UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
E/ECA/CM.21/6 (Part I)
United Nations, following two similar ones convened in Bucharest in 1974 and Mexico City in 1984,
Compared with the Bucharest and Mexico conferences, ICPD.94 received a broader mandate reflect-ing the growing recognition of the linkages between population, environment and development. Much effort was invested in the preparation of ICPD.94, including the convening of regional conferences, expert group meetings and round-table meetings. The third African Population Conference held in Dakar, Senegal, in December 1992, which came out with the Dakar/Ngor Declaration, was among the regional preparatory meetings for the Conference. The results of this process were submitted to three sessions of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom), which drafted a Programme of Action. The final draft Programme of Action adopted in April 1994 during the PrepCom III contained numerous unresolved issues (including the Preamble and the Principles) which were left for further negotiations in Cairo. After lengthy and intensive consulta-tions and discussions, participants in ICPD.94 adopted by consensus a Programme of Action comprising 16 chapters.
The Cairo Conference was attended by 180 United Nations Member States and several observers, including intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) accredited to the Conference. Plenary sessions were held throughout the Conference, due to a long list of speakers. A main committee was set up to examine the final draft Programme of Action of the Conference, most parti-cularly the two chapters (Preamble and Principles) that were not negotiated at PrepCom III and all the bracketed issues, i.e., questions on which a consensus had not yet been reached. An NGO Forum, attended by 1,000 NGOs working in the field of population, women, development and related areas, ran concurrently with the ICPD.94.
The Executive Secretary of ECA delivered a statement at the plenary session. Pre-Conference con- sultations were held in Cairo to consider organizational and procedural matters by the African Group. These meetings were serviced jointly by ECA and OAU.
The forty-ninth session of the General Assembly considered the ICPD report on 17 and 18 November 1994 and discussed its implementation. Chapter XVI of the Programme of Action provided the basis for the debate of the General Assembly. Following the debate, the General Assembly adopted a resolution agreeing to a regular review of the implementation of the programme and requesting the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to provide system-wide coordination in monitoring the implementation and review the United Nations reporting system.
C. Review of the main recommendations of the Programme of Action of ICPD
and the Dakar/Ngor Declaration
The Programme of Action of ICPD and the Dakar/Ngor Declaration, as noted above, will constitute the two basic frameworks guiding population policies in African countries within the next decade and beyond.
The Programme of Action, apart from chapters on the preamble, principles, national action, interna- tional cooperation, partnership with the non-government sector and follow-up to the Conference, covers 11 subject areas, namely interrelationship between populations; sustained economic growth and sustainable development; gender equality, equity and empowerment of women; the family, its roles, rights, composition and structure; population growth and structure; reproductive rights and reproductive health; health, morbidity and mortality; population distribution, urbanization and internal migration; international migration; popula-tion, development and education; and technology, research and development.
Similarly, the Dakar/Ngor Declaration, apart from the preamble, principles and objectives, resource mobilization and follow-up and implementation, covers 11 subject areas, namely population, sustained economic growth and sustainable development; family; fertility and family planning; mortality, morbidity and HIV/AIDS; urbanization, migration and physical planning; refugees and displaced persons; women in development; children; youth; data collection and analysis, information dissemination, training and research. One of the features of the Declaration is that it set quantitative targets for African countries to guide the implementation of Kilimanjaro Programme of Action (KPA) and made recommendations for the establish-ment of a Follow-up Committee to monitor such implementation.
For purposes of analysis, the aforementioned subject areas of the Dakar/Ngor Declaration and the Programme of Action of ICPD have been grouped into five basic subject groups. This section examines commonalities and areas of emphasis in the various recommendations contained in the two frameworks according to the five subject groups. Although the Programme of Action buttresses the Dakar/Ngor Declara-tion, it should nonetheless be observed that while the Declaration addresses African population concerns, the Programme of Action addresses global population issues. Therefore, the Programme of Action is broadly based, while the Declaration is specific to the African situation.
1. Population, sustained economic growth and sustainable development
Both the Declaration and the Programme of Action underline the importance of the integration of population policies/concerns in development strategies, planning and programmes. To this end, the Declara-tion urges African countries to focus attention on strengthening the social sector, and subnational imple-mentation institutions and enhance the exchange of experiences in population policy and programme formula-tion. Given the prevailing high rates of population growth in the region, the Declaration set a target of bringing down the regional population growth rate from 3.0 to 2.5 per cent by the year 2000 and to 2 per cent in 2010.
The Programme of Action calls on countries to promote social justice and eradicate poverty at the international, regional and local levels in the process of integrating population concerns in development planning.
Both frameworks reflect the recommendations of the Agenda 21 of the Rio Conference pertaining to population, environment and sustainable development. The Programme of Action, for example, advocates that development strategies must realistically reflect the short-, medium- and long-term implications of, and consequences for population dynamics as well as patterns of production and consumption; the Declaration, for its part, calls on African countries to tackle the underlying cases of environmental degradation.
2. Family, gender equality, equity and empowerment of women
Both the Declaration and the Programme of Action urge countries to take steps to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, especially the girl child.
The Declaration emphasizes the adoption of a national policy to improve the role, status and participation of women, by for example, strengthening programmes for reforming the educational system and making special provision for the education of girls.
The Programme of Action implores countries to empower women, enhance their contributions to sustainable development by involving them in policy- and decision-making processes and fostering their participation in socio-economic and cultural activities.
Regarding the family, the Declaration calls on countries to take account of the rights and respon- sibilities of all family members and take measures to protect them from socio-economic distress and dis-integration, and integrate women's concerns in all development strategies, policies and programmes.
The Programme of Action exhorts countries to develop policies and laws that support the family and contribute to its stability, and to promote equality of opportunity for family members especially women and children.
