|AWG Engagement Report|

68th/69th[1] UN General Assembly

New York | United States | 22 September-3 October 2014

Prepared by Masiiwa Rusare and Oyebisi Babatunde Oluseyi with additional notes from Paul Okumu and Nahmla
  1. Background

The 68th and 69th UN General Assembly provided the Civil Society Africa Working Group on Post 2015 (AWG) the opportunity to raise its profile and to engage with government, the UN system and various non-state actors on the new global development as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) near its end by 2015.This meeting report summarizes and synthesizes proceedings and outcomes of the various meetings and side events attended by the AWG delegation and implications for the AWG work program.

  1. Objectives of mission

The key objectives of the AWG in attending the UNGA were;

  • To determine the direction of post 2015 conversations and ascertain the big focus areas that can move the agenda forward
  • To prepare for a follow up engagement with the Africa Group in November
  • To engage country delegations at UNGA
  1. Key Results
  • New information gathered on the Post 2015 agenda-particularly on the reluctance by European states to accept the SDG goals and instead would like an MDG plus agenda. The focus on advocacy in Europe is therefore one of the new areas that the working group will need to consider over the next coming months.
  • Connections were made again with Africa governments. But this time it went further with meetings held with the top leadership of the Africa Union-both in New York and Addis.
  • An agreement by the Africa Union and the Africa Group (the informal Africa Caucus) to hold a strategy meeting with the Africa Working Group on Post 2015 in late November.
  • Relationships established with CSOs in New York-including the United Nations Association and several organizations working on areas of Peace and development.
  • Agreement for a potential joint collaboration with Beyond 2015 during the proposed meeting in November.
  • New relationships were built with the New Team at the UNDP. The new senior team has agreed to work with Africa Civil Society to strengthen relations with government and engage in development.
  • The Africa Working Group Transformative area is now widely known within governments in New York, and has been widely accepted since they are seen to align with the Africa’s ambitions for the Post 2015.
  1. Unplanned Results
  • The meeting with Beyond 2015 was not planned. However it ended as a call and request by Beyond 2015 to work in partnership with the AWG. We will consider these options and consider leveraging resources for future engagements.
  • We gained considerable intelligence on what is currently happening within the UN. This will be very helpful in our support to the Africa Group (the informal team of Africa governments in New York).
  • The special meeting with Peacebuilding organizations in New York was not in our program. It ended up being a call by New York based organizations to mentor Africa CSOs on strategies of engagement with the UN and the UN system.
  • The meeting with CSOs working on Financing was intended to provide learning on the work of this group. But in the end the attendance of the UNDESA special advisor on Financing for Post 2015 and the SDGs opened up a new contact. He has agreed to support the Africa working group to ensure they get priority during the processes leading to the summit on Financing for Development in Addis next year.
  • We also discovered, to our surprise that there is an Office of the United Nations Special Advisor on Africa. This office seeks to engage member states in discussions and strategies to move the Africa agenda. They have promised to work with the Africa Civil Society in all aspects of relationship with Africa Governments.
  • During the meeting with the Danish Ambassador we learnt that he has submitted his name for candidacy of the Co-Chairs to the Intergovernmental process that begins in January. It will be positive for the AWG in that we already have strong relations with him
  1. Participants from the Africa Working Group

Namhla Mlikiso- Africa Monitor

  1. Masiiwa Rusare-Africa Monitor
  2. Patrick Ngozi-Interfaith Forum on Post 2015
  • Mwangi Waituru- Seed Institute
  1. Oyebisi Babatunde- Nigeria Network of NGOs
  2. Doris Mpomou-UWASNET
  3. Bob Munyati-Accountability initiative
  • Ross Bailey-Wateraid
  • Selamawit Tesfaye-Beyond 2015
  1. Balkissa Ide Siddo-Beyond 2015
  1. Key Findings and issues

 

  1. Meetings with Key players

 

