ACP Civil Society

Civil Society Forum

IYPAD Resolution in Joint ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly

ACPCSF Release

Resolution before the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) Committee
European Parliament, Alteiere Spinelli Bldg, Brussels, Belgium

Lunch time Debate 8.jpg
Pascal Ntahompagaze,3rd from Right

A resolution was introduced in the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) of ACP-EU parliamentarians based on United Nations (UN) Resolution 64/169 which declared the year 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent. The Resolution was in the name of Mr. Louis Michel MEP (Member of the European Parliament) and was introduced by Mr. Pascal Ntahompagaze, International Expert in Sustainable Development, Environment and International Politics and Member of the Royal Institute of International Relations.

Mr. Ntahompagze gave a background to the UN Resolution and explained that the stated goal of the Resolution was to achieve Recognition, Justice and Development for People of African Descent.

He was followed by Ms. Joyce Van Genderen-Naar, Legal Advisor of the ACP Civil Society Forum. She spoke about the descendants from the Caribbean living in Europe and the "EC Anti Discrimination Directives" and the obligation of EU Member States to protect all the citizens, including African descendents, from discrimination, who are facing the same problems as the African communities worldwide.

She stressed the importance of the European citizenship for these communities and also the need for more involvement and participation at the level of the European Parliament and European Commission.The citizens should be more informed about this EU legislative framework to prevent and to fight all forms of discrimination.

Next was Roosevelt King, Secretary General of BANGO in his role as Policy & Network Advisor of the ACP Civil Society Forum. He spoke of the plight of African Descendants in the Caribbean and the Americas. He noted that racism and discrimination was firmly institutionalised in the Caribbean and that even though the governments in the Caribbean were mostly made up of people of African descent, the legacy of 400 years of slavery and subsequent colonisation had left these countries with examples of administration that became the blue print for post colonial governance and this system of governance continued even after acquiring Independence from their colonial masters.

Mr. King cited "Black on Black" crime, lack of wealth and the ease with which African descendants plunge into poverty as examples of the results of the legacy and the practice of discrimination.

He noted that 400 years cannot be turned around in one year and called for the Assembly to consider devoting a ten year period of programming to help the African descendants achieve the goals of the UN Resolution. In his closing, Mr. King recognised the presence in the Assembly of Mrs. Mara Thompson MP, Barbados, wife of the late Prime Minister of Barbados, Mr. David Thompson.

MEP Louis Michel made an intervention saying that he was most interested in this matter from the point of view of migration and would like to see African descendants doing well in Europe. He promised to make every effort to hold a major activity on 10th December 2011 to mark the anniversary of the Declaration. He suggested that this could take the form of a cultural expose with any other activities around it.

The Chairperson thanked Mr. Ntahompagze and his team of "experts" and promised wider discussion among members of the JPA on the resolution introduced by him with a view to follow-up action.

After the introduction of the Resolution, a debate was held outside the Assembly in which members of the JPA and several interest groups and NGOs participated. The debate was moderated by Mr. Ntahompagze. This debate raised several issues related to the lack of development of African countries and possible strategies for economic growth.

On the side of the EU NGOs, they called for more anti-poverty programmes, noting that benefits from relationships should no longer be one-sided in the favour of the EU. Their representative said that in the same manner EU expected to benefit from relationships and agreements with ACP countries, the people of these countries should benefit similarly.

Louis Michel reiterated his commitment to projects and embraced several ideas, especially those related to broadening education and its delivery in an African context. The contribution of the African Diaspora to the development of the global economy was acknowledged, as well as the lack of rewards for their achievements. It was the consensus of the debate that the discrepancies must be brought into sharp focus and more must be done to address these.

It was also recognised that one year is not enough and some discussion ensued on identifying sources to fund medium and long term projects over a ten year period. The debate ended with commitment from participants to engage the EU through Louis Michel and collaborate to initiate desired projects.

Before finally closing, Mr. King made a plea for all wars in Africa to end as a mark of respect for the UN Declaration for 2011 to be the International Year for people of African Descent.

The Kelsey Report: Services and Investment in the CARIFORUM-EC-EPA

By Norman Girvan

Dr Jane Kelsey, Professor of Law at the University of Auckland and a leading international authority on trade in services agreements, has conducted an exhaustive study of Legal Provisions on Services and Investment in the CARIFORUM-EC EPA. The eleven-chapter, 111-page study, now published by the South Centre, indentifies five principal categories of legal risk in the EPA: (i) asymmetry in favour of the EU; (ii) the unpredictable and unlimited multiplier effect of most-favoured nation and 'regional preference' obligations; (iii) an externally imposed regional integration model; (iv) closure of policy space; (v) complexity, uncertainty and a heightened risk of errors with no structured opportunity to correct them.

The main recommendation for Cariforum States is to utilise the Joint Declaration of the Parties on the Signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement, to be conducted pursuant to Article 5 of the EPA, which the author states is 'the only formal opportunity to address the concerns raised in the report'. For Non-Cariforum States, especially in the ACP grouping, the main recommendation is they 'should assert their right not to negotiate an agreement with the EU on services and investment'.