3. Reproductive rights and reproductive health,
fertility and family planning
The Declaration and Programme of Action underscore the importance of making accessible through the primary health care system, reproductive health to all individuals.
The Declaration calls upon countries to create a conducive socio-economic climate and sustained poli- tical will for the pursuit of effective fertility policies, ensuring the availability of contraceptive and fertility regulation methods, and set a target for increasing regional contraceptive use.
The Programme of Action urges countries to make available comprehensive information and a full range of reproductive, health care services, including family planning, accessible, affordable, acceptable and convenient to all users. It emphasizes that countries facilitate and support responsible voluntary decisions about child-bearing and methods of family planning of their choice, which are not against national laws. Moreover, it advocates the basic right of all couples and individuals to be well informed in and have the means to decide freely and responsibly on the number, spacing and timing of their children.
4. Health, morbidity, mortality and HIV/AIDS
The Declaration and Programme of Action implore countries to implement programmes to reduce mortality and set targets for the enhancement of life expectancy, and reduction of infant, under-five and maternal mortality.
The Declaration assigns priority to combating infant, child and maternal mortality along with the establishment of programmes to tackle the spread of HIV/AIDS. The Programme of Action calls on coun- tries to increase the accessibility, availability and affordability of health care services and facilities, enhance the healthy life-span and quality of life of all people and introduce programmes to prevent and reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV/AIDS.
5. Population distribution, urbanization and migration
The two frameworks recommend that durable solutions to the plight of refugees and displaced persons should be sought at the national level with international cooperation.
The Declaration underlined that countries should address urbanization and migration issues from a comprehensive integrated perspective. It also recommends that regional planning should attempt to achieve a more equitable distribution of all development efforts. Countries are called upon to improve city management and intensify rural development programmes.
The Programme of Action advocates for measures to be taken to tackle the following issues: pre- vention of the exploitation of undocumented migrants and promotion through family reunion of the normalization of family life of legal migrants.
D. Follow-up activities
ECA, in collaboration with OAU and the African Development Bank (ADB), places emphasis on the implementation of the recommendations of the Dakar/Ngor Declaration as well as of the Programme of Action of ICPD. To this end, a Follow-up Committee has been set up to monitor the Declaration and, henceforth, also the Programme of Action of ICPD.94.
More generally, during 1994 and 1995, the following activities have been and/or are envisaged to be undertaken to monitor both the Declaration and the Programme of Action. The first meeting of the Follow-up Committee for the implementation of the Dakar/Ngor Declaration was held in Addis Ababa on 24 and 25 March 1994; a post-ICPD Consultative Meeting was held at New York on 14 and 15 December 1994. It was attended by the Chief of the Population Division and the Population Coordinator. A regional consultation on the implementation of the Dakar/Ngor Declaration and ICPD.94 Programme of Action is planned for 1995.
During the biennium 1996-1997, the following activities have been programmed: a report to the Joint Conference of African Planners, Statisticians, Demographers and Information Scientists on progress towards the implementation of the Dakar/Ngor Declaration and Programme of Action of ICPD.94 in ECA member States; second meeting of the Follow-up Committee for the implementation of the Dakar/Ngor Declaration; technical publication on factors that promote or constrain the implementation of the Dakar/Ngor Declaration and Programme of Action of ICPD.94; and advisory missions on the implementation of population policies.
The ICPD, as already noted, requires on the willingness of governments, local communities, the non- governmental sector, the international community and all other concerned organizations and individuals to turn the recommendations of the Conference into action.
The follow-up activities envisaged include policy guidance, encompassing building strong political support at all levels for population and development; resource mobilization, coordination and mutual accountability of efforts to implement the Programme of Action; problem solving and sharing of experience within and between countries; monitoring and reporting of progress in the implementation of the Programme of Action.
At the subregional and regional level, "regional commission, organizations of the United Nations system functioning at the regional level, and other relevant subregional and regional organizations should play an active role within their mandates regarding the implementation of this Programme of Action through subregional and regional initiatives on population and development".
The Follow-up Committee on the joint implementation of the Dakar/Ngor Declaration and the Pro-gramme of Action of ICPD has been already set up and it held its first meeting in Addis Ababa on 24 and 25 March 1994. This meeting adopted a programme of work for 1994-1998 and established a working group to assist the Follow-up Committee. The first post-Cairo meeting of the Follow-up Committee is expected to convene next year. The work of this Committee, along with other activities mentioned above to be implemented this year and in the 1996-1997 biennium, should assist efforts to turn the recommenda- tions of the Dakar/Ngor Declaration and the Programme of Action of ICPD.94 into action in African coun-tries.
II. WORLD SUMMIT FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
By resolution 47/92, the General Assembly decided to convene a World Summit for Social Develop-ment at the level of heads of State or government in Copenhagen, Denmark. The General Assembly resolution stressed, inter alia, that the Summit is to "formulate strategies on goals, policies and priority actions that could be taken at the national, regional and international levels to address, in the different development realities, core issues of shared universal concern in the field of social development, giving parti-cular attention to the needs of the least developed countries". The resolution further stipulated the enhance-ment of social integration, alleviation and reduction of poverty and expansion of productive employment as core issues to be addressed by the Summit.
The draft documentation for the Summit was prepared by a Special Preparatory Committee, which held an organizational meeting from 12 to 16 April 1993 and three subsequent sessions during 1994 and 1995. The World Summit for Social Development took place from 6 to 12 March 1995. It was attended by 118 world leaders, the largest global gathering ever assembled at that level. At the end of the Summit, a Declaration and a Programme of Action were adopted.