A meeting with the head of the African Union Observer mission (Amb. Tete Antonio) and the Africa Group coordinator of the second committee (Noel Kaganda) laid the basis for the November engagement. They reiterated their willingness to engage the Africa CSO working Group and pointed on the importance of developing a joint agenda for the November meeting to ensure that the engagement is addressing mutual needs. Ambassador Tete Antonio offered the AU Conference facilities for the meeting and also was open to an open format for the meeting (either meeting the ambassadors separately from the team of 2nd committee of Experts or meeting them together). They also pointed to the importance of viewing the post 2015 process not just as a development agenda but also a political process that is being played at the UN (which is itself a political theatre).They also pointed out that there is significant traction on the Common Africa Position and the Africa Group is now engaging other blocks using the Common Africa Position (CAP)

AN engagement with the United Nations Millenium Campaign was quite insightful. The UNMC pointed out that it is still not clear, what will form the basis of negotiations; the modalities resolution is key to answering this. They also indicated that accountability remains an important issue even within negotiations. In taking the accountability discussions forward, it is necessary to include parliamentarians, civil society and galvanize national level action as national level accountability is key to the attainment of the post 2015 development agenda.

Meetings were also held with country delegations from Zambia, Angola, Cameroon and South Africa to get their perspectives on the negotiations process and the place and role of Civil Society. These were the key contact points in charge of MDGs at country level. It was clear that in countries such as Cameroon, Zambia and Angola; there is no clear MDG unit or office whose role is to solely focus on the post 2015 process. Most of them clearly indicated that the post 2015 process is just one of the several things they do and hence they do not spend much time on this. A delegate from Cameroon also indicated that the level of engagement with CSOs is still very weak and implored the Africa CSO Working Group to strengthen the capacity of the Cameroonian CSOs. From this interaction, it is clear that a lot of work still needs to be done at the country level and the Africa CSO Working Group’s emphasis on strengthening the technical capacity of country level CSOs and linking them with the relevant delegations working on post 2015 is timely.

The Africa Union invited us to a reflection on the Implementation framework of a goal on peaceful societies. It was chaired by the Africa Union Commissioner for Economic Affairs and the office of Bureau for Policy and Programs at UNDP.  It was attended by over 40 governments from across the world, as well as UN senior team.

The meeting agreed that Africa had no other option but to pursue a peaceful agenda as part of its development work post 2015. It was also reaffirmed that the Post Common Africa Position and Vision 2063 remains Africa’s focus for its negotiations in the Post 2015 as well as in its future work.

Additional meetings were held with the former United Nations High Level Panel Chief of Staff (Karinah Galehah) and UNDP Senior Team working on Policy and Program.

They provided their reflections on want areas needs attention in moving the agenda forward-with both insisting that what is key now is to focus on the Indicator Development process as well as the Implementation, Accountability and Financing. These, they all stated, is what will determine the practicality of the SDG and Post 2015 process.

Finally there was a follow up meeting with the Danish Ambassador (Ib Patterson) to the United Nations, who is also the Co-Chair (together with Papua New Guinea) of the Modalities Development Team. He reaffirmed his support to the work of the Africa Working Group and was excited to hear that the Group has had active engagement with the Africa Union and that the Common Africa Position and Vision 2063 is Africa’s focus agenda. He said he would ask his European colleagues to do the same-working with their governments to anchor the Post 2015 agenda on broader regional and national strategies.

But he has stated that they have reservations with the Goal as they are and would like to see them made more “implementable”.

On a positive note he has submiited his name for candidacy of the Co-Chairs to the Intergovernmental process that begins in January. It will be positive for the AWG in that we already have strong relations with him.

  1. Outcome of plenary meetings and side meetings

There were several discussions and engagements on partnership with private sector and government for implementation and accountability. Because the post 2015 agenda is being touted as “for everyone” especially by the big powers, the role of private sector and the partnerships are important. The partnership with private sector concept is still hazy and means different things to different people. So there is a role for Africa CSOs in terms of articulating the kind of partnerships we believe can deliver not only on the goals but also on the realities and aspirations of African citizens. We also need to ensure that the business models on which these partnerships are being established are sustainable and deliver on the expectations of the African citizen. In addition, as CSOs we also need to make sure that this partnership by private sector doesn’t free developed country governments of their obligations and commitments to the post 2015 process.

