The 4th General Assembly of Social Watch got underway in Ghana’s capital, Accra, on Tuesday. Over 100 delegates from about 60 countries are attending the three-day meeting.
The meeting, the first to be held in Africa since Social Watch was formed in 1995, is on the theme ‘People First: Social Watch’s response to the global crisis’. The Assembly will examine the implications of the systemic crisis on human, gender and social rights and offer alternative solutions to these global challenges.
The Assembly, which meets every three years, will set medium- and long-term priorities and identify potential alliances in advocacy strategy. Participants will also elect members of the Coordinating Committee to coordinate and offer political leadership between assemblies.
Ghana’s vice president John Mahama, who was the special guest at the opening ceremony, said relentless demands by citizen groups and social movements, such as Social Watch, for accountability from both governments and international institutions have had significant impact on national and global policy decision-making processes and implementation of adopted policies.
The Ghana government, vice president Mahama said, ‘will not shirk its social contract with the people by sacrificing their welfare on the altar of fiscal and monetary expediency’. As such, government has its eyes ‘wide open’ in the country’s dealings with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and other multilateral institutions.
The 4th Social Watch General Assembly takes of today, Monday 26, 2009 with a Coordinating Committee Meeting. The General Assembly sessions start tomorrow Tuesday, October 27 to 29 at the M-Plaza Hotel at. On Thursday, October 29, at 4 pm, there will be a public event at the International Press Centre.
The various workshops will be centred around the following topics:
*Financing for development
*Climate and environmental issues
*Analysis of anti-poverty programmes
*concept of social development
*Human resource approach to poverty
*Human Resource Budget analysis and Social indicators.
All programmes begin at 9.00am and end at 5.30 pm except for the last day Thursday, which ends at 2.30pm to make way for the public event at the Press Centre at 4pm.
The opening session will be addressed by His Excellency the Vice President.
Addis Ababa, 22 October 2009 (ECA) – Good governance in Africa is everyone’s job, not just the compliers of reports or even government officials, a governance expert said.
“The burden is upon all of us to claim ownership of this report,” said Mr. Said Adejumobi, chief of the Public Administration Section of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. “So go ahead, take it! It’s yours!”
Mr. Adejumobi made his comments during a press launch of the second edition of the African Governance Report (AGR II). AGR II is an overview of the state of governance in 35 African countries. It is the most comprehensive report on the subject for Africa. It assess and monitors progress countries are making on issues, identifies capacity gaps and makes policy recommendations on improving governance on the continent.
AGR II’s overall message is that only marginal progress has been made in terms of governance since the last report was compiled almost four years ago. For example, human rights and the rule of law improved slightly overall – by two and three percent respectively. African economies over all are better managed; and the “big man” syndrome of the strong executive is receding in many parts of the continent.
However, major challenges still remain. Corruption “constitutes the single most important challenge in Africa,” Mr. Adejumobi said. It was the general perception of most people surveyed for the report that all governance institutions were corrupt – the executive, judiciary, legislative, even civil society organizations weren’t immune from being tarred with the corruption brush, he continued.
Mr. Adejumobi explained that the report used three research instruments to gather information in each country: an expert panel (around 100 drawn from different facets of society), household surveys (around 3,000 ordinary people surveyed) and desk research (basically examining the existing information). In answer to a question he explained that the material gathered by these methods was sometimes at odds, and when it is the case, AGR II points out these discrepancies.
For example, the governmental reports showed substantial improvements in the continents economy. However, this wasn’t reflected in the household surveys. On the ground, people were reporting that this improvement had not trickled down to them. Things were still tough, Mr. Adejumobi said.
On a more positive note, AGR II underlines the remarkable progress made in the place of women in public life. Globally more women are represented in national parliaments in African countries than anywhere else in the world.
But perhaps one of the most important factors around AGR II is not within it, but the fact that it exists at all, Mr. Adejumobi said. When the report was in the planning stage, partner organizations believed international consultants would be necessary to do compile it. ECA declined that offer, saying that Africa had the capacity to look into governance in Africa itself. This report is the proof that it does, he said.
“We are telling our stories ourselves,” he said. “We have done these very scientific studies, ourselves. This is an African report, done by Africans.”
The English version of AGR II was published by Oxford University Press.
About 2,000 representatives of communities affected by mining in all major concession areas across Ghana attended the second annual national forum of the National Coalition on Mining (NCOM) in Akoti, a small community in the Sefwi-Wiawso District of the Western Region.
The forum effectively served a unique platform for mining-affected communities to both share experiences and collectively demand answers from government over the untenable balance sheet of mining communities and the country as a whole.
Ghana’s deputy Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, along with officials from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Ghana Minerals Commission represented government. The forum was also attended by traditional leaders, religious groups, women and youth networks.
Addressing the forum on behalf of the Concerned Citizens of Sefwi, Prince Amoako-Atta, who is also the leader of the group said since Chirano Gold Mine Limited (CGML) started its operations in the area the quality of life of the people has sharply deteriorated.