- Representatives of African civil society organisations (CSOs), meeting in Durban, South Africa from 1 to 2 July 2002, met to discuss the role of CSOs with respect to the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for AfricaвЂ™s Development (NEPAD).
- Participants welcomed the creation of the AU as a landmark in the process of shared aspirations for African unity, on the continent and in the diaspora. CSOs have raised many critical concerns about the NEPAD initiative around its proposed principles and strategies, legitimacy, process and outcomes.
However, CSOs remain hopeful that NEPAD, as an initiative, will be a manifestation of the African renaissance with common strategies for overcoming impoverishment, and achieving gender equity on the continent, as well as playing a major role in facilitating economic viability for Africa in the global economy.
- Participants welcomed the growing engagement between the OAU/AU and CSOs, as manifest in the two OAU-CSO meetings held in Addis Ababa in June 2001 and June 2002, as well as the Symposium on the AU convened on 3 March 2002 in Addis Ababa, and fully endorsed their outcomes. Applauding the democratic principles underpinning the Constitutive Act of the AU, participants called upon the NEPAD Implementation Committee to engage with African CSOs on a similar basis of full consultation and participation.
- Discussions were wide-ranging and passionate and were informed by a number of basic themes. Prominent among these was a recognition that democratisation and civil society were a reality that could not be ignored. The demands for greater participation of all vulnerable groups, that is women, the youth, and the disabled recurred throughout. The meeting recognised the threat of HIV and AIDS to AfricaвЂ™s prospects and acknowledged the fight against the pandemic as a priority for all as well as the causes of maternal mortality. Fight against these communicable diseases should be premised on the eradication of poverty.
- However, participants acknowledged that much more needed to be done to realise the objectives of the AU and the NEPAD programme. The meeting convened into five working groups to pursue these issues, namely the role of civil society on (1) governance and democracy and NEPAD; (2) peace and security; (3) AU Organs; (4) development and resource mobilisation; and (5) youth development. The meeting then agreed to the following recommendations.
- The meeting had extensive briefing and discussion on the issue of human security. It took note of the centrality of human security in the overall effort being deployed at national, regional and continental level towards sustainable development, and resolved to recommend that development policies of African governments should be informed by this concept.