The Socialist International Africa Committee, met in Abidjan on 14 and 15 June 2008, centering its discussions on four main themes:
the situation in Côte d’Ivoire
the strengthening of democracy and the eradication of national conflicts, and
the food crisis and its impact on Africa
the challenge to peace and security in Africa
A number of conclusions arose from the Committee’s rich and fruitful debates:
In relation to the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the Committee noted that the process is well underway and that it is necessary to adhere to the Ouagadougou Accords and to do everything possible so that the elections are held on the date planned. For this, it is necessary to develop a programme to tackle the problems that inhibit the total deployment of the administration in order to ensure the security of the people and to eradicate the economic and social consequences of the war. It is also necessary to ensure the consequent financing of the whole process with the participation of the international community.
Taking into account the valuable efforts which have been made by the Ivorian authorities, the Committee welcomes the dialogue and congratulates the actors involved.They should be encouraged to achieve their goals. Reaffirming the need for confidence between the actors in the peace process, they are invited to proceed to a real and valid disarmament of all those who illegally retain arms and to take on board all the other issues which could hinderthe process.
In regard to the reinforcement of democracy to eradicate national conflicts, there was agreement on the need to promote the constitutional state based on a citizen’s conscience, respectful of the necessary requirements for the consolidation of the state, a requisite for good governance and for the fight against corruption. It was also agreed that it was necessary to develop strategies to reduce poverty and misery, to promote democratic culture through adequate education, to make the media accessible to alland to ensure an administrative organisation facilitating the participation of all.
On this issue was also important the fight against the monopolisation of power through the manipulation of the Constitution. It was equally important to ensure the integrity of a Constitution grounded and on pure and unshakable bases.Civil society organisations should be encouraged, democracy inside political parties should be promoted, and it was necessary to pay attention to the globalcontext in which the African democracies were evolving. It was important to be vigilant in relation to space accorded to the social and political minorities as well as being mindful of the demographic youth of African countries as well as the gender dimension in national policies and programmes, in line with UN resolution 1325.
In the discussion on the food crisis which currently affects the world and which has led to demonstrations in urban areas, it was noted that it draws its source from the liberal political thinking on the world economy. It springs also from the action of international institutions, the research of alternative energy sources to oil, of the growth in demand in the emerging countries, the failure of agricultural policies exacerbated by the refusal of the principle of subsidies in the under-developed countries, and the consequences of armed conflict.
It was in the first place necessary to pay tribute to African women and to recognise their role in the production of food crops and the commercialisation of staple foods. It was also considered necessary to take into account their education so that they can fully participate in the development of new agricultural policies.
In relation to solutions, it was necessary in the short term, to increase the role of international solidarity by adopting an emergency plan of food aid through the international institutions, including the United Nations World Fund, which the committee commended. It even appeared that western banks issue in the Stock Exchange shares connected to speculation on food products. It would be advisable to forbid the circulation of such shares.
In the medium term, it will be necessary to limit the use of biofuels in order not to damage the production of basic foodstuffs, but rather to promote them, as well as the investment in agricultural production. An essential resolution is the one to produce what we consume and to consume what we produce. It is also important to tackle the ideological source of the problem, re-examining the liberal economic model. An alert system at world level would permit an adequate allocation of the available world resources to favour the promotion of democracy rather than the absurd arms race.
The existence of several challenges to peace and security in the continent was mentioned. It was agreed, therefore, to define these challenges in order to design strategies that allow for their solution. The African Union must become operational and effective in the areas of peace, security and resolution of conflicts, to make the United Nations system more democratic, and to fight against impunity. To recommend to the African countries members of the African Union to show more solidarity, avoiding, in particular, that they become the rearguard of rebel factions against a legitimate government.
It is important to ensure and increase women representation at all levels of the decision-making process for the prevention of conflicts, their management and regulation, to grant a particular protection to women, children and also to refugee populations in areas of conflict, and to put an end to impunity in the cases of sex crimes, including sex-specific violence.
The Africa Committee, seriously concerned by the post-election situation in Equatorial Guinea, the risk of civil war in Zimbabwe, and the instability in Guinea Conakry, calls on the governments of these countries to respect the rules of equality and transparency for the safeguard of civil peace and democratic principles.