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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Africa: UN-NADAF NGO Papers
Any links to other sites in this file from 1996 are not clickable,
given the difficulty in maintaining up-to-date links in old files.
However, we hope they may still provide leads for your research.
Africa: UN-NADAF NGO Papers
Date Distributed (ymd): 960920

This posting includes brief excerpts from Background Papers 2
(trade), 3 (gender) and 4 (human rights).  Background Paper 1,
on debt, was previously distributed through this list.
Background Paper 5, the African NGO Networks Caucus statement
from the August 1996 meeting in Harare, will be distributed
following this posting.

The full texts of papers 2 (7K), 3 (16K) and 4 (16K) are
available in several ways:

(1) On the APC networks in the conference  The
conference has the UN Secretary-General's Report on
the Implementation of the New Agenda for Development of
Africa, in both English and French.

(2) On the Africa Policy web site at

[The Web site also includes the UN Secretary-General's

(3) by sending a precisely worded message, in one line, to  Please send a separate message for each
paper.  This is a semi-automatic reply, so there will be
additional delays in replying to different wordings.

For Background Paper 2 (trade), the message should read:

send mtbp2

For Background Paper 3 (gender), the message should read:

send mtbp3

For Background Paper 4 (human rights), the message should

send mtbp4

Excerpts from Background Paper Number 2, NGO Forum, UN-NADAF
Mid Term Review, September 13-14, 1996

Globalisation and Trade by Rudo Chitiga, Development
Innovations and Networks (IRED), Zimbabwe


The Special Initiative in the context of globalisation will
leave Africa marginalised vis a vis the other continents.
Trade and new investment have become the key instruments for
growth in the new economic order.  A major source of Africa's
problem has been the deteriorating terms of trade.  According
to the World Bank (1994) real commodity prices fell more than
half between 1980 and 1993.

Aid flows have failed to compensate for Africa's terms of
trade losses.  Recovery chances are further reduced by the
crippling debt burden which, according to UNCTAD, stood at 67%
of GNP in 1994.  The continent's total debt was US$317 billion
in 1994, corresponding to 231% of Africa's exports of goods
and services.

Africa still contributes only 0.4% of world manufactured goods
and commands less than 1% of world trade.  The new trade
arrangements under the World Trade Organisation will result in
losses to Africa amounting to $2.6 - $3.0 billion annually,
according to analysts in the OECD, World Bank and UNCTAD.  The
Special Initiative is only $25 billion over 10 years!


The current emphasis on the role of foreign investment in
promoting economic growth is worrying to many groups,
particularly grass roots groups in Africa.  We view the
encouragement of foreign investment as affirming the new
economic order where transnational corporations control and
determine the pace of development and globalisation.  The
conditions under which TNCs invest in Africa are unfavourable
to the welfare of its people. Such requirements as tax
holidays, profit repatriation and in some cases total
disregard for labour laws will leave Africa bare.  The
preference for TNCs for investment in extraction and timber
industries creates further threats to the environment in


Africa seems now to be split into two themes, namely the
social sector to be implemented and financed under the Special
Initiative and the economic sector which is directed by the
WTO, World Bank, IMF and TNCs.  The record of the Bretton
Woods Institutions in Africa is well known.  The new powers
given to the WTO are even more disenabling to local
initiatives and hopes for recovery in Africa.


Development Innovations and Networks (IRED), P.O. Box CY3,
Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe Tel: 263-4-796853 Fax: 263-4-722421
E-mail: ired@mango.ZW

Excerpts from Background Paper Number 3, NGO Forum, UN-NADAF
Mid Term Review, September 13-14, 1996


by Safiatu K. Singhateh, African Women's Development and
Communication Network (FEMNET) Kenya



From a regional perspective

2. Within the African Region similar consensus was reached in
several African fora namely the African regional preparatory
meeting for the 4th World Conference on Women in Dakar, the
African regional conference on peace in Kampala, the post
Beijing expert group meeting organised by the UN Economic
Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa and in other regional
meetings on thematic issues. In addition, all these meetings
reaffirmed that women in Africa are already playing crucial
roles in food production, household maintenance, and
reproduction and that achieving sustainable economic growth in
Africa will heavily depend on promoting the welfare and
productivity of women. However, they noted with great concern
that certain factors such as gender differentiated resource
allocation and prevailing social norms and practices inhibit
their full and active involvement in the development process.
Some of the specific gender problems identified by these
meetings and conferences include:


