NewsBrief, 20-26 June 2012
- ECOWAS and UEMOA reinforce relationship with EU
- Three Boko Haram leaders blacklisted by US government
- Rio+20 applauds African growth, encourages commitment to sustainability
- World Refugee Day highlights increases in West Africa
- Tourism in West Africa limited by political turmoil
- ECOWAS promotes people-driven approach to regional integration
- The ECOWAS fight against money laundering trains Anglophone journalists
With the goals of reinforcing the relationship between West Africa and the European Union, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, and the President of the UEMOA Commission, Cheikh Hadjibou Soumaré, met with Andris Piebalgs, European Commissioner for Development, on 18 June in Brussels. More particularly, they exchanged views on the difficulties encountered in making progress on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations and the related EPA Development Programme (PAPED). The two presidents stressed the need to consider development challenges in West Africa, asking the EU to be flexible in pursuing negotiations on providing access to markets compatible with the development of the region. As part of improving dialogue, both parties agreed to create a mechanism for monitoring project implementation, disbursement of funds, and mobilisation of resources required to finance the EPA. The two regional leaders also asked the EU to provide the necessary support to consolidate peace and regional security and to enable Mali to recover its territorial integrity.
- Article in French: http://news.ecowas.int/presseshow.php?nb=173&lang=fr&annee=2012
After a week of violence instigated by the Islamist group Boko Haram and reprisal attacks left 150 dead in church attacks in northern Nigeria, the US government has blacklisted three Boko Haram leaders as global terrorists. In addition to recent attacks on churches, Boko Haram members also stormed a prison on 24 June in northern Nigeria, freeing 40 prisoners. The leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau, is on the US list of terrorists, along with two members, Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid el Barnawi, who are believed to have ties with al-Qaeda. President Goodluck Jonathan sacked his security advisor and defence minister after the attacks, stating that Boko Haram is "changing their tactics every day, so you also have to change your staff and personnel." He also added that he would be happy to open dialogue with Boko Haram but insisted that "We must have a face to tell us why you are doing what you are doing and then of course we dialogue." The president was recently criticised by opposition members of parliament for attending the Rio+20 Summit amidst the security crisis.
- Article in English: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18542030
- Article in French: http://fr.allafrica.com/stories/201206201214.html
At the Africa Day sideline meetings at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro on 20-22 June, African leaders applauded the measurable progress accomplished over the past two decades, but put emphasis on the necessity of maintaining strong leadership in order to counteract the new challenges facing the continent. African nations are called upon to increase South-South co-operation, while the international community was encouraged to make more focused investments, develop and transfer technologies and provide adequate financing in order to overcome the effects of climate change, water scarcity, energy crises and the global financial turmoil. The President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, stated that "the focus of this conference on the triple agenda of economic, social and ecological sustainability is central to our continent's future development strategy." Mr. Abdouille Janneh, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, insisted on Africa "strengthening its own house" through the implementation of policies on sustainable development based on good governance. One of the main themes of the conference, green growth and green economy, were particularly relevant to the African continent, with participants encouraging the development of "Africa's ecological wealth" through investments in natural capital and new technologies.
- Article in English: http://www.ghananewsagency.org/details/Politics/Hundreds-attend-Africa-Day-celebrations-in-Rio/?ci=2&ai=45237
- Article in French: http://www.afdb.org/fr/news-and-events/article/africa-has-great-expectations-from-rio-20-says-afdb-president-9418/
20 June marked the World Refugee Day, shining light on the large increases in the number of refugees in the West African region. The UNHCR reports that over 80 percent of refugees are located in developing countries, while West Africa saw an increase of 66% of refugees over the course of 2011. This increase does not include the influx of refugees from Mali that has occurred thus far in 2012, with some 150 000 internally displaced people within the country, and 210 000 refugees registered in neighbouring countries. To commemorate the day in a Burkinabe refugee camp, Mentao, a delegation from Burkina Faso and Mali lent their support to "all Malian refugees fleeing the horrors of war and insecurity." The camp hosts 12 550 refugees mostly made up of Tuaregs and Fulani people. Since the start of the conflict in northern Mali, nine camps have supported over 35 000 refugees in Burkina Faso. In Liberia, at least 200 Ivoirian refugees have been registered recently, according to government officials, adding to the 67 000 already residing there. The World Refugee Day also coincides with the repatriation of Liberian refugees from Ghana who will officially lose refugee status on 30 June, due to returned stability in their nation.
