Thursday, 28 May 2015
THE INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM TO LAUNCH THE AFRICAN INITIATIVE ON EDUCATION OF PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT THROUGH INTER RELIGIOUS AND INTER CULTURAL DIALOGUE
H.E. Mr. Yayi Boni, President of the Republic of Benin during the opening ceremony
Cotonou, Benin, 26 May 2015: The International Symposium to Launch the African Initiative on Education of Peace and Development through Inter Religious and Inter Cultural Dialogue was declared opened by H.E. Dr. Yayi Boni, President of the Republic of Benin in Cotonou on 16 May 2015.
The Assembly of Heads of State and Government, at its twenty-fourth (24th) Ordinary Session in January 2015, passed a decision for an African initiative for education on peace and development through inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue (Assembly/AU/19 (XXIV)) with the aim of instigating respect for others’ faith and restraint from any act of gratuitous provocation. It is also worth noting that the dialogue, particularly between Muslims and Christians among others, is being launched against the background of the resurgence of religious extremism in Africa.
H.E. Dr. Yayi Boni, President of Benin who welcomed all participants to Cotonou, Benin, called on religious leaders of all faiths to stand up to their responsibilities and implement the true messages of peace and reconciliation. He also reminded all participants of the secrecy of human souls. H.E. Dr. Yayi also reminded religious and community leaders to continue to dialogue in order to promote peace and development through tolerance.
H.E. Dr. Yayi Boni thanked the African Union Commission for its financial and technical contribution in organising the meeting, and called on participants to contribute their ideas and suggestions on how the African continent could move forward.
H.E. Commissioner for PA was represented at the Symposium by Dr. Mamadou Dia Head of DGHRE Division
H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission in a speech read on her behalf by Dr. Mamadou Dia, Head of DGHRE Division, Department of Political Affairs. She thanked the government and people of Benin for co-hosting the Dialogue.
The Chairperson of the AUC also indicated that the virtues and values of tolerance and solidarity are also enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and many other AU instruments which underscore respect for democratic principles, human rights, the rule of law and good governance. She said tolerance is an African Shared value, which requires a deeper exploration of the notion of religions in the African context and reminded leaders of the rich variety of religious beliefs that exist in the continent ranging from traditional religious belief systems to the monotheistic traditions such as Islam and Christianity and the range of syncretic beliefs that have emerged over time. In Africa, religion has achieved greater salience as a basis of identity and driver of social behaviour in all realms of society.
The Chairperson added that in our world today, religion has become a source of political, social and cultural upheavals, particularly in Africa. From the phenomenon of youth radicalization and terrorism to political movements, narratives pegged to religious identities have become the driving force behind major negative changes. Many conflicts in Africa have been misunderstood to be ‘religious conflicts’ or as the outcome of ‘radicalized religion’. However, I could loudly say that these so called ‘religious conflicts’ are not necessary about religion but in many cases are driven by deeper socio-political and socio-economic factors which are obscured by the ostensible religious identity of the parties to the conflict or where religious identity has functioned as the mobilizing device.
The Chairperson concluded by reminding participants that tolerance is necessary especially in preventing politics of polarization, at a time when stereotypes, ignorance and hatred threaten to tear the delicate fabric of increasingly diverse societies. She said tolerance provides part of the answer to challenges facing the world by building bridges between people and opening channels for communication
Wednesday, 27 May 2015
When we came to office in 2010, Britain was on the brink. Our task was urgent: to rescue our economy from the mire. With that economy now going in the right direction, we are once again on the brink - but this time, on the brink of something special. We have a golden opportunity to renew the idea that working people are backed in this country; to renew the promise to those least fortunate that they will have the opportunity for a brighter future; and to renew the ties that bind every part of our United Kingdom. We now have the mandate to deliver that renewal. And it starts with today's Queen's Speech: a clear programme for working people, social justice, and bringing our country together - put simply, a One Nation Queen's Speech from a One Nation Government.
The first task of a One Nation Government is to help all working people have security. And nothing is more crucial to that than a job. A new Bill will help to create two million more jobs this Parliament. That means there should be a job for everyone who wants one - in other words, full employment. To help people get those jobs, we'll train them up; three million more will start apprenticeships over the next five years. We will also reward work by letting people keep even more of the money they earn - for the first time putting it into law that the Minimum Wage is and always will be tax free. That will be alongside a five-year tax lock which means there will be no income tax, VAT or National Insurance rate rises in this Parliament.
The second big focus of this Queen's Speech is championing social justice. That starts with education: a decent schooling for every child, no matter where they're from. Our school reforms in the last Parliament were bold; one million more children are now learning in good or outstanding schools. In this Parliament they will be bolder still: taking over and turning into Academies not just failing schools but coasting ones too, as part of our new Education and Adoption Bill; opening not just a few more Free Schools, but 500 more. Of course, there is nothing that embodies the spirit of One Nation and the cause of social justice more than our NHS, which is there for everyone, whoever they are, regardless of their ability to pay. So we will continue increasing spending on our health service, by at least £8 billion a year by 2020, and make it a truly 7-day NHS.
We will also continue our welfare reforms that help people into jobs, reducing the benefit cap further, to £23,000. Our reforms will incentivise work - so people are always better off after a day at the office or factory than they would have been sitting at home. That's true social justice - not handing people benefit cheque after benefit cheque with no end in sight, but turning workless households into working households; the misery of unemployment into the purpose and dignity of employment; and the welfare system into a lifeline, not a way of life.