The Declaration contains a declarative statement by the heads of State or government which provides an analysis of the current social situation, states the reasons for convening the Summit and outlines the main principles and goals of social development. This is then followed by ten commitments to be undertaken by the Summit in the following areas:
(a) Creating an enabling economic, political, social, cultural and legal environment for the achievement of social development;
(b) Eradication of poverty in the world through decisive national actions and international cooperation;
(c) Promoting full employment as a basic priority;
(d) Promoting social integration by fostering societies that are stable, safe and just and based on the promotion and projection of all human rights, tolerance and respect for diversity;
(e) Promoting full respect for human dignity and achieving equality and equity between men and women;
(f) Promoting and attaining the goals of universal and equitable access to quality education, the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and the access of all to primary health care.
(g) Accelerating the economic, social and human resource development of Africa and the least developed countries;
(h) Ensuring that structural adjustment programmes include social development goals;
(i) Increasing significantly and/or utilizing more efficiently the resources allocated to social development; and
(j) Improving and strengthening the framework for international, regional and subregional cooperation for social development through the United Nations and other multilateral institutions.
The Programme of Action outlines policies, actions and measures to implement the principles and fulfil the commitments made in the Declaration. It has the following chapters:
(a) An enabling environment for social development;
(b) Eradication of poverty;
(c) The expansion of productive employment and the reduction of unemployment;
(d) Social integration; and
(e) Implementation and follow-up.
B. The African Common Position on Human and Social Development in Africa
It will be recalled that by resolution 749 (XXVIII), entitled "Preparations for the World Summit for Social Development", the ECA Conference of Ministers decided in May 1993 that "an African common posi-tion on the issues before the World Social Development Summit should be formulated by the January 1994 meeting of the Conference of African Ministers responsible for Human Development which should serve as the regional preparatory meeting for the Summit". It also requested the Executive Secretary of ECA "to pre-pare, in cooperation with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and other African regional and subre-gional organizations, the necessary documentation for the meeting, including a draft African common posi-tion on the issues before the Summit". The Executive Secretary of ECA was further requested to "transmit the African common position to the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee of the Summit, which is scheduled to be held in New York from 31 January to 11 February 1994". This resolution was subsequently adopted by the Economic and Social Council as resolution 1993/64 of 30 July 1993.
In compliance with these directives, the ECA secretariat organized the first meeting of the Con- ference of African Ministers responsible for Human Development in Addis Ababa from 17 to 21 January 1994 and presented to it a draft document, which the secretariat prepared in cooperation with the OAU secre-tariat, entitled "Draft African Common Position on the World Summit for Social Development". Following the deliberations on this document, the Conference adopted a document entitled "African Common Position on Human and Social Development in Africa" which it subsequently transmitted to the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit for Social Development. The African Common Position was then issued as an official document of the Preparatory Committee (A/CONF.166/PC/10/Add.1) under cover of a note by the Secretary-General (A/CONF.166/PC/10).
At the level of OAU, the African Common Position was subsequently presented to and adopted by the seventeenth ordinary session of the OAU Labour Commission, held in Addis Ababa from 18 to 24 April 1994 and was also endorsed by the sixtieth ordinary session of the OAU Council of Ministers in Tunis on 11 June 1994. The thirtieth ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, which took place in Tunis from 13 to 15 June 1994, endorsed the African Common Position and adopted a "Declaration on Social Development" [AHG/Dec. 5(XXX)]. The Common Position document provides an assessment of the state of human and social development in Africa, outlines Africa's major human and social development objectives, elaborates an actionable agenda for human and social development and sets out the modalities for implementing, monitoring, evaluating and reporting on the Common Position.
C. The African Common Position and the Summit documentation
Africa was the first region to prepare and submit to the first session of the Preparatory Committee, in January 1994, a regional common position on the issues before the Summit. This fact together with the regular participation and intervention of the Chairman of the Conference of African Ministers responsible for Human Development at the meetings of the Preparatory Committee as well as active lobbying of the African Group in New York has helped in bringing the concerns of Africa to the fore.
In general, the African Common Position was well received by the Preparatory Committee and the Summit and several sections of the final documents of the Summit did refer to the seriousness of the social situation in Africa and the need to pay special attention and introduce special measures to deal with it. In this regard, it is instructive to mention commitment 7 of the Declaration which relates to "accelerating the economic, social and human resource development of Africa and the least developed countries", which further states:
"To this end, we will:
(a) Implement at the national level structural adjustment policies, which should include social development goals, and effective development strategies that establish a more favourable climate for trade and investment, give priority to human resource development and further promote the development of democratic institutions;
(b) Support the domestic efforts of Africa and the least developed countries to implement economic reforms, programmes to increase food security and commodity diversification efforts through international cooperation, including South-South cooperation, technical and financial assistance, as well as trade and partnership;
(c) Find effective, development-oriented and durable solutions to external debt problems, through the immediate implementation of the terms of debt forgiveness agreed upon in the Paris Club in December 1994, which encompass debt reduction, including cancellation or other debt-relief measures; invite the international financial institutions to examine innovative approaches to assist low-income countries with a high proportion of multilateral debt, with a view to alleviating the debt burden; develop techniques of debt conversion applied to social development programmes and projects in conformity with Summit priorities. These actions should take into account the mid-term review of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s and the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the 1990s, and should be implemented as soon as possible;
(d) Ensure the implementation of the strategies and measures for the development of Africa decided by the international community and support the reform efforts, development stra-tegies and programmes decided by the African countries and the least developed countries;
(e) Increase official development assistance, both in total and for social programmes, consistent with countries' economic circumstances and capacity to assist, and consistent with commit-ments in international agreements;
(f) Consider ratifying the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those coun-tries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa, and support African countries in the implementation of urgent action to combat desertification and miti-gate the effects of drought;
(g) Take all necessary measures aimed at ensuring that communicable diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, do not restrict or reverse progress in economic and social development.
