Photo: © 2017 European Union.
Ahead of the Africa-European leaders Summit scheduled for November 2017 in Abidjan, the third Africa-EU Civil Society Forum was held in Tunis, Tunisia from July 11-13 2017under the auspices of Joint Africa-Europe Strategy (JAES). The Forum, attended by over 80 participants from Africa and Europe was jointly organized by the Africa -EU Joint Steering Committee and hosted by the Africa Steering Committee with support of both the African Union Commission and the European Union Commission.
In order to enhance the realization of African Union 2063 Agenda and the 2017 EU Communication “For a Renewed Impetus of the Africa-EU Partnership”, the civil society Forum made recommendations in five different area being: conflict prevention, peace building and refugees; democratic governance and civic participation; Human development; decent work, universal social protection and social economic development; and a sustainable future for your planet. Important cross-cutting issues such as migration and mobility, gender equality and youth were mainstreamed in the debates.
Civil society forum adopted a Declaration which among others calls on both the African and the European Commission to:
- To increase their political, financial and logistical support for a timely, transparent and inclusive involvement of CSOs, including those representing the diaspora, at all levels of decision-making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the JAES, in an institutional framework that is clearly defined and targeted at this support;
- To make sure to organise Joint Annual Fora in close cooperation with all the stakeholders, including civil society representatives, and make sure that these meetings effectively feed into the reflections and choices of decision makers;
- To identify and operationalise “entry points” in the Roadmap implementation allowing a better involvement of CSOs and creating, on a case by case basis, dedicated spaces and mechanisms, or opening existing ones to CSO participation.
- To increase the flow and quality of information facilitating the preparation of CSOs’ meaningful inputs in the implementation of the Roadmap and all debates around the JAES;
- To support with financial means, including by facilitating access to funding, CSOs’ participation and activities, including advocacy and implementation of projects in the frame of the strategy while always respecting their full autonomy;
- To initiate, ten years after the launch of the JAES, a stocktaking exercise of achievements and shortcomings. This is a process in which CSOs should play a vital role;
- To adopt an actor-based approach to the representation of civil society in the JAES;
- To act upon political commitments to create a true enabling environment for civil society participation;
- Enhance dialogue between governments and CSOs including youth, women, migrants and refugees, diaspora, workers, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and any other groups left behind, as part of an inclusive multi-stakeholder policy process.
Africa Freedom of Information Centre calls upon leaders of Africa and Europe to study the Declaration of the 3rd CSO Forum and take forwards its recommendations.