Africa: US NGO Statement, Denver Summit, 6/10/97

Africa: US NGO Statement, Denver Summit, 6/10/97

Africa: US NGO Statement, Denver Summit

Date distributed (ymd): 970610

WOA Document

This posting consists of a press release and a short statement from the Congressional Black Caucus and a coalition of US NGOs on the occasion of the Denver Summit.

A full statement of position is available on the World Wide Web at:

A text version of the full statement may be obtained (in two parts) via e-mail. Send the message "send denver" to Please type it exactly as written, as that will facilitate a reply.


News from the US-Africa Trade Policy Working Group Conveners: Bread for the World, Washington Office on Africa

For immediate release: June 7, 1997

For more information, contact: Doug Tilton ( Ray Almeida (

CBC and NGOs Say Africans Must Have Voice in Economic Policymaking

Washington, D.C. -- The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and twenty-two religious and secular organizations have issued a statement calling on the leaders of industrialized nations to consult with Africans before making policy decisions which affect African nations.

The heads of government of the Group of Seven (G7) countries Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States will hold their annual economic summit in Denver, Colorado from June 20 to June 22. The event has become known as the Denver Summit of Eight in recognition of the inclusion of the Russian leader, Boris Yeltsin, in most of the summit deliberations.

The Summit participants are expected to consider measures to promote economic liberalization in Africa and to accelerate the integration of African nations into global economic networks.

The CBC and the organizational endorsers of the statement, "Africa and the Denver Economic Summit," insist that African representatives should be take part in reaching decisions that directly affect African nations. They fear that, otherwise, the Summit will repeat the errors of the 1884-84 Berlin Conference, at which the major European powers and the United States carved up the African continent, establishing colonial enclaves and imposing commercial regulations.



Africa and the Denver Economic Summit

We applaud the industrialized nations participating in the Denver Summit of Eight for the decision to pay particular attention to Africa. However, we greatly regret that the participants will have no opportunity to consult directly with African officials. If Africa is to be on the agenda, Africans should be at the table.

It is imperative that the Denver Summit of Eight not become a modern-day Berlin Conference at which powerful nations make decisions about Africa's future without consulting Africans themselves. Africans across the continent are initiating projects and debating policies consistently and constructively. We urge policy makers to recognize these developments and to establish a mechanism to facilitate systematic consultation with all those whose lives will be affected by the choices made. This requires that the summit participants initiate a dialogue that involves not only their counterparts in African governments, but also a broad cross-section of African public, private, and civil society sector representatives. We hope that such discussions would develop a comprehensive program of action for consideration at the 1998 economic summit.

We recognize that Africans do not speak with one voice, nor are all individuals and groups equally well-equipped to make their voices heard. Consequently, a particular effort must be made to consult with those who typically find themselves on the political and economic periphery: rural dwellers, women, workers, youth, the unemployed, elderly, and disabled. We fear that, in the absence of these perspectives, certain principles fundamental to policy development and assessment will be ignored. These include criteria that have already emerged from our own discussions with African community and civil society organizations and that resonate with our experiences in domestic struggles for social and economic justice:

1. The single most important question which must be asked about any Africa initiative, whether multilateral or bilateral, is: What impact will the action have on Africa's economically poor majorities and the most marginalized sectors of each society?

2. Programs and policies should be designed to produce explicit, tangible benefits for poor communities. It should never be assumed that benefits will "trickle down" from the economically or politically powerful to the marginalized.

3. Action must be undertaken simultaneously on a number of fronts and policies must interlock to form a coherent and comprehensive whole. Initiatives in one area must not be undermined by action (or inaction) in another.

4. All multilateral and bilateral initiatives should facilitate and model increased popular participation in decision making, greater accountability of officials, and improved transparency. Such "process" concerns should take precedence over a rigid insistence on any particular economic regime.

June 6, 1997


Congressional Black Caucus

Africa Faith and Justice Network

Africa Fund

Africa Policy Information Center

African-American Institute

American Committee on Africa

American Friends Service Committee, Washington Office

Bread for the World

Catholic Relief Services

Center of Concern

Church World Service / Lutheran World Relief

Constituency for Africa

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Justice and Peace Office

Mennonite Central Committee

Missionaries of Africa

Oxfam America

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Society of African Missions Office of Justice and Peace


Union of American Hebrew Congregations

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Washington Office on Africa


Message-Id: <> From: "WOA" <> Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 21:20:43 -0500 Subject: Africa: US NGO Statement, Denver Summit

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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