The Programme of Action document is also interspersed with references to Africa. Examples of such references are found under section C of chapter V "Implementation and follow-up" on the "mobilization of financial resources", including the following:
Implementation of the Declaration and the Programme of Action in developing countries, in parti-cular in Africa and the least developed countries, will need additional financial resources and more effective development cooperation and assistance. This will require:
"Translating the commitments of the Summit into financial implications for social develop-ment programmes in developing countries, particularly Africa and the least developed coun-tries".
Other sub-paragraphs of the Plan of Action, which appear under paragraph 90 calling for substantial debt reduction that are of relevance to Africa, include the following:
"(b) Adopting measures to substantially reduce the bilateral debts of the least developed coun- tries, in particular the countries of Africa, as soon as possible, and exploring other innova-tive approaches to managing and alleviating the onerous debts and debt-service burdens of other developing countries as soon as possible;
"(c) Giving special consideration to those developing countries where the multilateral debt consti-tutes an important part of their total debt in order to seek a durable solution to this increas-ing problem;
"(d) Mobilizing the resources of the IDA Debt Reduction Facility in order to help eligible developing countries to reduce their commercial debt; considering alternative mechanisms to complement that facility."
D. Follow-up actions by ECA and the United Nations system
A comprehensive framework for follow-up and assessment of the outcome of the Summit is envisaged, as contained under section V-D of the Programme of Action. The Programme of Action designates the General Assembly as the principal policy-making and appraisal organ on matters relating to the Summit. The General Assembly is expected to include an item entitled "Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development" on its agenda in 1996 and also to hold a special session, in the year 2000, for an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the Summit as well as consider any further actions and initiatives as appropriate.
On the other hand, ECOSOC is to oversee system-wide coordination in the implementation of the outcome of the Summit. It is also called upon, at its 1995 substantive session, to "review the mandate agenda and composition of the Commission for Social Development, including considerations of the strengthening of the Commission, taking into account the need for synergizing with other related commis-sions and conference follow-up". The Programme of Action calls for the strengthening of the implementa-tion of the Summit outcome and specified that UNDP "should organize United Nations system efforts towards capacity building at the local, national and regional levels and support the coordinated implementa-tion of social development programmes through its network of field offices".
The Programme of Action calls on the United Nations system to "provide technical cooperation and other forms of assistance to the countries, in particular Africa and the least developed countries, in imple-menting the Declaration and Programme of Action". To this end, the United Nations system, including the technical and sectoral agencies and the Bretton Woods institutions, are requested to "expand and improve their cooperation in the field of social development to ensure that their efforts are complementary and where possible combining resources in joint initiatives for social development built around common objectives of the Summit". Achieving this objective requires reform and revitalization of the various parts of the United Nations system, in particular its operational activities. The Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) is also called on to consider how the participating entities might best coordinate their activities to implement the objectives of the Summit.
ECA is expected to play an active role in the promotion of the implementation of the outcomes of the Summit at the regional and subregional levels. In this regard, paragraph 95(g) stipulates the mandate of the regional commissions as follows:
"To promote implementation of the outcomes at the regional and subregional level, the regional com-missions of the United Nations, in cooperation with the regional intergovernmental organizations and banks could convene, on a biennial basis, a meeting at a high political level to review progress made towards fulfilling the outcome of the Summit, exchange views on their respective experiences and adopt the appropriate measures. The regional commissions should report through the appropriate mechanisms to ECOSOC on their outcome."
Commitment 10 of the Declaration envisages role for the regional commissions, upon request:
We commit ourselves to an improved and strengthened framework for international, regional and subregional cooperation for social development, in a spirit of partnership, through the United Nations and other multilateral institutions."
To this end, at the national level, we will:
"Adopt the appropriate measures and mechanisms for implementing and monitoring the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development, with the assistance, upon request, of the agencies, pro- grammes and regional commissions of the United Nations system, with broad participation of all sectors of civil society."
It is also to be recalled that paragraph 100 of the "African Common Position on Human and Social Development in Africa" made the joint ECA/OAU secretariat, with the support and active collaboration of ADB and other intergovernmental organizations, responsible for reporting to the Conference of African Ministers responsible for Human Development and its Ministerial Follow-up Committee of Fifteen on pro-gress made in the implementation of the "Actionable Agenda" of the Common Position.
The ECA secretariat will collaborate closely with member States and also with the agencies and organizations of the United Nations system to ensure effective follow-up and monitoring of the outcomes of the Summit. It will also collaborate with the OAU secretariat in the preparation of reports for the Con-ference of African Ministers responsible for Human Resources Development and its Ministerial Follow-up Committee of Fifteen on the implementation of the "Actionable Agenda" of the African Common Position.
Furthermore of subparagraph 96(b), of the Programme of Action stresses:
"Improvement of the efficiency and effectiveness of United Nations organizations in providing support for social development efforts at the national level, enhancement of their capacity to serve the objectives of the Summit, renew, reform and revitalize the various parts of the United Nations system, in particular its operational activities. All specialized agencies and related organizations of the United Nations system are invited to strengthen and adjust their activities, programmes and medium-term strategies, as appropriate, to take into account the follow-up to the Summit. Relevant governing bodies should review their policies, programmes, budgets and activities in this regard."
E. Follow-up actions by African countries to the outcomes of the Summit
and the African Common Position
The Declaration and Programme of Action commit all Member States of the United Nations to the implementation of the commitments, measures and actions contained therein. Within this framework, Member States are expected to promote an "integrated approach to the implementation of the Programme of Action at the national level, in accordance with national specificities".
Bilateral and multilateral agencies are called upon to support the formulation of national strategies for social development by:
(a) Assisting countries to strengthen or rebuild their capacities for formulating, coordinating, implementing and monitoring integrated strategies for social development; and
(b) Developing improved concepts and programmes of collection and dissemination of statistics and indicators for social development to facilitate review and policy analysis and to provide expertise, advice and support to countries at their request.