- Report in English: http://www.unhcr.org/4fd6f87f9.html
- Article in French: http://www.aib.bf/spip.php?article1361
On 24 June, ministers of tourism from 15 ECOWAS member countries gathered for the first Tourism Ministerial Summit in Banjul. Particular emphasis was placed on the necessity of overcoming political turmoil in order to develop tourism in the region; The Minister of Tourism and Culture from The Gambia, Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, said that "Without peace and tranquillity, the development of sub-regional tourism will only remain a dream for our countries no matter how unique and interesting our products can be; no matter how qualitative our services are; and no matter how aggressive our marketing activities are." With a region with yet un-visited diverse natural and cultural attractions, the region could become "a tourist haven in Africa". ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs, Industry, Mines, Free Movement and Tourism, Ahmed Hamid, insisted that the tourism sector should be given as much consideration as other sectors and urged that governments to help develop it. The meeting concluded with the ministers coming up with a recommendation for a set of standards for tourism in the ECOWAS region.
- Article in English: http://allafrica.com/stories/201206251061.html
An ECOWAS workshop hosted in Accra on 22 June has called on member states to reduce "harassment, corruption and extortion by border agents" in order to facilitate the free movement of persons in the region. The workshop recommended that Member states install security cameras at border posts to monitor extortion from travellers and establish information and complaint desks at entry points to address abuses, two of the main impediments to the implementation of the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Goods, and the Rights of Residence and Establishment. The participants in the workshop insisted on a bottom-up approach which would incorporate greater involvement of citizens, particularly cross-border traders, in the formulation and implementation of protocols. Ghana's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, said, in order to have successful regional integration programmes, they must be "people-driven and people-centred," engaging citizens to take ownership of regional programmes. The workshop was attended by governmental and regional actors as well as representatives from civil society organisations, traders, market women, students associations and the media.
- Article in English: http://news.ecowas.int/presseshow.php?nb=175&lang=en&annee=2012
In order to assist in the fight against money laundering and financing terrorism, the Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a specialised ECOWAS agency, has started training journalists to produce reports and improve networks to facilitate the dissemination of information on the issue. Starting with Anglophone journalists in The Gambia, the aim is to provide general knowledge on the Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (ML/FT) framework. The GIABA states that "the seminar is designed to build strong alliance with the media to improve the network among journalists in the region." The media is a particularly important tool in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing as it is an "efficient means to inform the wider population about the deleterious effects of money laundering and terrorist financing."
- Article in English: http://www.giaba.org/press/view_56.html
International Land Coalition: Land Governance in Africa
Placed within a historical context through the examination of various land governance frameworks, this report expands on the current debate on land policies in Africa. The relationship between large-scale commercial estates and smallholders, particularly regarding the "land-grabbing" debate, necessitate an investigation of the various economic, political and social factors that have shaped land governance within African regions. It outlines innovations that have developed in non-state land administration, major policy directions in different contexts, and efforts to implement new approaches to the "land question" among particular groups, such as community organisations. The report argues that a better understanding of the contexts can contribute to future policy directions. It concludes by proposing a framework that would minimise social conflicts over land, ensure greater transparency in land management, and ensure that small land holders and other customary land users can continue making important contributions to the national economy and to their communities.
- Report in English: http://www.landcoalition.org/sites/default/files/publication/1271/FramingtheDebateLandGovernanceAfrica.pdf
ECDPM: Can the Pan-African Programme revitalise the JAES?
Although the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) adopted in 2007 has gained significant movement, several shortcomings prevent it from delivering fully on its goals. This ECDPM Briefing Note suggests the potentials that a new 1 billion euro package, called the "Pan-African Programme (PAP),"can have to support the implementation of the JAES. One of the main criticisms of the JAES, according to the authors, is the lack of dedicated resources for its implementation. The paper attempts to lay out a strategy behind the negotiations on the establishment of the PAP, which aims to support the implementation of the JAES with a focus on added value of cross-regional and continental activities. It highlights the need for political decisions to be taken regarding European engagement with Africa, as well as some of the opportunities and challenges presented in the Commission's proposal. The authors argue that the PAP should be flexible enough to accommodate contributions from EU member countries, African countries, international financial institutions and the private sector.
- Report in English: http://www.ecdpm.org/Web_ECDPM/Web/Content/Download.nsf/0/5437450FC5162E47C1257A28006C9E9C/$FILE/Briefing%20note%2042%20PAP-JAES%20last.pdf
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