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Addis Ababa, 25 June 2024 – Today marked the successful conclusion of the Africa Facility to Support Inclusive Transitions (AFSIT) inaugural Regional Dialogue Series on Deepening Democracy, Good Governance, and Inclusive Political Transitions in the Horn of Africa. The event took place at the Old Plenary Hall of the African Union Commission.

The event attracted over 100 stakeholders from civil society, governments, intergovernmental organisations and partners dedicated to fostering democratic principles and sustainable governance across the region. It was convened by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and organized in collaboration with the United Nations Office of the Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa (OSE_HoA), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Secretariat, and International IDEA.

The Horn of Africa, comprising Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda faces complex challenges. The range from recurring conflict, terrorism and poverty to forced displacements and the impacts of climate change. Although political transition processes have created space for dialogue, constitutional reform, transitional justice and other reforms, they have also led to contestations for power and access to resources.

However, the region is also home to a vibrant population of 300 million people, with 70% under the age of 30. This youthful demographic represents a vast reservoir of potential, poised to drive economic growth, seize emerging opportunities, and champion positive change.

“We speak about ‘Agenda 2063: The Africa we want’, but we must also engage in the democracy we want — the democracy our people, especially our youth want, the democracy that delivers as a political transition without actual delivery would be futile,” said Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security at the AUC in his keynote address.

His call for renewed focus on citizen-centric democracy was echoed by Hannah Tetteh, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa, who underscored the need for continuous engagement. “Strengthening democratic institutions is crucial for a just and equitable society. We can drive inclusive transitions by centring citizens in our political discussions, addressing challenges head-on, and reimagining our governance structures.”

Matthias Naab, Director of the Regional Service Centre for Africa, UNDP, further emphasized the transformative potential of inclusive participation. “The AFSIT initiative has highlighted the importance of inclusive participation and the need to transform crisis into opportunities,” he said, adding: “Building stronger governance frameworks and fostering collaboration can achieve meaningful progress for the Horn of Africa."

Another key theme was the importance of cooperation. Ambassador of Norway in Ethiopia, Stian Christensen,? remarked on this driver of inclusive transformation, saying: “The key to good governance is the interface between all actors — government, political parties and civil society. They must ensure collective ownership and mutual benefit for citizens. Building this foundation is crucial for a lasting social contract.”

The success of AFSIT hinges on robust national and international partnerships, with regional economic communities and CSOs playing a crucial role. The IGAD Secretariat, represented by its Deputy Executive Secretary, H.E Mohamed Abdi Ware, emphasized the importance of constitutional order, good governance, peaceful and predictable elections, and respect for human rights as key ingredients for success, inclusivity and active public participation. “IGAD is developing a Governance Forum platform to promote the AFSIT and support inclusive regional transitions,” he announced.

Speaking on the role CSOs, Winluck Wahiu, Senior Adviser, Constitution Building Processes at International IDEA, highlighted that: “CSOs are vital in driving democratic reforms. Enhancing their research, advocacy, and peacebuilding capacities will significantly contribute to the region's stability and governance."

The regional dialogue series underscored the importance of African solutions to African problems, highlighting the need for collective efforts to create lasting change and long-term peace and stability.

Key recommendations included:

  1. Promote the participation of CSOs in the African Transition Index (ATI) to provide insights and analysis on political transitions and ensure the socialization of findings;
  2. Enhance the capacities of CSOs in research, advocacy, negotiation, political processes, peacebuilding and governance to strengthen their effectiveness during political transitions;
  3. Strengthen local governance frameworks to bridge the gap between central and peripheral regions, ensuring local ownership and inclusive participation in political processes;
  4. Promote the inclusion of topics such as social justice, peacebuilding and conflict resolution in school curricula to prepare youth for active roles in civil society; and
  5. Create an online platform for continuous engagement on political transitions, allowing CSOs to collaborate, share information and stay informed on governance issues and political transitions.

The AFSIT Regional Dialogue in the Horn of Africa is the inaugural event in a series set to span the continent. The series aims to develop a shared assessment of democratic governance and political transition in the respective regions. It aims to facilitate an exchange of experiences, best practices and lessons learned, while strengthening collaboration between state and non-state actors, including governments, opposition parties and CSOs. Additionally, it explores opportunities for collaboration to bolster democratic processes and enhance social cohesion. The series also focuses on building consensus on key issues, identifying strategic areas of support and proposing strategies for effectively engaging CSOs in multilateral initiatives. 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Fatma Ahmed, Specialist – Africa Facility to Support Inclusive Transitions, Regional Programme for Africa in the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa. Email: fatma.ahmed@undp.org

For media inquiries or interviews :

  • Ms. Laetitia Ouoba, Communications Specialist, Regional Programme for Africa in the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa. Email: laetitia.ouoba@undp.org
  • Ms. Limi Mohammed, Communication Focal Point for Governance and Conflict Prevention Directorate and Web Administrator in the Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department, African Union Commission. Email: shashlm@africa-union.org

 

About AFSIT:  The Africa Facility to Support Inclusive Transitions (AFSIT) is a joint initiative by the AUC and UNDP to support complex political transitions in Africa, promoting democratic governance, peace and security in alignment with Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063.

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Posted by Limi Mohammed

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