Analysis by Jaya Ramachandran
BERLIN | PORT MORESBY (IDN) – The heads of State and Government of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are asking the United Nations to take two important initiatives commended by their eighth Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
The Group is calling for earliest adoption of a United Nations General Assembly Resolution to develop an international legal framework governing human rights and climate change with a view to protecting the human rights and interests of people displaced by impacts of climate change internally and across borders.
It is also proposing that a joint conference be convened by the UN and international financial institutions with the support of the European Commission and its Member States to discuss “strategies for financing multiannual development programmes of the ACP countries”.
Such a conference would also focus on policies for the “intensification of South-South and Triangular Cooperation to build the productive capacities of ACP countries”.
Documents endorsed by the Summit that concluded on June 1 underscored that the Group is craving a new and more influential role at the United Nations and in other powerful global governance organizations that would also allow the President of the Summit and the Secretary-General of the Group to participate in major international meetings of strategic significance to the ACP such as those of the G20.
In another significant move, the Group leaders acknowledged “the effective contribution” that the long-standing partnership with the European Union has made to the development of ACP States.
“They nevertheless pointed to the need to count primarily on ACP Member States’ own efforts and strengths, as well as the need for diversified partnerships if the ACP Group is to achieve a level of social and economic development in keeping with the expectations of our populations.”
Leaders convening in Papua New Guinea outlined a new outlook for the Group, based on deliberations on the Final Report of the ACP Eminent Persons Group (EPG), as well as the Report by the Council of Ministers to Summit.
The future of the Group will be anchored on a commitment to South-South solidarity and increased effectiveness in the global arena, a streamlined mandate that adds value to global efforts, and concrete steps towards financial sustainability.
The Summit accepted the EPG report, with an implementation plan expected by the end of 2016, subject to further analysis at national and regional levels.
“The Summit adopted the Port Moresby Declaration that captures the main outcomes of the leaders’ discussions, and the Waigani Communiqué that sets the way forward for the future of the ACP Group beyond the expiry of the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2020… I believe this Summit has inspired us to take the giant steps in our approach that will shape and transform the ACP Group into a more dynamic force,” stated the President of the 8th ACP Summit, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neill.
The Waigani Communiqué reaffirmed the vision that the ACP Group take a lead role in efforts to improve the living standards of its citizens through good governance, promoting trade and investment particularly at the intra-ACP level, entrepreneurship and building capacity in the private sector, access to technology, and South-South, North-South and Triangular Cooperation.
Noting the ‘urgent need for reform’ in the organisation, leaders discussed how to streamline the Group’s mandate to be more results-oriented and people-focused. This entails the restructuring of the Brussels-based ACP Secretariat.
The Summit also agreed on the need for the Group to work towards improving financial self-sufficiency, including the establishment of a Long Term Endowment Fund. At the same time, ACP leaders committed to jointly exploring additional forms of development finance such as public-private partnerships, domestic resource mobilisation, and the reduction and recovery of illicit financial flows from ACP countries.
“While building consensus amongst 79 member countries can be a challenge, there is a clear and compelling need for an organisation that promotes the interests of developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries, Small Islands Developing States, and Landlocked Developing Countries, which make up the bulk of the ACP membership.
“Common needs concerning trade and development, climate change, and access to energy and technology can be addressed together, building on each other’s expertise and knowledge and pushing for the same causes at the global level,” said Assistant Secretary General of the ACP Group in charge of Political Affairs and Human Development, Ambassador Léonard Ognimba.
A key concern for the ACP Group is the upcoming negotiations on the follow up partnership framework with the European Union (EU). Current relations between African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the 28-nation EU in terms of trade, political dialogue and development cooperation, are governed by the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement. As the expiration of the Agreement approaches in 2020, negotiations to shape a post-Cotonou partnership are expected to begin in 2018.
The Summit expressed its determination to renew and enhance the ACP-EU partnership with a legally-binding agreement, building on the experience and gains obtained under the Cotonou Partnership Agreement.
The Summit resolved to jointly identify issues of common interest with EU partners to ensure that the ACP-EU cooperation takes into account the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), promotion of regional trade and integration, and financing for development, among others.
The Summit leaders recognised the need for closer cooperation among themselves and with their partners for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to which all UN Member States committed in September 2015.
They underlined the urgency of mobilising adequate resources and financing to ensure the sustainable development to which all peoples aspire as well as capacity building and the transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries on favourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed;
They also recognized the nexus between migration and development and, within the framework of Agenda 2030, to mainstream migration in sectoral policies to achieve policy coherence across all sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, education, health and economic planning, as well as institutional interventions for the protection of migrant rights.
“We salute the driving force of women as engines for sustainable development in our communities, and commit to supporting their advancement notably through promoting gender equality and equal representation, improving rural livelihoods, and their socio-economic development,” the ACP leaders said.
ACP Group leaders reiterated their conviction that the economic and social development of their countries can only be realised in an environment of sustainable peace, security, political stability and respect for human rights. While they acknowledge progress made in conflict resolution and prevention, as well as the consolidation of democratic processes and the rule of law, they are concerned by the escalation of terrorist attacks in some member states.
“We commit to continue working towards embedding a culture of peace and democracy and we underscore in this respect, the central role of regional integration organisations and the importance of intra-ACP cooperation in promoting architectures for regional peace and security, as well as dialogue and reconciliation mechanisms,” the leaders declared.
“We are determined to ensure strict observance of all human rights in keeping with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities and other international human rights agreements, by strengthening the political, legal, economic and social institutions of our States,” they added. [IDN-InDepthNews – 4 June 2016]
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
Photo: A view of the ACP Summit. Credit: CTA