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Report on the Forum on Governance co-organised with the African Union in Addis Ababa, November 2005

By Momar El hadj Dieng, Karine Goasmat (The Alliance for Rebuilding Governance in Africa, March 2006)

The African Union Commission (AUC) and the Alliance for Rebuilding Governance in Africa organised a forum on governance in Africa in Addis Ababa on 24-26 November 2005.

The reason for such an encounter, which was reaffirmed in the Forum’s concluding declaration, is that “Governance is the crux of the difficulties affecting African societies and constitutes a major source of the current crisis situations and conflicts” and “dialogue and partnerships, involving all players, are essential for a successful process of rebuilding governance in Africa.”. The essential goal of this forum was to help link the many innovative governance initiatives and experiments supported and implemented by the various families of actors (government leaders, local authorities, civil society, the private sector, regional organisations) with the African Union’s action in the field of governance. It was the first step toward, in the words of the concluding declaration in “constructing a coalition of actors in governance in partnership with the African Union and its various organisations”.

A final declaration and plan of action

The final declaration and plan of action were inspired by the quality work done in workshops, the diversity of views expressed and the clarity of the resulting synthesis. Both are a breath of fresh air and reflect a strong desire to move forward: “Governance is the crux of the difficulties affecting African societies and constitutes a major source of the current crisis situations and conflicts” and “African States must collectively envisage and implement a form of governance in which the different players recognise one another and which fulfils their aspirations.”.

The action plan, for its part, indicates the first steps to be taken to implement this strategy: “hold such an inter-African Forum at regular intervals, jointly organised by the African Union and the Alliance in order to combine the various initiatives and evaluate the progress made in the implementation of an African governance plan”; “this inter-African forum should then be organised into regional and subregional workshops, following the same working method to ensure mutual enrichment and indepth analysis”; affirmation of the need to start with the local level to rebuild governance naturally leads us to “recommend improved representation of local government associations within the African Union”. Likewise, the insistence on partnership between actors leads us to “greater inclusion of the private sector, including the informal sector, in the conception and implementation of public action”; the close link between governance, conflict and peace stressed by the declaration suggests that cooperation between the African Union and the Alliance, bringing together all organisations in civil societies could, beyond measures required to maintain order, lead to “original views on building peace based on a more legitimate, deeper-rooted governance which is more capable of taking diversity into account”; finally, in addition to the inter-African network for the exchange of experiences launched by the final declaration, an inter-African network of research institutes could provide intellectual, collective support for a type of governance nourished by the multiple traditions of governance in Africa.

All this of course provides the outline of an agenda. The Plan of action and recommendations from the three days of work can be divided into eight partnership projects with the African Union.

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