradication constitutes the greatest challenge for African States, being more than ever deeply entrenched and economic disparities widening by day between and within nations;
2. We note that Africa has been at the receiving end of numerous foreign concepts incompatible with the potential of Africa to realize sustainable development;
3. We realize the need for Africans to interrogate these concepts so as to ensure that Africa’s interest reigns supreme over all other considerations;
4. The African governments have acknowledged the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) as the vehicle for achievement of long-term sustainable development in Africa, and that NEPAD though supported by the North, constitutes an ambitious response to growing poverty, debt burden and lack of democratic governance and offers a framework for Africans to bargain in the international platform under the ambit of the African Union (AU);
5. Globalization can be seen as breeding neo-liberal and imperialistic economic capitalism, the African Civil Society Organizations supported globalization of economic, social and cultural relations that promote the identities and equality of all peoples and strongly opposed to the so-called “Washington consensus”;
6. Although considerable achievements have been realized in the implementation of the outcomes of the Rio Summit, sustainable development remains elusive as a result of emphasis on environmental issues at the expense of social and economic concerns, lack of infrastructure, insufficient funding and widening gap between talk and action;
7. Discussing gender perspectives in the quest for sustainable development is in essence the discussion of the history and the future of the African people;
8. African Civil Societies cannot achieve any meaningful reversal of trends opposed to sustainable development without linkages and partnerships with respective governments, inter-governmental organizations, the United nations and Civil Society Organizations beyond the continent;
To this end the Pan-African Conference:
1. Set up the African Civil Society Steering Committee for WSSD with the noble task of coordinating and consolidating the African civil society position, agenda and participation in regard towards and during the WSSD.
2. Resolved that there was need for African civil societies to form alliances with like-minded partners based on shared values and visions. The following were identified as potential partners:
b. Intergovernmental Organizations
c. The UN and its agencies
d. Global Civil Society Organizations
e. The African Corporate Sector
f. Youth and Women Networks
g. Strategic Northern Partners notably the Danish 92 Group, Heinrich Boell Foundation, the Green Peace International etc
3. Agreed that NEPAD and other Eurocentric concepts must be interrogated in the context of Africa perspectives and needs, to be defined to unmask any propaganda.
4. Emphasized that Agenda 21 embodying the vision and promise of the realization of Sustainable Development cannot be renegotiated and what remains is for the Developed Countries to fulfil their obligations under the UNCED.
5. Recognized that the WSSD falling at the onset of the New Millennium, a decade after Rio and being held in Africa presents an opportune moment to take stock of our achievements, illuminate on our constraints and chart the course for the future.
6. Set up a task force to harmonize the thematic areas and those of key concern for Africa as a whole towards the WSSD.
7. Agreed that a follow-up Pan African Conference to be held in April 2002 before the Global Prep-Com IV to review [the] CSO position and finalize the preparations for the WSSD Civil Society Forum.
8. Reiterated Civil Society’s need for continued involvement in initiatives and the solutions to the following problems; Poverty eradication, conflict prevention and resolution, democracy and civil rights, globalization, environmental degradation, desertification, and democratic governance.
9. Support the location of UNEP in Nairobi, Kenya and also expressed deep concern on the situation in Somalia and Southern Sudan. The conference condemned the perpetuation of wars in African countries.
“Africa first, Africa last, Africa all the time!”