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Taking the New Partnership for Africa's Development seriously - November 2002

1. Introduction
The Advocacy Network for Africa (ADNA) is a progressive non-partisan network of over 200 US organizations at the national, regional, state, and local level. Our initiatives address issues of peace and security; human, civil, political, and women's rights; environmentally and economically sustainable development for poverty eradication; social justice, popular participation, and good governance; and humanitarian and crisis relief.

Our network, under the name of the Southern Africa Working Group (SAWG), was founded to mobilize action in solidarity with the anti-apartheid and grassroots liberation movements in southern Africa. With the successes of those movements during the late 1980s and early 1990s, we adopted a new name - the Advocacy Network for Africa - and began to address a broad spectrum of US-Africa foreign policy issues, with an expanded focus on sub-Saharan Africa. NEPAD naturally became a recent focus of our attention.

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), emerging from African government initiatives and endorsed by the African Union, is receiving increasing attention internationally, including among the G-7 countries and within the United States. NEPAD seeks to create a strategic common vision among African governments, with a commitment toward eradicating poverty and supporting sustainable development based on improved access to capital, technology and human skills and resources. In the process, it outlines conditions for development and conditions for relationship that originate in Africa, not in the West, and envisions partnership rather than subservient relations. Its emerging African Peer Review Mechanism is seeking to set standards within Africa for good political governance.

As advocacy organizations concerned with justice and sustainable development in Africa, and justice in US policy toward Africa, we are well aware of the criticisms directed toward NEPAD from progressive NGOs and civil society in Africa and around the world. We deeply regret the absence of African civil society participation in the evolution of the document itself, and we affirm that this renders NEPAD seriously flawed. We will be listening closely to African NGO partners as they are now becoming more familiar with and responding to the NEPAD agenda.

We also recognize that NEPAD embraces a neo-liberal economic agenda. It may well prove to be true that this approach renders NEPAD fatally flawed. We look skeptically at the view that NEPAD seems to articulate, namely that while economic globalization has failed Africa, Africa needs more of those same policies.

Nevertheless, we see in NEPAD an opportunity for a deeper and broader debate about development as more than the mere absence of poverty, disease, violence and basic human rights violations. We see this even though we recognize that NEPAD's proponents underscore its political process aspects over its sustainable economic development agenda. We therefore emphasize, in this document, the breadth of issues NEPAD raises, with primacy toward that which would affirm the dignity of all citizens of African countries. This document then proceeds to identify appropriate strategic indicators that would measure the seriousness with which the United States treats issues and citizens alike.

Fundamental to our approach is the conviction that partnership with Africa is defined by a concern for the common good, and that the definition of the common good is not limited to such global economic indicators as GDP, trade balance and foreign reserves. What follows, then, are statements of what we have read in the NEPAD document and - influenced by African civil society responses to NEPAD - what we believe would be appropriate indicators related to US policy.

They appear under the following rubrics:
  1. Peace and security

  2. Democracy

  3. Human rights

  4. Economic development

  5. Education

  6. Health

  7. Gender equality and opportunity
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