Civil Society leaders from across West Africa are currently in Accra (29 and 30 May 2013) in a planning meeting to organise an annual event for the region starting this year. Please join us in providing ideas and commentary.
The key objectives of the convening will be to develop a strategic approach towards realizing the ECOWAS Vision 2020 of transitioning from an ECOWAS of Nation States to one of peoples. Developing civil society strategies and action plan to reversing the political and security challenges linked to erosion of the democratic order facing the region. Creating an enabling environment for amplifying the voice of civil society, sharing ideas and programmes that work and improving networking. To achieve these objectives, the convening will be an annual affair jointly organised by the West African Civil Society Institute and the West African Civil Society Forum creating space and developing an agenda for action.
These objectives draw from a situational analysis of key challenges facing West African today. Many of our states are in crisis and are unable to guarantee the security of citizens. They cannot provide for the welfare of their people and social cohesion is crumbling at a time in which the state is losing control of the monopoly of the use of force. Cashing on the vacuum, new forces are emerging and accelerating the crisis. These include fundamentalist groups challenging the sovereignty of certain states through insurgency, narco-traffickers colluding with elements in power to take over certain states and political entrepreneurs promoting a crisis over citizenship that excludes part of the community. A lot of the crisis is fuelled by the abuse of the powers of incumbency by many political leaders engaged in mega corruption and seeking to imbue their rule with monarchical powers as they seek to handover their countries to their children. Civil society must therefore rise to create a path towards political renewal and the deepening of democracy.
The theme for the convening is THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN ADDRESSING NEW
CHALLENGES IN WEST AFRICA.
Civil society is itself facing serious internal challenges at this time as foreign funding has dropped drastically as development partners now provide resources mainly to their home country civil society groups and send them to West Africa mainly to provide foreign consultants. Meanwhile, we in civil society have been very slow in encouraging the deployment of local resources to support our engagement. The time has come for us to strategise on this fundamental issue.
The convening will be an opportunity to map out an agenda on the way forward.
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