African Civil Society Delegation Holds High Level Talks with President Johnson-Sirleaf, co-Chair of UN panel on Development
The African Civil Society Delegation meeting with Liberian President Hon. Johnson-Sirleaf in Monrovia
Left-Right: Mr. Mwangi Waituru (Coordinator of Beyond 2015 movement), Hon. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (President of the Republic of Liberia), Dr. Tolbert Thomas Jallah (Secretary General of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa), Mrs. Salina Sanou (Head of Policy and Advocacy, ACORD), Ms. Sonia Kwami (African Coordinator to the Call to Action Against Poverty - GCAP), Mr. Alphonso Weah (Executive Director of Youth for Community Academic and Development Services - YOCADS), Mr. Charles Abugure (African Regional Director of the UN Millenium Campaign)
On July 12th, 2012, ACORD led a delegation of African civil society representatives to a meeting in Monrovia, Liberia to discuss the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the post 2015 agenda with the President of Liberia, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
President Johnson-Sirleaf is one of three co-chairs of the high-level panel on post 2015 agenda appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Together with the British Prime Minister David Cameron and Indonesian President Yudhoyono she will lead a process to start identifying a new international framework for development when the current MDGs expire in 2015.
Salina Sanou of ACORD explained on behalf of the CSO delegation that they had been organising to provide a channel for citizen and civil society voices and actions for the achievement of the MDGs and to contribute to shaping the successor framework to the MDGs. The meeting was in the context of efforts to mobilize civil society across the continent to feed into the Rio+20 process, to find ways to bring extra urgency for the realization of the MDGs by 2015, and to help in meaningful ways in the shaping of the post-2015 agenda.
Participatory and Inclusive Leadership
President Johnson-Sirleaf said that the new global agenda will draw from the voices of the people. Speaking in her office in Monrovia to the group of African CSOs, the co-Chair said that she would pursue a participatory and inclusive leadership in the process. "At my meeting with fellow leaders in Addis Ababa at the African Union Summit, I will let them know that the successor agenda to the MDGs cannot be hatched from the ivory tower. It has to come from engaging the people from the grassroots. I really believe in this".
President Johnson-Sirleaf welcomed the initiatives taken by African CSO coalitions to launch consultations and dialogue ahead of the formal UN process. These post-2015 consultations must also be an opportunity to bring urgency to the achievement of the MDGs in the remaining time. "The remaining three years are ample time enough to make significant progress", she said.
The co-Chair is fully aware of the need for working fast to have a report ready for the 2013 United Nations General Assembly. The Global UN secretariat for the High Level Panel will be fully set up and the co-chairs will formally meet in September 2012. It is only after the September meeting that things will become clearer, she said.
The President welcomed the plans, announced by the visiting CSO delegation, to organize a pan-African CSOs conference in Liberia on the post-2015 development agenda in October 2012. The offer presented by ACORD to provide the co-Chair with a Secretariat was also highly welcomed by President Johnson-Sirleaf. This Secretariat will be important in channeling CSO voices and inputs, she asserted.
ACORD's Executive Director, Mr. Ousainou Ngum, welcoming the President's acceptance to host a CSO forum in October 2012, said "we are delighted that the leadership of the post 2015 dialogue realizes the supremacy of the people in shaping their destiny. This is an essential ingredient for the legitimacy of the post MDGs framework."
African civil society specific offers of support:
- Secretariat as a streamlined channel for civil society input into the process: We are conscious of the breadth of the civil society movements in our continent and the difficulty posed to governments on how and who to engage with. The coalition of CSO groups, will like to establish and manage a focal point secretariat that will be something of a clearing house and channel of the views emerging from the continent which will be meaningful for ensuring a coordinated and integrated process of ascertaining African positions for the post-2015 agenda.
- Bringing the voices of the poorest to the table: we will use our various grassroots networks to reach the poor and the marginalized and to bring them and their views to the table especially as part of the UN-led country level consultations which 24 African countries have currently signed on to.
- On-line mobilization and opinion pooling: We are working towards using ICTs, including on-line mechanisms, to bring millions of Africans especially the women, youth and persons with disability into the conversations.
African civil society minimum Requests:
- Civil Society coalitions are planning to hold a pan-African Conference in Monrovia to offer the co-chair an opportunity to engage the African CSOs. They would kindly request the co-chair to deliver a key note address. This conference will bring together organizations involved in the fight against poverty, women and people's rights and on the MDGs and post-2015 agenda.
- Your secretariat and the global one will be open and inclusive. We expect that the Terms of Reference of the High Panel will emphasize: a) inclusion of CSOs as members of Panel and in the secretariat, b) the Secretariat is composed in a balanced way with regard to developed and developing countries, especially Africa, regardless of where the funding comes from; c) the necessity of ensuring that the process and outcome reflects interests and responds to the aspirations of poorest of the poor. d) synergy between the process to develop Sustainable Development Goals coming out of Rio+20 and the Post 2015 Process.
- That the country-level consultation processes led by UNDP and the thematic consultation processes led by other UN agencies, are open and inclusive - making special efforts to bring in the voices of the poor.
- That in the process of shaping the post-2015 agenda, you will use your good offices to ensure that all efforts are made to achieve the MDGs by 2015, including commitments with regards to Goal 8 - debt, aid, trade, essential medicines and technology transfer.