Operationalising gender in the African agenda

3. In the past few decades, Africa has seen a remarkable
improvement in the area of women/gender and development in
many respects. This positive development has been in many ways
associated with the intensive sensitisation on gender issues
in the continent. Some of the actions that have been taken
during this period by governments in Africa can be summarised
under the following:

3.1 Establishing frameworks for women's integration


3.2 Affirmative actions for involving women in leadership

Some African governments have taken affirmative actions to
reduce the gender gap at the decision making levels. For
instance, 90% of governments in the African Region have one or
more female ministers and all of them have deputy ministers or
members of Parliament or its equivalence. The Secretary
General of the Namibian ruling party is a female. The Gambia,
a small country in West Africa, has had four female ministers
for the past two years. Uganda has a female Vice President and
most recently Liberia has a female Head of State. All these
actions in a way indicate a positive sign of Government's
awareness of the importance of women's participation in the
development process in the Continent and more specifically
women's own assertiveness and determination to be involved in
the process. It remains however to be seen on how much more of
women's involvement at this level of development could be
sustained in order to make a real change within the Continent.

Facing the Challenges

4. In order to sustain these efforts and to make them a
reality, Africans and African governments must be prepared to
face up to the following challenges:


Engendering the African development agenda

5. Gender and Development in Africa should be conceived from
a multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional perspective. It should
aim at accelerating women's empowerment and create a system in
which women and men have equal rights and opportunities at all
stages of their lives to participate in, contribute to and
benefit from all aspects of development. Its approaches should
seek to redress imbalance in the power and resources available
to women and men as well as identifying the relative impact of
development policies and programmes.

6. While governments have strong obligation in fulfilling
their commitments to their peoples in all spheres of
development, attention should be focused on those
inter-related issues that would facilitate and enhance the
process for the achievement of a gender equitable society.
Some of these issues may include:


Role of NGOs



11. Given that the Africa Continent has and continues to be
the object of experimentation through new initiatives, it
should be noted that very few efforts have been put into
assessing the viability of such initiatives within the overall
context of the Africa's social and economic development. Past
experiences must be utilized in designing plans for new

12. The U.N. new initiative for Africa must make space for
mainstreaming gender. The experience of the structural
adjustment for Africa's economic recovery has had serious
adverse effects on women, children and other vulnerable
groups. The economic insecurity among people within the
continent has further exacerbated the growing political
instability among nations. These and other related issues
should be considered in the mid-term review.

13. The World Bank, the UN and other international, bilateral
and multilateral agencies are equally faced with challenges in
ensuring that Africa does not fail its people as it undertakes
the continuation of the implementation of UN-NADAF on the one
hand and adopting the UN system-wide special initiative on
Africa on the other.

14. The greatest challenge is the extent to which the civil
society government leaders and most importantly the
beneficiaries at the grassroots level will participate in
deciding on the various programme activities envisaged within
this initiative, their level of participation in the
implementation, monitoring of and assessing the impact and
effects that the programme will have on them and those after

African Women's Development and Communication Network
(FEMNET) P.O. Box 54652 Nairobi, Kenya Tel: 254-2-741301 Fax:
254-2-742927 E-mail:

Excerpts from Background Paper Number 4, NGO Forum, UN-NADAF
Mid Term Review, September 13-14, 1996

Human Rights, Democracy and Governance in Africa, 1991-1996

Akouete Akakpo-Vidah International Centre for Human Rights and
Democratic Development, Canada


The period under review was characterized by three important
and relevant phenomena: - a formal democratization process
with pluralistic elections; - a re-mobilization of civil
society in African countries, and the emergence of new
organizations aiming to promote human rights and democracy; -
a mobilization of the African diaspora for human rights and
democracy in Africa.

1. A formal democratization process

This process was characterized by the transformation of
political regimes in Africa through a transition from
one-party systems to multi-party systems. In many countries,
one-party rule was abolished from the constitution; several
political parties emerged and pluralistic elections were
organized; democratic institutions were established, for
example, new and more representative parliaments, independent
legal institutions, as well as responsible and accountable
executive bodies.