The publication of the Kelsey Report provides an opportunity to broaden current exchanges over the EPA in the Caribbean beyond the issue of implementation of the agreement. Given the scope and extent of the legal risks identified, it would be appropriate for the legal and other academic community, trade officials, the private sector, NGOs and other stakeholders to examine the EPA text critically with a view to assessing the implications and detemining the modifications necessary to make the Agreement more in line with Cariforum/Caricom circumstances and interests. This is all the more important, in that services and investment form part of the CARICOM/Canada FTA and negotiations on these subjects are due to commence soon. Further, we are nearly two years into the period allowed for the mandatory review, and adequate preparation in support of the Caricom/Cariforum case needs to be made.

Read the Kelsey/South Centre Report

Regional Strategy Papers 10th EDF Approved

Regional strategy documents approved by the Commission.
(The documents are published in their original language)
The official version is the scanned version
 Period 2008-2013
Executive summary
Addendum to RSP according to mid-term review 
Central AfricaPDF Document -PDF Document -
West AfricaPDF Document -PDF Document -
Eastern and southern Africa and Indian oceanPDF Document -PDF Document -
Southern Africa development Community (SADC)PDF Document -PDF Document -
Pacific regionPDF Document -PDF Document -
Caribbean regionPDF Document -PDF Document -

3rd ACP Civil Society Forum

The ACP Civil Society Forum was established as a mechanism to ensure the participation of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) NGOs, Groups and other non profit organisations, especially grassroots organisations, in the EU-ACP Processes, under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.

We are now in the third period of the ACP Civil Society Forum. The first Forum was held in 2002 and the third one was held in 2009. The 3rd Forum, however, is seeking to increase the participation of CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) beyond meetings every three or four years; although by the agreement, we are supposed to meet every two years.

The ACP Civil Society Forum is somewhat like the NSA Panels, except that the Forum does not include labour, private sector or government in its membership. It is strictly for Civil Society as the name suggests. The Forum meets in Brussels, but so far, has not been able to fulfill any of its functions as a facilitating body for CSOs to be part of Development Cooperation between the EU and ACP.

The ACP Governments have basically hogged the show; causing huge gaps between meetings and is responsible for dwindling attendance at the Forum. The last Forum had less than 30 representatives. This has effectively shut us out, but a breakthrough in the last Form will change all this.

The ACP is made up of 79 countries in these three regions. There are therefore 79 representatives (one from each country) eligible to attend the ACP Civil Society Forum (CSF). The Forum is concerned with both regional and national matters. The NSA Panels which were established in 2006 sought to fill the void at the national level which was created by the stalling of the CSF.

This stalling, however, caused other mechanisms to be created for example, the practice of partner organisations in Africa, where a European NGO would partner with an African NGO so that they could draw down the funds for the Africans. This was more a humanitarian move since the Forum was not fulfilling this role. Subsequently, the EU has made several "envelopes" available. These are allocations of funding for developmental activities under various headings, which can be tapped by NGOs working through an EU agency.

Dr. Natallie Corrie-Kordas with last Secretary General of the ACP Sir John Kaputin of New Guinea at the opening of the 3rd Civil Society Forum. Sir John chaired the meeting until the Forum elected a new chair.

Barbados Representation at ACP Civil Society Forum

BANGO has been providing representation to the ACP Civil Society Forum since 2006 when it attended the second forum. We found CSOs battling for the recognition of the Forum as an institution for Civil Society in the ACP. At that time, the ACP Secretariat instructed members to register an organisation is Brussels which they would then recognise and that all funding would come through that organisation.

Needless to say, the members got together and registered an organisation called the ACFP Civil Society Platform, which the ACP also refused to recognise. This led members to speculate that something was wrong with the registration of the first, to the extent that it encouraged members to form two other organisations; which in turn eventually led to division among the NGOs at the second forum which BANGO attended.

At that time, BANGO queried the need for recognition and severly criticised the then Director of Political Affairs and Human Development Department, under which bureaucratic responsibility for the Forum resides. He seemed to have been instructing the Chairman not to entertain any discussion on recognition at all. Hence, frustration set in and a filibustering of the meeting began at that point until the meeting ended.

After four days we were no wiser. Many may not believe in conspiracy theories, but see what happened as a result of the perception of a conspiracy theory. In the lead up to the third Forum, BANGO found a lawyer in Brussels who was very delighted to work with us on coming to a position for the ACP Civil Society Forum. She investigated the legal status of similar bodies and found that many had diverse status. Not all were registered, but found that some registered their Secretariats and not the organisation.

This led us to look at how the ACP CSF was established and found that not only was it rooted in International Law, it was recognised under the very Cotonou Agreement by the two parties; the ACP and the EU. So here we were trying to get status and already had superior status.

In its presentation at the 3rd Forum, BANGO put forward these issues which found support among members and no objection from the Secretariat, since the Forum is a creature of the joint ACP-EU Governments.  The challenge was setting up a structure where the Forum could function through its Chairman. This task was also completed and communicated to the ACP-EU by way of the 3rd Declaration of the Forum. The Secretariat effectively advised governments that it recognised the Forum and its new working structure.

Renwick Rose - WINFA

Hailing from St Vincent & The Grenadines, Renwick was among the stalwarts in the early fight for recognition of the ACP Civil Society Forum.

Roosevelt King - BANGO


From Barbados, He joined Renwick at the 2nd Forum and provided the continuity to the 3rd Forum in the absence of Renwick.

Lawman Lynch - Kingston & St. Andrew Youth Forum

By following the protocol established by the Forum, which adheres to the rule that the Chair is chosen from the country of the Chair of the Political & Human Development Committee, landed the chairmanship in the lap of Lawman, hailing from Jamaica; the Chair of the Committee.

Viewed 5,862 times