The African CSO Secretariat
A bold, new thinking is emerging. It's a story that begins with recognizing the tremendous work that African Civil Society Organisations are carrying out on the continent, aiming to empower and unite citizens towards social justice and governmental accountability. Most of those CSOs are small, yet making a great impact in some of the most remote areas in Africa. Without them and the powerful will of citizens themselves, progress and development would happen but at a much slower pace.
From being seen as the 'lost continent', Africa has become the continent to watch out for and to invest in. The turnaround of Africa's economy gets a lot of attention and Africa's workforce will soon become the largest in the world. Conflict and fragility, corruption, unfair redistribution of wealth and poor social welfare systems, remain important challenges, but there is greater potential for positive change than ever before.
Africa has the potential to become a united continent where peace and just development can prevail. For that to happen Africa must rely on its human capital and Africans must shape their own future taking into account their interrelation with the rest of the world. African civil society can play a significant role in making it come true and must speak with one voice when the future of the continent is at stake. No one else but Africans themselves should dictate their roadmap to social justice, economic growth and political good governance.
Africa and the international development agenda
The UN-led process on Post 2015 will impact the world and in particular the most marginalised women, men and children. Most stakeholders want a global agenda post 2015 but the questions are: How is it being developed? What should this framework or architecture look like? Who will shape the agenda?
Co-chair of the UN High Level Panel, Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has acknowledged the need to ensure that the voice of the most marginalised will be heard at the highest level and will shape the Post 2015 agenda so that it responds to Africa's unique needs, challenges and strengths.
To contribute to this, the African CSO Secretariat has been set up with the strong support of President Sirleaf and the leadership of ACORD. The African position shall be Africa-led and consolidate and represent the voices of CSOs from across sub-Saharan Africa.
The role of the Secretariat does not stop with the February 2013 HLP Monrovia meeting. Its advocacy and influencing work will continue to make sure the African Civil Society propositions and non-negotiables are taken into account. The Africa CSO Secretariat will also ensure that citizens themselves and the grassroots participate in the definition of the Post 2015 national agenda from September 2013 to the 2015 deadline.
Uniting African Civil Society
"If you want to go quickly, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together"
- African proverb
As African CSOs, our ability to influence the Post 2015 agenda will rely on both our participative coordination and unity, and a strong intellectual leadership resulting in an African Narrative that will communicate the Africa civil society propositions to the highest political level.
The African Civil Society partners with the rest of the world, but shall remain independent and sovereign in defining our development priorities. This way, we will prevent ourselves from becoming the tools of foreign powers or followers rather than leaders of our own destiny.
The African CSO Secretariat
ACORD was directly mandated by Her Excellency President Sirleaf to lead the creation of the Secretariat, to recruit its Head and help provide a support team. Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso, of African Monitor, was appointed Head of the African CSO Secretariat late November 2012, following a rigorous recruitment process and much deliberation with partner organisations. Her strong technical background, current leadership amongst African CSOs, including proven experience with similar processes requiring strong participatory and inclusive leadership, made her the ideal person to lead the secretariat.
ACORD and African Monitor share the desire that Africa should not only participate, but be amongst the key architects of the post 2015 agenda. Different from the way the Millennium Development Goals came about, there is the wish that Africa should largely be responsible for shaping the post 2015 agenda and bring out the needs of the grassroots and citizens themselves. For this to happen, African CSOs need to work in partnerships and leverage; that is what ACORD and African Monitor are actively working on with African civil society and other partners across the continent.