To enable the ECA secretariat to better prepare for the regional meetings which will review the progress made toward implementing the outcomes of the Summit and the "Actionable Agenda" of the African Common Position as well as to effectively monitor such progress member States are requested to make available to the secretariat reports on the implementation of these commitments at the national level on a regular basis.
III. FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN
The fourth World Conference on Women will be held in Beijing, China from 4 to 15 September 1995 with the theme of Action for Equality, Development and Peace. The forthcoming Conference had as its predecessors the first World Conference on Women held in Mexico in 1975, the second World Conference on Women held in Copenhagen in 1980 and the third World Conference on Women held in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985 - which adopted the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women.
In preparation for the fourth World Conference, African member States held the fifth African Regional Conference on Women in Dakar, Senegal from 16 to 23 November 1994. Previous to this con-ference, four other regional conferences had been held respectively in Nouakchott, Mauritania, from 27 September to 2 October 1977; Lusaka, Zambia, from 3 to 7 December 1979; Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, from 8 to 12 October 1984; and Abuja, Nigeria, from 6 to 10 November 1989.
The just-concluded fifth African Regional Conference on Women reviewed and adopted The African Platform for Action: African Common Position for the Advancement of Women. The Conference was held in accordance with:
(a) General Assembly resolution 45/129 of 14 December 1990 on the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women;
(b) United Nations Commission on the Status of Women resolution 36/8 on the preparations for the fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace. This resolution, which was endorsed by ECOSOC, requested regional commissions to organize regional conferences prepara-tory to the fourth World Conference on Women.
The fifth Regional Conference was jointly organized by ECA and the Government of Senegal. It included an NGO Forum, an Intra-African Youth Forum and Consultation, a meeting of technical experts and a high-level Ministerial meeting. The women of Eritrea, Namibia and South Africa participated for the first time in the three-yearly regional conference. The overall objectives of the Conference were to:
(a) Re-examine the conditions of African women 30 years after the independence of most countries in the region, 10 years after the Nairobi Strategies and five years after the Abuja Declaration;
(b) Identify regional trends, priorities, obstacles and innovative suggestions for future action;
(c) Review and appraise progress made in the implementation of the Nairobi- Forward-looking Strategies since their adoption in 1985 as well as other regional strategies and declarations adopted for the advancement of women; and
(d) Review, critically discuss and adopt the African Platform for Action: African Common Posi-tion for the Advancement of Women. It is Africa's regional input to the Global Platform for Action that will be reviewed and adopted in Beijing during the fourth World Conference.
b. Proposals and recommendations of the African Platform for Action
The African Platform for Action: African Common Position for the Advancement of Women pro-vides the framework within which all activities geared towards the advancement of women will be organized and steered for the next 10 years and beyond. This document therefore is a major input in fostering the cause of women and development in Africa beyond Nairobi (1985), Abuja (1989) and Beijing (1995). It comprises a major and concerted regional, subregional and national review of the implementation of the Nairobi Strategies; an evaluation of the short-falls and achievements; proposals of actions and strategies for a common and better future; and a starting point of a process of social, economic and political renewal for the building of a sustainable development model, which will give pride of place to women's quality of life, as well as redefined relationships between men and women. It articulates actionable programmes and stra-tegies underlying medium- and long-term objectives, and spells out concrete ways and means for their imple-mentation.
The document opens with a Declaration by the Ministers and representatives of African Governments participating at the fifth Regional Conference on Women which notes that, despite some progress, obstacles still remain in the regional implementation of the Nairobi Strategies, largely due to a series of crises that have beset and beleaguered most African countries, and which have impeded effective implementation of the Strategies. The Declaration reaffirms the commitment of African Governments to the realization of the Nairobi Strategies in line with the Abuja Declaration, and calls upon United Nations institutions and Africa's development partners and NGOs to commit themselves to the successful implementation of the African Plat-form for Action. Its adoption is a manifestation of a renewed commitment by African Governments to further accelerate the implementation of the Nairobi Strategies at regional, subregional and national levels. The African Platform for Action embodies the unanimous stand that African Governments will take in Beijing during the World Conference. It spells out the actions needed to change the situation of African women positively, based on the following principles:
(a) The holistic and life-cycle approach which recognizes that every stage of a woman's life from childhood to old age is important, has its own needs, and is interlinked with others;
(b) Women's issues are integral societal issues and not just women's affairs to be handled by women alone; and
(c) Commitment to the advancement of women and accountability by governments, NGOs, inter-national agencies and individuals, based on nationally and internationally agreed action.
In the Statement of Mission, the African Platform for Action outlines six objectives aimed at accelerating the social, economic and political empowerment of women at all levels and at all stages of their lives: integration of gender perspectives; equal participation by women and men in policy and decision making; accelerated empowerment of women; search for peace with women's involvement, and protection of human rights of girl-children. The African Platform for Action also gives global and regional perspec-tives of major changes and events that have impacted on women's advancement both positively and nega-tively, since the adoption of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies in 1985, e.g., global and regional con-ferences on women; lack of political commitment and resources; an unjust, inequitable and discriminatory global economic order, reduced external assistance and depressed demand of African commodities; delayed technological innovation, natural disasters, civil and ethnic conflicts, external indebtedness, as well as failure to promote integration of women as equal partners.
