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See Report on the First Africa Union Western Diaspora Forum

FOUNDATION FOR DEMOCRACY IN AFRICA
PRESS RELEASE
December 20, 2002
Posted to the web December 22, 2002

Washington, DC

The first African Union Western Hemisphere Diaspora Forum ended last night after three days with the creation of a network of civil society organizations from North America, South America and the Caribbean that have developed an ongoing linkage to the African Union.

"For the first time, the children of Africa in the Americas have met together to create a plan on how the African world can be uplifted through cooperation with the continent's regional organization," said Fred Oladeinde, President of the Foundation for Democracy in Africa. "We must continue our joint efforts to make the betterment of African people everywhere a reality."

Recommendations made by the forum will be considered by the AU's Executive Council at its meeting in February and ultimately by the Heads of States and Governments Summit next July. The AU, which is in the process of confirming its structure, is interested in creating a mechanism for the inclusion of civil society in its continuing deliberations.

"I am here to convey three messages of great importance," explained His Excellency Amara Essy, Chairman of the Interim African Union Commission, at the forum's opening town hall meeting. "One is that the African Union that we are building is a matter of great significance both to continental Africans and Africans in Diaspora. Two, is that it requires the convergence of our efforts to succeed and that both our fore bearers and the coming generation will not forgive us if we fail to make it work. Third, is that the processes of cooperation and coordination required in this regard can only take place within mutually agreed parameters."

The forum agreed to create the Western Hemisphere Diaspora Network to continue the activities of the participants, especially as an ongoing link to the African Union. The AU, especially the Conference on Stability, Security, Development and Cooperation in Africa, had called upon the Foundation to convene this conference in order to develop an ongoing relationship with the African Diaspora in the Western Hemisphere. The participants also were asked to suggest issues they felt were critical for the AU to address, as well as ways in which the Diaspora on this side of the Atlantic Ocean could help in that effort.

The forum recommended that an AU office be established in Washington, D.C., as a liaison office for the new network, and the Foundation was asked to serve as the coordinating body to follow up on the specific mandate of the forum.

Participants at the forum included a variety of civil society organizations playing key roles in the civil rights and black advancement movements in the Americas, scholars, businesspeople and other professionals and people in the arts, such as Pearl Eintou Springer, the poet laureate of Trinidad and Tobago. One of the participants, Lino Almeida of Brazil, was named special adviser on race relations to Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Hundreds of other participants took part in the forum via streaming video through an Internet connection.

The network, which will be connected through a web site and discussion group that is being established, will operate through working groups created by the forum: Democracy, Governance and Rule of Law; Peace and Security; Trade and Economic Development; Health and Environment; Education; Arts and Culture; Science, Research and Technology, and Communications. Participants presented dozens of recommendations to the AU, which will be posted for public comment for one month on the Foundation's web site at www.democracy-africa.org




    
    
    
    
    

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