The transition process, still ongoing in some countries,
included negotiations between different political interest
groups, with or without a demonstration of their respective
strengths (street demonstrations, civil disobedience, armed
repression, terror created by death squads or armed rebel
fighting, etc.). In certain cases, after an agreement,
transitional institutions were set up, a constitution was
drafted, enacted, and finally, pluralistic elections were
organized in more or less free and transparent conditions, and
their results were either accepted or rejected by those


Pluralistic elections are an important element of a formal
democratization process.  Between 1991 and 1996, such
elections were organized in more than forty African countries.
There were several cases of free and transparent elections
which led to political transitions, especially in Benin (1991
and 1996), Zambia (1991), Mali (1992), Madagascar (1993),
Burundi (1993), South Africa (1994), Malawi (1995), Mozambique
(1995), and Sierra Leone (1996).  However, many were not
conducted under acceptable conditions if we consider the rate
of abstention, which was often very high (over 50% of
registered voters in Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Kenya, and
Togo; about 40% in Cameroon and Congo), or the successful
attempts at massive election fraud to maintain incumbent
leaders in power. For example, after a seven-year transition
process, the last elections in Nigeria were annulled in 1993
even before the results were released.

Despite these imperfections, pluralistic elections enable
citizens to choose between individuals and parties who claim
to be different, and make it possible to settle differences
peacefully. This universal democratic tool is also valid for

2. Redefinition and massive mobilization of civil society

The second phenomenon which characterizes the period under
review is the emergence, redefinition, restructuring and
massive mobilization of civil society. The short-lived freedom
which resulted from the social movements which swept through
several African countries made it possible to redefine the
very concept of civil society and increased its legitimacy
through the many conferences, meetings and publications which
ensued in a dramatic way. As regards the theory and practice
of development in Africa, practitioners have evolved from the
concept of popular participation to that of a lively,
energetic and structured civil society which can challenge the
power of the state as the main garantor of sustainable
democratic development.


3.  An increasingly organized mobilization of Africans living
abroad to promote democracy and human rights.

Many Africans living outside Africa came out of the shadows -
a striking phenomenon.  This organized African diaspora has
become more and more essential for international agencies,
foreign governments and non-governmental organizations intent
on helping Africa.  Their involvement is likely to produce
fruitful and mutually beneficial dialogue.  Several
non-governmental development organizations recently changed
their policies to include members of this diaspora more and
more directly in their staff or on their boards of directors.
However, both sides still have a lot of work to do in the host
countries. We must not neglect the unused human resource and
knowledge potential of the African diaspora in our efforts to
achieve development objectives in Africa.

4. Contribution of the United Nations.

...The genocide in Rwanda and the inadequate response of the
Security Council, the UN bureaucracy and UNIMIR to this
political and human tragedy must be mentioned here because it
was one of the worst yet predictable contemporary human rights
catastrophes. African civil society should be involved in the
ongoing debate about reforming the UNO because of the
increasingly important role that this international
organization and its affiliated agencies play in Africa. This
reform should be implemented quickly in order to avoid such
catastrophes in the future and so that the UNO will be less
dependent on the wishes of member states and more at the
service of societies.

5. Contribution of the Organization of African Unity

For a long time the OAU was perceived as a "union of Heads of
State and Government", i.e. a very conservative body with
regard to the interests and aspirations of African citizens in
the areas of democracy and human rights, since the heads of
state were primarily responsible for human rights violations.
Until very recently, this perception was largely justified and
deserved because the Heads of State and Governments were
unwilling to respect the provisions of the African Charter of
Human and People's Rights, and they failed to ensure the
efficient running of the African Commission which they
themselves created. Consequently, the formal democratization
of Africa and the increased affirmation of human rights in
public statements and in practice in African societies was
accomplished in spite of the OAU rather than thanks to the
OAU. South Africa's adhesion to the OAU after the end of the
apartheid system and the emergence of many more legitimate
Heads of State and Government gradually led to a change in the
organizations' discourse and political will on these issues.
But there is still a lot to be done.  A debate on reforming
the OAU should be put on the agenda, and African civil society
should be encouraged to participate in the work of the OAU and
in the monitoring of its activities. This would make the
Organization more accountable to African societies.


International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic
Development, 63, rue des Bresoles Montreal, Quebec, Canada
H2Y 1V7 Tel: (514) 283-6073 Fax: (514)283-3792 E-mail:

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the
Africa Policy Information Center (APIC), the educational
affiliate of the Washington Office on Africa. APIC's primary
objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States
around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by
concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant
information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and


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