President Sirleaf Chairs AU High-Level Committee Meeting In N’Djamena

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(N’Djamena, Chad – Friday, February 28, 2014) President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has called for an effective Continental Dialogue on the Common African Position

(CAP), so that it might be embraced by all. The Common African Position was derived by the African Union’s High-Level Committee of Heads of State and Government constituted by the Authority of the African Union, and headed by President Sirleaf.

According to a dispatch from N’Djamena, the Liberian leader made the call on Friday, February 28, at a special meeting of the High-Level Committee where the Common African Position was formally launched.

President Sirleaf reminded her colleagues that the Committee’s mandate now is to ensure that the pillars reflected in the CAP – all essential to the welfare of the African people and the future of the continent – are integrated into the Global Development Framework which will be agreed in 2015. She said that before the Committee goes out and negotiates with the rest of the world, it is imperative to ensure that all Africans, including fellow political leaders, policy makers, advocacy groups, the private sector and others, take full ownership of the Common African Position.

The Liberian President Sirleaf pointed out that the Committee is still engaging stakeholders throughout Africa, and must also start talking to other regions of the world to establish partnerships and alliances around shared priorities, and to negotiate, in good faith, the issues on which the continent and other regions differ. “We must look at how our priorities affect other regions and how their development agenda affects Africa. Our strong conviction in the justice and efficacy of our position must be tempered by flexibility, which also has its limits,” President Sirleaf told fellow Heads of State and Government.

Providing background, the Liberian President said that the Common African Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda was developed out of the aspirations of the African people, and that consultations took place around the continent involving many stakeholders including, but not limited to, civil society organizations, the private sector and academia, as well as Governments and regional institutions. “Therefore, the document we are launching today is a reflection of the world Africans want to live in. It shows the leaders of Africa that the African people aspire to participate in the global process, no longer as by-standers, but as active participants,” she stressed.

President Sirleaf described the launched Common African Position as comprehensive, and that it contains Africa’s key priorities and gives a broad and general roadmap towards solutions that Africa needs to implement so that many of its people can truly benefit from the riches of the continent’s land and resources.

The Chair of the High-Level Committee indicated that the Committee remains mindful that, no matter how well written and glossy a document may be, the greatest challenge is to transform into action the priorities that have been set as pillars of the Development Agenda. She therefore urged all to take ownership of the process. She pointed out that negotiations have already started in many parts of the world, and Africa must engage appropriately. She was pleased that the meeting of Sherpas in N’Djamena was able to discuss proposals crafted by the Secretariat and partner delegations, for communication, outreach and negotiation strategies. She also added that even as the proposals are being further developed, they can serve as useful guide as the Committee embarks on the process of negotiation in the new few months.

She thanked President Idriss Deby, and through him the people of Chad, for the warm welcome and legendary hospitality; Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for her vision in proposing the establishing the High-Level Committee; the Secretariat of the HLC, led by the AU Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Dr. Anthony Mothe Maruping, the Sherpas, the Permanent Representatives in Addis and New York, as well as partners, for their valuable contributions towards the development of the document.

“Today marked the beginning of a new phase of our work. Let us go forward to show the people of Africa that we have listened and to show the world that we are united. We have common priorities and common objectives, and will work together to ensure that Africa’s best interests are not only protected, but advanced in the new global Development Agenda,” President Sirleaf concluded.

For her part, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, thanked the ten Heads of State and their countries for agreeing to serve on the Committee, and reflected that the Chad Meeting followed the presentation and adoption of the Draft Common African Position at the January AU Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dr. Dlamini-Zuma pointed out that Africa must create an enabling environment for economic transformation, poverty eradication and infrastructural development, and hoped that as the continent enters into a global negotiation on its Common Position, there will be greater unity for success. The addition of a new pillar on Peace and Security, she said, is critical to the African continent, which is usually engulfed with internal conflicts.

For their part, both President Deby of Chad and the Chairperson of the Authority of the Assembly of the African Union, Mauritanian President Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz, praised the strong leadership role of President Sirleaf, and thanked her for the service to the African continent. Both indicated that the Millennium Development Goals were not defined by Africans, but defined for Africans by the world, and so many African countries are unable to achieve the Goals. They hoped that the new Agenda, which now has strong African participation, will serve the continent better.

An 11-count Communiqué adopted at the close of the Chad Meeting, called the “N’Djamena Communiqué,” among other provisions, invites Africans to own the Common African Position which is composed of six pillars that meet the expressed aspirations of the African people. The pillars are: Structural economic transformation and inclusive growth; Science, technology and innovation; Human-centered development; Environmental sustainability, natural resource management and a risk management of natural disasters; Peace and Security; and Finance and Partnership.

The Communiqué also requests partners to support Africa in implementing the Common Position; recommends its implementation by all constituencies at the national, regional and continental levels, and calls upon stakeholders to give their active support throughout the process; commends the Chairperson of the High-Level Committee, President Sirleaf, for her leadership in accomplishing the mission. The Communiqué also expresses appreciation for the coordination role played by the African Union Commission and the technical support provided by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission, the United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Population Fund.

It also emphasized that the adoption of the document will provide Member States of the African Union with the relevant framework, allowing them to speak with one voice and to coordinate efforts to achieve the aspirations of the African peoples in socio-economic development based on inclusive growth in the context of the Post-2015 Development Agenda; expressed deep gratitude to H. E. President Idriss Deby Itno, the Chadian Government and people for the warm welcome and hospitality and excellent arrangements made to facilitate the work of the High-Level Committee, among others.