The first session of the year of the Socialist International Africa Committee was held in Luanda on 26-27 July 2002. The debates focused on three themes: the process of conflict resolution to build a common future of peace for all; promoting and strengthening democratic governance; and, continuing the fight against poverty and advancing sustainable development.
At the outcome of full and fruitful discussions, it was agreed:
1. With regard to the process of conflict resolution to build a common future of peace for all:
• to create regional and sub-regional mechanisms of conflict resolution where they do not exist and see to their effective functioning by enabling them to enjoy the support of the international community through the African Union and the UN;
• to involve national institutions, beyond governments, and civil society to a greater degree in the efforts made in each sub-region or region of the continent to organise and strengthen solidarity between neighbouring countries;
• to involve civil society organisations, as needed, without excluding the traditional or religious institutions;
• to include, when the case arises, regional and trans-regional political organisations, such as the SI, in the efforts dedicated to conflict resolution and to building a common future for all;
• to promote a culture of peace with particular emphasis on education, tolerance and democracy, notably through educational programmes;
• to attach even greater importance to reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction;
• to deepen and extend political cooperation among social democratic forces and other democratic political groupings;
• to widen the participation of women in settling conflicts at decision-taking level;
• to form a Socialist International directory of socialist mediators and other experts, able to help to contribute further to resolving conflict and promoting a culture of peace, democracy and tolerance.
2. With regard to promoting and strengthening democratic governance:
Democratic governance continues to be of concern to the continent as a whole. While real progress has been made, certain resistance and undermining factors remain to be overcome. It is therefore necessary:
• to fight against illiteracy for greater participation of citizens in public life, with a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities;
• to promote a real culture of democracy so as to consolidate its gains so far and facilitate true democratic alternance;
• to legally regulate the financing of political parties, an essential factor in democratic political life;
• to see that the peoples of Africa invest themselves with modern and democratic constitutions;
• to ensure the complete adherence of those in government to the ideals of democracy and the rule of law;
• to ratify all conventions which aim to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence, notably that on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW);
• to adhere to the treaties creating the International Criminal Court which came into force on 1 July 2002;
• to vigorously condemn the non-respect of the democratic will of the African peoples, in the case of holding elections which are neither free nor fair, and restates its support in favour of all African democrats who are fighting today for just and transparent elections to take place.
3. With regard to continuing the fight against poverty and advancing sustainable development:
Poverty and sustainable development are two key challenges which face the world. Today, meeting these challenges also implies facing up to a process of globalisation which has deepened injustice and disparity within and between societies, in order to humanise change and open up opportunities for all peoples to build a more inclusive world based on solidarity.
There are numerous ways and means of eradicating poverty and rationally managing the environment, among them:
• to popularise the worldwide commitments and objectives in question (through publications and/or organising seminars)
• to encourage governments to fully respect the commitments to which they have agreed and to encourage civil society organisations to mobilise to the same end;
• to put particular emphasis on education and training, without forgetting research and systemisation of information;
• to work out a policy of setting salaries for African professional management in order to avoid a 'brain drain';
• to support the actions of international organisations in their efforts to effectively apply the commitments in favour of reducing poverty and sustainable development, with particular attention to the action of:
- the FAO against hunger and for food security;
- the WHO against malaria and AIDS;
- UNICEF against the exploitation, malnutrition and for the vaccination of children;
- the UNDP for good governance, peace and stability.
• to ensure the transfer of technology on a non-commercial basis;
• to manage the informal sector more rationally in an institutional framework.
Given the important role played by women in African society:
• to reassess, adopt and apply macro-economic policies and strategies of development responding to the needs and efforts of women living in poverty.
In the context of the fight against poverty, for good governance and sustainable development, the Committee sees as a major advance the initiatives which African people are undertaking today, as they put the New Partnership for Africa's Development, NEPAD, into effect.
On the eve of the holding of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, African social democrats and socialists hope that the decisions the international community will take on this occasion will place Africa at the centre of commitments for a fairer world based on solidarity.
Finally, the Committee welcomes the recent formation of the African Union and hopes that this new organisation will succeed in giving the peoples of the region an effective instrument to turn their aspirations for peace, progress and development into reality.