The United Nations has launched a new initiative to promote Africa’s agenda. Organised by the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA), the Africa Dialogue Series (ADS) will provide interactive opportunities to discuss and identify areas in which the UN, the African Union and the broader international community can mobilise efforts for a prosperous and peaceful Africa.
The first of the series last October saw a wide range of participants, including representatives of member states, the UN and African regional and subregional organisations, as well as representatives of the private sector, civil society, academia, think tanks, the diaspora and other key stakeholders, meeting in New York to discuss peace, humanitarian assistance, security, human rights and development in Africa.
ADS 2018, which coincided with the 15th anniversary of OSAA’s establishment, also served as an opportunity to identify areas for support for the Sahel.
Bience Gawanas, UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa, set the tone at the opening of the series when she stated that Africa was full of hope, aspirations and youthful energy that can advance peace, security and sustainable development. “Africa is driving its own agenda—African countries are becoming more prosperous and growing more integrated,” Ms. Gawanas said. Under the theme “A Stronger UN-AU Partnership for Peace, Security and Development in Africa,” experts and other guests at the event explored ways to improve the partnership between the AU and the UN. Participants agreed that it was time to move from talk to action. “Africa does not lack frameworks. We lack implementation,” said Abdalla Hamdok, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa.
OSAA intends to build synergies across the UN system in support of Africa’s priorities, Ms. Gawanas said. At the same time, it plans to promote African voices and foster an understanding of the region’s experiences on peace and development issues.
In 2019, the Africa Dialogue Series will be held on Africa Day, 25 May. The organisers hope to get concrete and actionable recommendations on key issues emanating from the debates.
Ibrahim Mayaki, the CEO of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), underscored the importance of developing strategic partnerships at a time of constant attacks on multilateralism. Mr. Mayaki represented the AU Commission chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, at the event. The AU’s permanent representative to the UN, Fatima Mohammed, called for shared responsibility on issues relating to Africa. It was a sentiment shared by many participants.
The ADS took place against the backdrop of reforms at both the UN and the AU. The AU reforms, Mr. Mayaki said, include ensuring that the youth represent 35% of its workforce by 2025 to make the organization “fit for purpose.” OSAA expects the ADS to help shift dialogue at the UN headquarters “from policy to effective and results-based implementation of the joint UN-AU Frameworks for Peace and Security, and implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda.”
The UN and AU frameworks, signed within the last two years, are designed to support efforts to tackle security challenges as well as drive development on the continent. Bringing the youth to the decision-making table was a recurring theme at the ADS. “If Africa were to operate based on a system of feedback and hearing not only the concerns but the solutions from the youth, then I believe we can truly prosper,”*emphasised Ted Apondi, the UN digital representative.
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