Africa: UN-NADAF NGO Papers

Africa: UN-NADAF NGO Papers

Africa: UN-NADAF NGO Papers

Date Distributed (ymd): 960920

This posting includes brief excerpts from Background Papers 2 (trade), 3 (gender) and 4 (human rights). Background Paper 1, on debt, was previously distributed through this list. Background Paper 5, the African NGO Networks Caucus statement from the August 1996 meeting in Harare, will be distributed following this posting.

The full texts of papers 2 (7K), 3 (16K) and 4 (16K) are available in several ways:

(1) On the APC networks in the conference The conference has the UN Secretary-General's Report on the Implementation of the New Agenda for Development of Africa, in both English and French.

(2) On the Africa Policy web site at

[The Web site also includes the UN Secretary-General's Report.]

(3) by sending a precisely worded message, in one line, to Please send a separate message for each paper. This is a semi-automatic reply, so there will be additional delays in replying to different wordings.

For Background Paper 2 (trade), the message should read:

send mtbp2

For Background Paper 3 (gender), the message should read:

send mtbp3

For Background Paper 4 (human rights), the message should read:

send mtbp4


Excerpts from Background Paper Number 2, NGO Forum, UN-NADAF Mid Term Review, September 13-14, 1996

Globalisation and Trade by Rudo Chitiga, Development Innovations and Networks (IRED), Zimbabwe


The Special Initiative in the context of globalisation will leave Africa marginalised vis a vis the other continents. Trade and new investment have become the key instruments for growth in the new economic order. A major source of Africa's problem has been the deteriorating terms of trade. According to the World Bank (1994) real commodity prices fell more than half between 1980 and 1993.

Aid flows have failed to compensate for Africa's terms of trade losses. Recovery chances are further reduced by the crippling debt burden which, according to UNCTAD, stood at 67% of GNP in 1994. The continent's total debt was US$317 billion in 1994, corresponding to 231% of Africa's exports of goods and services.

Africa still contributes only 0.4% of world manufactured goods and commands less than 1% of world trade. The new trade arrangements under the World Trade Organisation will result in losses to Africa amounting to $2.6 - $3.0 billion annually, according to analysts in the OECD, World Bank and UNCTAD. The Special Initiative is only $25 billion over 10 years!


The current emphasis on the role of foreign investment in promoting economic growth is worrying to many groups, particularly grass roots groups in Africa. We view the encouragement of foreign investment as affirming the new economic order where transnational corporations control and determine the pace of development and globalisation. The conditions under which TNCs invest in Africa are unfavourable to the welfare of its people. Such requirements as tax holidays, profit repatriation and in some cases total disregard for labour laws will leave Africa bare. The preference for TNCs for investment in extraction and timber industries creates further threats to the environment in Africa.


Africa seems now to be split into two themes, namely the social sector to be implemented and financed under the Special Initiative and the economic sector which is directed by the WTO, World Bank, IMF and TNCs. The record of the Bretton Woods Institutions in Africa is well known. The new powers given to the WTO are even more disenabling to local initiatives and hopes for recovery in Africa.


Development Innovations and Networks (IRED), P.O. Box CY3, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe Tel: 263-4-796853 Fax: 263-4-722421 E-mail: ired@mango.ZW


Excerpts from Background Paper Number 3, NGO Forum, UN-NADAF Mid Term Review, September 13-14, 1996


by Safiatu K. Singhateh, African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) Kenya



>From a regional perspective

2. Within the African Region similar consensus was reached in several African fora namely the African regional preparatory meeting for the 4th World Conference on Women in Dakar, the African regional conference on peace in Kampala, the post Beijing expert group meeting organised by the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa and in other regional meetings on thematic issues. In addition, all these meetings reaffirmed that women in Africa are already playing crucial roles in food production, household maintenance, and reproduction and that achieving sustainable economic growth in Africa will heavily depend on promoting the welfare and productivity of women. However, they noted with great concern that certain factors such as gender differentiated resource allocation and prevailing social norms and practices inhibit their full and active involvement in the development process. Some of the specific gender problems identified by these meetings and conferences include:


Operationalising gender in the African agenda

3. In the past few decades, Africa has seen a remarkable improvement in the area of women/gender and development in many respects. This positive development has been in many ways associated with the intensive sensitisation on gender issues in the continent. Some of the actions that have been taken during this period by governments in Africa can be summarised under the following:

3.1 Establishing frameworks for women's integration


3.2 Affirmative actions for involving women in leadership roles

Some African governments have taken affirmative actions to reduce the gender gap at the decision making levels. For instance, 90% of governments in the African Region have one or more female ministers and all of them have deputy ministers or members of Parliament or its equivalence. The Secretary General of the Namibian ruling party is a female. The Gambia, a small country in West Africa, has had four female ministers for the past two years. Uganda has a female Vice President and most recently Liberia has a female Head of State. All these actions in a way indicate a positive sign of Government's awareness of the importance of women's participation in the development process in the Continent and more specifically women's own assertiveness and determination to be involved in the process. It remains however to be seen on how much more of women's involvement at this level of development could be sustained in order to make a real change within the Continent.

Facing the Challenges

4. In order to sustain these efforts and to make them a reality, Africans and African governments must be prepared to face up to the following challenges:


Engendering the African development agenda

5. Gender and Development in Africa should be conceived from a multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional perspective. It should aim at accelerating women's empowerment and create a system in which women and men have equal rights and opportunities at all stages of their lives to participate in, contribute to and benefit from all aspects of development. Its approaches should seek to redress imbalance in the power and resources available to women and men as well as identifying the relative impact of development policies and programmes.

6. While governments have strong obligation in fulfilling their commitments to their peoples in all spheres of development, attention should be focused on those inter-related issues that would facilitate and enhance the process for the achievement of a gender equitable society. Some of these issues may include:


Role of NGOs



11. Given that the Africa Continent has and continues to be the object of experimentation through new initiatives, it should be noted that very few efforts have been put into assessing the viability of such initiatives within the overall context of the Africa's social and economic development. Past experiences must be utilized in designing plans for new initiatives.

12. The U.N. new initiative for Africa must make space for mainstreaming gender. The experience of the structural adjustment for Africa's economic recovery has had serious adverse effects on women, children and other vulnerable groups. The economic insecurity among people within the continent has further exacerbated the growing political instability among nations. These and other related issues should be considered in the mid-term review.

13. The World Bank, the UN and other international, bilateral and multilateral agencies are equally faced with challenges in ensuring that Africa does not fail its people as it undertakes the continuation of the implementation of UN-NADAF on the one hand and adopting the UN system-wide special initiative on Africa on the other.

14. The greatest challenge is the extent to which the civil society government leaders and most importantly the beneficiaries at the grassroots level will participate in deciding on the various programme activities envisaged within this initiative, their level of participation in the implementation, monitoring of and assessing the impact and effects that the programme will have on them and those after them.

African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) P.O. Box 54652 Nairobi, Kenya Tel: 254-2-741301 Fax: 254-2-742927 E-mail:


Excerpts from Background Paper Number 4, NGO Forum, UN-NADAF Mid Term Review, September 13-14, 1996

Human Rights, Democracy and Governance in Africa, 1991-1996

Akouete Akakpo-Vidah International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, Canada


The period under review was characterized by three important and relevant phenomena: - a formal democratization process with pluralistic elections; - a re-mobilization of civil society in African countries, and the emergence of new organizations aiming to promote human rights and democracy; - a mobilization of the African diaspora for human rights and democracy in Africa.

1. A formal democratization process

This process was characterized by the transformation of political regimes in Africa through a transition from one-party systems to multi-party systems. In many countries, one-party rule was abolished from the constitution; several political parties emerged and pluralistic elections were organized; democratic institutions were established, for example, new and more representative parliaments, independent legal institutions, as well as responsible and accountable executive bodies.