C. The critical areas of concern
In the regional review of the process and progress of implementation of the Nairobi Strategies, several gaps and critical areas of concern have been identified at the national and regional levels and these constitute the core of the African Platform for Action as follows:
(a) Women's poverty, insufficient food security and lack of economic empowerment;
(b) Inadequate access to education, training, science and technology;
(c) Women's vital role in culture, the family and socialization;
(d) Improvement of women's health, reproductive health including family planning and population- related programmes;
(e) Women's relationship and linkages to environment and natural resource management;
(f) Involvement of women in the peace process;
(g) The political empowerment of women;
(h) Women's legal and human rights;
(i) Mainstreaming of gender-disaggregated data;
(j) Women, communication, information and the arts; and
(k) The girl-child.
Section IV of the African Platform for Action outlines the strategic objectives and actions to be taken in an accelerated manner in order to address the three core themes of equality, development and peace, and to fully integrate the gender dimension into all political, social, economic and cultural activities for develop-ment. In improving the status, empowerment, participation and decision-making capabilities of women at all levels and in all spheres of life, it is imperative to eliminate social, cultural and individual attitudes and practices that perpetuate gender discrimination. Subordination and discrimination in legislation, as well as in political, economic and social relationships between women and men have to be eliminated wherever they exist. African Governments should take greater account of women's contribution, experience, talents, insights and creativity, in the shaping of the future of the continent. Although the post-Nairobi period has witnessed some improvements in African women's status, it is imperative that setbacks, continuing imbalances and new problems be clearly identified.
D. Follow-up actions by African countries after the Beijing
fourth World Conference on Women
By adopting the African Platform for Action, African Governments have made an important regional contribution to the Global Platform for Action that will be adopted in Beijing. Implementation of the African Platform for Action will require the mobilization of all available human and financial resources interna-tionally, regionally and nationally based on short-, medium- and long-term objectives and perspectives. In Dakar in November 1994, African member States implicitly and explicitly recognized their responsibilities and adopted general criteria for the mobilization and allocation of resources for the advancement of women. It was agreed that new strategies towards a durable solution to the crippling external debt should be applied in a timely and flexible manner through measures such as debt cancellation, debt conversion and debt-for-social development swaps, especially for women's programmes. It was further agreed that all African Governments should also allocate more resources for the financing of women's programmes.
The 52 participating member States also agreed that effective planning, better management and trans- parency in the allocation of resources would be encouraged, including measures aimed at encouraging accountability in government operations as well as in the operations of NGOs. The African Platform for Action recommends that resources be sought and mobilized for the implementation process from the follow-ing sources: governmental and intergovernmental organizations; women's organizations, national and inter-national NGOs; multilateral and bilateral development partners.
E. Role of United Nations agencies including ECA in support of the
implementation of the African Platform for Action
The African Platform for Action proposes that the United Nations system should incorporate a strong funding component in its programme of work and regular budget in support of its implementation. It is further proposed that such budgetary allocations should be between 20 and 25 per cent.
In terms of institutional arrangements for the implementation of the African Platform for Action, the fifth Regional Conference decided that core structures located at the highest levels of decision making are necessary for the effective implementation of the strategies and plans of action for the advancement of women, and in order to bring women's concerns into the mainstream of development. In particular, a core structure with a direct mandate of coordinating, monitoring and evaluating implementation of the African Platform for Action is required at international, regional [e.g., ECA, OAU, ADB and the Africa Regional Coordinating Committee (ARCC)] and national levels, with a mandate for advocacy and for ensuring the mainstreaming of gender concerns in all sectors and programmes, as well as monitoring, evaluation and accountability. United Nations commissions and committees responsible for system-wide coordination of gender issues at policy level should be involved in the institutional arrangements, e.g., the Commission on Human Rights, the Population Commission and the Commission on the Status of Women. At the level of programmes for the advancement of women, bodies such as the Committee on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for Women (INSTRAW), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (UNDAW) should also be involved.
The Conference further decided, that a flexible follow-up mechanism for the implementation and monitoring of the African Platform for Action should be put in place, with an emphasis on strengthening and capacity building of the existing national machineries. At the regional level, coordination, monitoring and evaluation of the African Platform for Action should be entrusted to ARCC in close collaboration and consultation with existing IGOs, as well as the Joint ECA/OAU/ADB Secretariat, and relevant United Nations agencies. In order to foster the dissemination of information relating to the process and progress of implementation of the African Platform for Action, the Conference recommended that ECA should publish a regional report on African women.
An important outcome of the Conference was the adoption of a resolution on "The Implementation of the African Platform for Action" which, inter alia, urges all African Governments to demonstrate their political will and commitment to establish and/or strengthen their national mechanisms, and create an enabling environment for implementation of the African Platform for Action, as well as substantially increase their budgetary allocations for implementation of women, youth and gender-based strategies, programmes and projects. The resolution requests the Executive Secretary of ECA, the Secretary-General of OAU and the President of ADB to initiate the necessary actions for consistent and sustained inter-agency collaboration in the implementation of the African Platform for Action in accordance with the Platform's recommendation on a follow-up mechanism, and to submit a joint report on progress in the implementation of the Platform to the Ministers responsible for Women's Affairs and Women in Development at their next regional conference.
Between now and the convening of the fourth World Conference on Women in September 1995, ECA's preparatory activities will revolve around a number of activities emanating from the proposals and recommendations of the fifth Regional Conference, inter alia,
(a) Disseminating and distributing the reports of the Conference, particularly the African Plat-form for Action;
(b) Sensitizing member States on the forthcoming World Conference on Women by disseminating information and organizing seminars;
(c) Promoting the African Platform for Action and developing guidelines for use by member States on its implementation;
(d) Preparing a consolidated report of the entire proceedings of the fifth Regional Conference;
(e) Mobilizing resources and soliciting support for the implementation process; and
(f) Intensifying advisory services to member States by utilizing ECA's African Centre for Women (ACW), MULPOCs' and member States' national machineries for women in order to sensitize them about the African Platform for Action and to keep them abreast of preparations for the forthcoming fourth World Conference on Women.
