A meeting of the SI Committee on the Economy, Social Cohesion and the Environment took place at the United Nations Office at Nairobi on 8-9 April 2005, to give a more regional approach to the work of the Committee, focussing discussions on the African continent.
The impact of globalisation in Africa and the continent’s influence on governance in a global society was the main theme of the discussions. Delegates underlined that until now the effects of globalisation had largely marginalised Africa and that the international community had an obligation to support efforts to increase the share of African exports in the global trading system. The Committee also recalled that democratic governance was one of the essential elements for the African continent to progress, and this included respect for human rights, a multi-party political system which encourages the participation of women in the political life of the country, free and fair elections, effective trade unions and a system of decentralisation.
Committee members also examined a second semi-annual review on democratic governance for sustainable development, which will be submitted at the next Council, and during their discussion, delegates underlined the importance of the role played by the African Union — a key player in the prevention and resolution of armed conflicts in Africa — and emphasised that African political parties should be able to play an important role at the heart of this organisation. With regard to the issue of the Millennium Development Goals, on which a draft declaration will also be submitted at the next Council on 23-24 May, the Committee made the point that in order to eradicate poverty, the African continent must be able to count on international financial assistance, which must be concentrated on public goods, that is infrastructure; a health system giving priority to the prevention of HIV/AIDS and to the pre- and post-natal healthcare of women and children; information technologies; a free education system at all levels; professional training; and housing policies to better living conditions in slums. The positive role of local authorities in putting into practice the MDGs was also put forward.
The meeting, which was chaired by Christoph Zöpel (SPD, Germany), Chair of the Committee, counted on the participation, amongst others, of African member parties of the SI — the ANC from South Africa, the Botswana National Front, the ADEMA-PASJ from Mali, the Union of Socialist Forces from Morocco and the Constitutional Democratic Assembly from Tunisia. It was decided that the next meeting would be held on 22 May, before the SI Council meeting, to discussSI position papers on the reform of the United Nations; on the reform of Global Financial Institutions; and, on Trade and Social Rights and to hold exchange on the upcoming second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis (16-18 November 2005).