The transition process, still ongoing in some countries, included negotiations between different political interest groups, with or without a demonstration of their respective strengths (street demonstrations, civil disobedience, armed repression, terror created by death squads or armed rebel fighting, etc.). In certain cases, after an agreement, transitional institutions were set up, a constitution was drafted, enacted, and finally, pluralistic elections were organized in more or less free and transparent conditions, and their results were either accepted or rejected by those concerned.


Pluralistic elections are an important element of a formal democratization process. Between 1991 and 1996, such elections were organized in more than forty African countries. There were several cases of free and transparent elections which led to political transitions, especially in Benin (1991 and 1996), Zambia (1991), Mali (1992), Madagascar (1993), Burundi (1993), South Africa (1994), Malawi (1995), Mozambique (1995), and Sierra Leone (1996). However, many were not conducted under acceptable conditions if we consider the rate of abstention, which was often very high (over 50% of registered voters in Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Kenya, and Togo; about 40% in Cameroon and Congo), or the successful attempts at massive election fraud to maintain incumbent leaders in power. For example, after a seven-year transition process, the last elections in Nigeria were annulled in 1993 even before the results were released.

Despite these imperfections, pluralistic elections enable citizens to choose between individuals and parties who claim to be different, and make it possible to settle differences peacefully. This universal democratic tool is also valid for Africa.

2. Redefinition and massive mobilization of civil society

The second phenomenon which characterizes the period under review is the emergence, redefinition, restructuring and massive mobilization of civil society. The short-lived freedom which resulted from the social movements which swept through several African countries made it possible to redefine the very concept of civil society and increased its legitimacy through the many conferences, meetings and publications which ensued in a dramatic way. As regards the theory and practice of development in Africa, practitioners have evolved from the concept of popular participation to that of a lively, energetic and structured civil society which can challenge the power of the state as the main garantor of sustainable democratic development.


3. An increasingly organized mobilization of Africans living abroad to promote democracy and human rights.

Many Africans living outside Africa came out of the shadows - a striking phenomenon. This organized African diaspora has become more and more essential for international agencies, foreign governments and non-governmental organizations intent on helping Africa. Their involvement is likely to produce fruitful and mutually beneficial dialogue. Several non-governmental development organizations recently changed their policies to include members of this diaspora more and more directly in their staff or on their boards of directors. However, both sides still have a lot of work to do in the host countries. We must not neglect the unused human resource and knowledge potential of the African diaspora in our efforts to achieve development objectives in Africa.

4. Contribution of the United Nations.

...The genocide in Rwanda and the inadequate response of the Security Council, the UN bureaucracy and UNIMIR to this political and human tragedy must be mentioned here because it was one of the worst yet predictable contemporary human rights catastrophes. African civil society should be involved in the ongoing debate about reforming the UNO because of the increasingly important role that this international organization and its affiliated agencies play in Africa. This reform should be implemented quickly in order to avoid such catastrophes in the future and so that the UNO will be less dependent on the wishes of member states and more at the service of societies.

5. Contribution of the Organization of African Unity

For a long time the OAU was perceived as a "union of Heads of State and Government", i.e. a very conservative body with regard to the interests and aspirations of African citizens in the areas of democracy and human rights, since the heads of state were primarily responsible for human rights violations. Until very recently, this perception was largely justified and deserved because the Heads of State and Governments were unwilling to respect the provisions of the African Charter of Human and People's Rights, and they failed to ensure the efficient running of the African Commission which they themselves created. Consequently, the formal democratization of Africa and the increased affirmation of human rights in public statements and in practice in African societies was accomplished in spite of the OAU rather than thanks to the OAU. South Africa's adhesion to the OAU after the end of the apartheid system and the emergence of many more legitimate Heads of State and Government gradually led to a change in the organizations' discourse and political will on these issues. But there is still a lot to be done. A debate on reforming the OAU should be put on the agenda, and African civil society should be encouraged to participate in the work of the OAU and in the monitoring of its activities. This would make the Organization more accountable to African societies.


International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, 63, rue des Bresoles Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2Y 1V7 Tel: (514) 283-6073 Fax: (514)283-3792 E-mail:


Message-Id: <> From: Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 15:54:46 -0500 Subject: Africa: UN-NADAF NGO Papers

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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