As spelt out in the resolution adopted for the implementation of the African Platform for Action, member States have been called upon to take strong and speedy measures to harmonize their civil, customary and other legal systems in order to provide an acceptable national legal framework for its implementation. The full report and detailed information on the African Platform for Action are presented in Document E/ECA/ACW/RC.V/CM/3 which was adopted by the Regional Conference in Dakar. The Conference of Ministers is requested to endorse the African Platform for Action and to give its full support for and commit-ment to its implementation by adopting a resolution to that effect.
IV. SECOND UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS
By its resolution 47/180 of 22 December 1992, the General Assembly decided to convene a second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), to be held in Istanbul, Turkey, from 3 to 14 June 1996, and established a Preparatory Committee, open to participation of all Member States, to oversee preparations for the Conference.
The United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) aims to address pressing human settlements issues and problems within the overall context of sustainable development and has the following main objectives:
(a) In the long term, to arrest the deterioration of global human settlements conditions and ultimately create the conditions for achieving improvements in the living environment of all people on a sustainable basis, with special attention to the needs and contributions of women and vulnerable social groups, whose quality of life and participation in development have been hampered by exclusion and inequality, affecting the poor in general;
(b) To adopt a general statement of principles and commitments and formulate a related global plan of action capable of guiding national and international efforts through the first two decades of the next century.
In addition, the General Assembly affirmed that the Conference should:
(a) Review trends in human settlements policies and programmes undertaken to implement the recommendations adopted at the first United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, held in Vancouver, Canada, in 1976;
(b) Conduct a mid-term review of the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000;
(c) Review the implementation of Agenda 21 with respect to human settlements; and
(d) Review current global trends in economic and social development as they relate to human settlements, and to include recommendations for future actions at the national and international levels.
The Preparatory Committee held its organizational session at United Nations Headquarters from 3 to 5 March 1993. The Preparatory Committee elected the Bureau and took decisions regarding the organiza- tion of its work. It invited the Commission on Human Settlements to provide it with recommendations on substantive issues for the Conference in accordance with General Assembly resolution 47/180 and to draft guidelines for consideration and adoption by the Preparatory Committee at its first session, so as to enable States to take a harmonized approach in their preparations and reporting.
B. Major issues for the African common position to the Conference
The special meeting of African Ministers responsible for Human Settlements in the African region took place in Nairobi, Kenya on 30 March 1994. The ministerial meeting was preceded by a preparatory meeting of intergovernmental experts on 28 and 29 March. The meeting was convened by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), in collaboration with ECA and OAU, with support from the Government of the Netherlands. Thirty-six countries were represented at the experts meeting and 45 at the ministerial meeting.
As a basis for discussion, the meeting had before it the background paper "Human settlements development and management in the African region" which was contributed by ECA. The following main issues were highlighted in the paper: factors influencing the development of human settlements in Africa, review of trends in human settlements development, finance and governance for human settlements, and recommended strategies for sustainable human settlements development and management in Africa. ECA provided substantial services including secretarial support and translation during the meeting.
The ministerial meeting adopted a Declaration on the preparatory process to Habitat II. The Declara- tion includes:
(a) The most critical challenges:
(b) The issues and features in Africa of importance to human settlements;
(c) List of priorities of the region and recommendations on modalities setting in motion the preparatory process at national, subregional and regional levels.
In the Declaration, the Ministers fully endorsed the two major themes for Habitat II relating to the basic human settlements concerns of Africa, namely:
(a) Sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world; and
(b) Adequate shelter for all.
The Ministers emphasized that human settlements is a priority sector and that there was a need to integrate it into overall national development planning. They stressed that human settlements should be seen as an important contributor to economic growth and development. Consequently, they noted the need to recognize that the sector should receive adequate public-sector investments and incentives so as to attract private participation.
It was also stressed that human settlements policies and programmes in Africa should simultaneously address the needs of both urban and rural areas. In doing so, appropriate linkages should be promoted between the cities and rural areas with a view to achieving balanced development.
In their Declaration, the Ministers:
(a) Expressed awareness that the issues of land, shelter and infrastructure were of paramount importance and that programmes should be formulated to ensure accessibility by the majority of the popula-tion, especially the poor, women and the increasing number of displaced persons;
(b) Stressed the necessity of developing appropriate supportive institutions for the sustenance of human settlements in the region, and that such institutions should address the development of land-use planning and management, training of human resources, the promotion of research and technologies with special attention to the exploitation of local building materials, the development of accessible financial and legal mechanisms, and procedures for monitoring and evaluation of human settlements programmes and projects;
(c) Emphasized the importance of establishing more positive relationships between central and local government authorities resulting in effective decentralization of responsibilities and resources, and in creating an enabling environment for the development and growth of the private sector, community- based organizations and non-governmental organizations in the development of human settlements;
(d) Committed themselves to ensure proper consultation and coordination at national, subregional and regional levels, in order to maximize the sharing of experiences and establishing appropriate networks and, in that regard, called upon relevant regional institutions such as OAU, ECA, ADB, as well as subre-gional economic organizations and groups to support and be involved in the process;
(e) Called upon on Africa's development partners to create the international economic environ-ment which is conducive to the development of human settlements in Africa, stressing that given increasing inter-dependence and interaction in the world community, the deterioration of human settlements in Africa would negatively impact on other regions.
C. Key concerns to Africa to be integrated in the
ongoing preparatory process
The Preparatory Committee held its first substantive session at Geneva from 11 to 22 April 1994. It clearly established the major orientation, objectives and focus of the Conference, its preparatory process and expected outcome. In particular, stress was placed on a successful national preparatory process for the Conference. The national preparatory process was to be a contribution to the strengthening of institutions, capacity and awareness-building on urbanization, shelter and other human settlements development issues. This would enable all levels of government and non-governmental organizations to analyze and review human settlements strategies, policies and programmes within the context of their importance to the realiza-tion of major development objectives of the international community. Such development objectives to be achieved include: poverty alleviation and employment generation; enhancement of the human and natural environment; decentralization and good management; and disaster preparedness, mitigation and reconstruc-tion.