It is also clear that the focus of the major funders is turning to supporting innovation. A global innovations fund was “unveiled” by AUSAID, USAID, DFID among others. Presentations by the private companies regarding their innovations mostly focused on how much they are creating a market for the products and hence meeting MDGs. However not much was said in terms of technology transfer and ability of such innovations to support a broader entrepreneurship base. Thus the issue of technology transfer for development is critical in moving forward

What was equally striking was the non-committal or lack of visibility of the big players (mainly USA, China and other developed countries) regarding the post 2015 process. It means that a lot of these countries don’t seem to be prioritizing post 2015 process (at least as of now). What this means also is that they are less willing to commit resources to the process and this ties in with the increasing calls to “reduce reliance on aid”, “widen domestic resource mobilization”, “strengthen partnerships”. While these issues are quite noble and we as African CSOs have also been pushing our governments on these issues, lets be careful lest they become a double edge sword in the sense of letting developed countries “off the hook” regarding their obligations.

The decision by most member states to make the OWG outcome the basis of discussions is significant. As we await the adoption of the modalities resolution (which will spell out how the September meeting will be hosted), it is important to note that a number of the big players are still uncomfortable with using the OWG text as basis for negotiation. So they may be happy for this to be diluted by the other parallel processes (such as Experts Report on Financing for Development, Secretary General’s Report and the Report on Technology Transfer). They are also not happy because the OWG outcomes are more comprehensive and have potential to be transformative. So as the goals are whittled down to 10 or so; there is a possibility that a lot of the transformational issues will be taken off the agenda in favour of an MDG plus agenda. So as African CSOs we need to be wary of that and guard jealously the transformative issues of importance to Africa. We also need to raise awareness among our negotiations (both in New York and Capitals) on the importance of guarding jealously the transformational issues

From the discussions, it is also clear that the role of CSOs in the post 2015 MDG process is fast shrinking. Data partnerships being championed by the UN system in partnership with cell-phone companies and big companies such as Microsoft have potential to corporatize development information and freeze citizens and CSO out of the equation. This compromises the key principles of ownership, participation that CSOs have championed for long.

During all these engagements; the Africa CSO Working Group members had opportunity to touch base and explore ways of working together amongst various civil society platforms working on the post 2015 agenda. The main focus of the meeting was to touch-base and plan on the engagement with Africa Group in November 2014. A detailed Report of the meeting is attached.

During this trip, we also managed to gather some intelligence from UN delegations, the UN System and civil society actors in terms of the next phase of negotiations and some of the issues worth noting include;

  • There is need to work closely with NGLS and Office of the PGA
  • We need to focus on doing better, bigger and smarter in terms of South-South cooperation
  • We should not expect “quote for quote” of the Open Working Group (OWG) texts in the next global development agenda
  • Accountability has to be one of the strong imperatives the new global development goals
  • It is important for CSO’s to read the millennium declaration for aspects of the declaration that provides legitimacy for CSO’s within the MDGs.
  • Next phase of work that merits the attention of CSOs and campaigners is framing our messages for negotiations.
  1. Implications for the Africa CSO Working Group moving forward

 

  • Africa CSO Working Group need to be at the forefront of articulating the partnerships with the private sector that delivers on goals
  • AWG need to balance its focus on pushing for accountability by African governments as well as Northern governments. So it’s equally important to ensure that developed country governments make solid commitments to delivering on the post 2015 process
  • The politics of negotiations is important and judging by the way negotiations are proceeding, the role of African CSOs should go beyond the traditional “pushing for issues” etc to focus on the emerging politics of the negotiations
  • As the goals get trimmed to 10 or so, Africa CSO Working Group need to raise awareness among our negotiations (both in New York and Capitals) on the importance of guarding jealously the transformational issues of importance to Africa. There is a real possibility that these may be lost in the goals reduction process
  • It is important to for CSO’s to read the millennium declaration for aspects of the declaration that provides legitimacy for CSO’s within the MDGs.
  • Next phase of work that merits the attention of CSOs and campaigners is framing our messages for negotiations.
  1. Conclusion

The Africa CSO Working Group sincerely appreciates the support from the Commonwealth Foundation and the Africa Platform, that enabled a representative to participate at the UNGA meeting. On the basis of the outlined objectives, the meeting was a success and we looking forward to follow-up action.

Annex- Meetings attended and held by Africa Working Group Members

[1] The 68th UN General Assembly officially ended about a week to the arrival of Heads of States. The 69th session will run until September next year.

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