The Preparatory Committee adopted a number of decisions which are of importance and implication for Africa as analyzed below.
Decisions 1 and 2 on preparations at the country, regional and global levels, on the draft statement of principles and commitments and on the draft global plan of action outline, inter alia, the following objec-tives for the preparatory process:
(a) The objectives for the preparatory process and for Habitat II is to:
(i) increase the global awareness of the problems and potentials of human settlements - as important inputs to social progress and economic growth; and
(ii) commit the world's leaders to making cities, towns and villages healthy, safe, just and sustainable;
(b) National objectives:
(i) to design, adopt and implement a national plan of action;
(ii) to strengthen the capacity of institutions at all levels;
(c) International objectives:
(i) to present a "state of human settlements" report, describing the main challenges, concerns and constraints, and build a vision of sustainable human settlements and adequate shelter for all;
(ii) to produce a draft statement of principles and commitments based on a new interna-tional consensus on policies and goals for shelter and the future of human settle-ments;
(iii) to produce a draft global plan of action to mobilize international resources, create institutional arrangements for assistance and monitor the goals of sustainable human settlements;
(iv) to make available the broadest possible range of information concerning public and private shelter strategies, technologies, resources, experience, expertise and sources of support relevant to shelter and urbanization needs and initiatives.
By the decision of the Preparatory Committee, the Declaration by African Ministers responsible For Human Settlements on the Preparatory Process to the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settle- ments (Habitat II), among other documents presented by the regional commissions, would serve as a contri-bution to the Statement of Principles and Commitments and to the Global Plan of Action which is intended to provide a means for the development of effective policies and programmes addressing shelter, settlements and urbanization issues in national action plans up to, and throughout, the first two decades of the next century.
D. Role of the United Nations, including ECA, to support
the follow-up actions after PrepCom I
In accordance with the decision of the Preparatory Committee, ECA has to play a central role at the regional level in the preparatory process, during the Conference and in the follow-up to the Conference. This role should include, among other matters:
(a) Coordinating and facilitating regional activities, including regional meetings;
(b) Enabling member States with limited institutional and financial capacity to participate effec- tively in the preparatory process and in the Conference;
(c) Liaising and preparing a regional report on the state of human settlements, highlighting cross- sectoral and cross-country concerns.
To ensure that the above mandate can be implemented, the twenty-ninth session of the Commis- sion/twentieth meeting of the Conference of Ministers, which was convened in Addis Ababa from 2 to 5 May 1994, adopted resolution 772 (XXIX) entitled "Preparations for the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements". This resolution was submitted through ECOSOC to the forty- ninth session of the General Assembly with the request for approval of financial resources in order to carry out regional-level activities and provide support to member States in preparations for the Conference.
When it was recognized that resources had not been allocated as of the end of 1994, ECA endeavoured to ensure that some of the least developed countries of the region, to the extent that funds from other activities of the Commission are available, would be assisted in drafting their work programmes for national preparations and national reports for Habitat II, which are both crucial and urgent.
In this regard, a number of missions were undertaken to Benin, Botswana, Cape Verde, the Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania and Zambia. An evaluation of efforts made by the Governments shows that the lack of financial resources has been a major factor impeding the necessary actions of various countries in relation to the preparatory process for Habitat II.
It should be recognized that African countries have made all efforts to participate actively in the pre-paratory activities of the Conference. As at 28 February 1995, of the 53 reports on the progress of work received by the Secretariat of the Conference, 22 reports had been communicated by African countries.
The 1994 global observance of World Habitat Day in Dakar, Senegal, from 3 to 5 October 1994 pro-vided the opportunity for reviewing progress in the national preparations for Habitat II in some African countries.
In addition, the ECA secretariat also participated in the subregional Ministerial Meeting for Eastern, Central and Southern Africa on the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) which was held in Kampala, Uganda, from 26 to 28 February 1995. The meeting reviewed the preparatory process at the subregional level and adopted a declaration helping chart a course to make Habitat II relevant to African countries.
E. Conclusions and recommendations
Following the successful first PrepCom in April 1994, the preparatory process for Habitat II is well under way in Africa. It has already produced a number of important reports and declarations and more are still to come. The ECA secretariat is engaged in coordinating and facilitating regional meetings, and in pro-viding assistance to some of the least developed countries of the region in drafting their work programmes for national preparations and national reports for Habitat II.
The major challenge facing many national steering committees of African countries is the urgent need to prepare detailed and specific work programmes for national actions so as to enable them, when financial resources will be mobilized by the Secretariat of the Conference, to request support from the Secretary-General of the Conference.
Since the programme budget for the 1994-1995 biennium as adopted by the General Assembly did not anticipate implications for ECA's activities required for the preparatory process, the Commission will prepare a regional report on the state of human settlements in Africa in early 1996. It should also be noted that ECA and Shelter Afrique have reached agreement to jointly prepare the continental shelter report in early 1996 as an additional contribution of the region to Habitat II.
All interested actors must work together. For the preparation of a regional report on the state of human settlements in Africa, OAU, ADB as well as subregional economic organizations and groups should be involved in order to enrich the regional contribution to Habitat II.
The most important challenge facing the Secretariat of the Conference is funding. Every effort should be made by the organs and organizations of the United Nations system to provide financial resources to interested African countries at their request for the preparation of their national reports which are to be submitted to the Secretary-General of the Conference by 1 December 1995.