Third, this Queen's Speech will bring every part of our United Kingdom together. Our legislation will make sure this recovery reaches everyone, from the oldest industrial towns to the remotest rural villages. Our High Speed 2 Bill will help bring our great northern cities together in a Northern Powerhouse that rivals the biggest cities in the world.
For our different nations and regions to coexist as One Nation, people must have more direct power over the areas in which they live. So our Cities Devolution Bill will allow them to bid for an elected mayor, with far more sway over planning, transport, policing and health. We will have a Scotland Bill, a Wales Bill and a Northern Ireland Bill, and will put into practice our promises on devolution - making Holyrood the most powerful devolved Parliament in the world. Governing with respect means respecting the wishes of the English too. That's why we will address the fundamental unfairness devolution causes in England, by introducing English votes for English laws. And the UK will have more control over its affairs, as we bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act. We will also legislate to have an EU Referendum before the end of 2017, putting the question to the British people for the first time in 40 years: the European Union - in or out. Underpinning all of this is security. With an Extremism Bill, an Investigatory Powers Bill and a Policing and Criminal Justice Bill, we will keep our people safe.
That's our legislative programme. It's challenging but doable; optimistic but realistic. It's the bold first step of a One Nation Government - a Government for working people. And this is the Britain we're setting out to create: a Britain where you can get a decent job, have a good education, buy a home of your own, have dignity when you retire, and feel safe and secure throughout your life. In the last Parliament we laid the foundations for that; in this Parliament we will use them to build something special. We've now got the majority we need. With this Queen's Speech we're going to get on and do it - for every single person in this great nation.
So - if you haven't already - please join the Conservative Party today, and play your part in everything we'll achieve together in the next five years.
African Union holds Memorial Service for Migrant Victims
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 27th May 2015: “Member States must do more to make their countries attractive, safer and prosperous enough to discourage our future leaders of tomorrow from making these perilous journeys” emphasized the Commissioner for Social Affairs, H.E Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko during the migrant victims’ memorial service held at the African Union headquarters on 27th May 2015.
This event, organized by the African Union, brought under one roof African ambassadors and Embassies accredited to the AU, Partners, Local and International Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, students, religious leaders and Returned migrants.
In his remarks, the Commissioner expressed concern at the pattern in which young people are losing their lives through the hazardous journeys in search of better lives and order to support their families and underscored the need to find immediate and long-term solutions to prevent this kind of catastrophes.
“Despite the initiatives that the African Union is undertaking on the issue of human trafficking and irregular migration, we have to accept that the challenges still remain and more needs to be done. We need to make a conscious effort to address the root causes of these tragedies by building each other up honestly and sincerely. We all can promote the positives of migration and minimize its negatives in our bid to fast track African integration which the AU Vision and Pan Africanism seek to promote.” Dr Kaloko said.
The Commissioner highlighted that the event is not only to pay tribute and to honor the victims, but a time to reflect on where we have gone wrong and how we can all work on preventing such recurrent calamities in the future.
The Ethiopian Government Representative, Ambassador Wahade Belay echoed the Commissioners’ sentiments, acknowledging that indeed irregular migration is a major challenge noting well that this increasingly severe situation requires a comprehensive and universal response to address and eliminate the abuse, violence and exploitation experienced by migrants and stressing the urgency for not only national but global action. “We need to get durable and comprehensive approaches to this situation within the context of poverty eradication, creation of employment and sustainable development,” he said.
African Union Commission and partners, notably the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), International Labor Organization (ILO) and European Commission (EC) have been promoting the need for coordination on migration management, supporting Member States in strengthening responses to irregular migration and transnational organized crime, notably trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, and the protection of persons of concern.
The AU partners, present in the event, also reiterated the fact that the situation needs to be addressed by attacking the root causes, agreeing that the challenge is huge and needs international interventions. The partners reaffirmed their support and promised to continue working closely with the African Union to find a permanent solution to these vices.
The service ended with prayers and benediction from religious leaders.
Thursday, 21 May 2015
Fridays of the Commission: Debate stressed on a robust, fair and equitable agreement during the July 2015 Third Conference on Financing for Development
Addis Ababa, 19thMay 2015: The African Union Headquarters hosted on 19th May 2015, the Conference-debate of the “Fridays of the Commission “under the theme “Towards the Third International Conference on Financing for Development: Africa’s expectations”. The event organized by the Department of Economic Affairs of the African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with Oxfam International Liaison Office to the AU and the Directorate of Information and Communication of the AUC, brought together representatives of the African Union Commission, officials from UNECA and other United Nations Agencies in Addis Ababa, African Development Bank as well as members of the diplomatic corps in Ethiopia and the civil society. The session was chaired by Dr. Réné Kouassi N’guettia, Director of the Economic Affairs department of the AUC. The debate was aimed at highlighting Africa’s expectations in the framework of the Third International Conference on Financing Development (FfD3) that will take place in July in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as well as to allow the civil society to share its views on the FfD 3.
Dr. Kouassi commended all the participants for coming to this very critical event for the continent. He highlighted the fact that financing the development agenda of the continent is a very crucial issue as Africa needs to see its expectations taken into consideration in the outcomes of the Third Conference on Financing Development. He also underscores the necessity to go beyond the objectives set by the Monterey Conference in 2002 in order to integrate the African development views expressed in the Agenda 2063 as well as the African Common Position on the Post 2015 Agenda.
Mr. Desiré Assogbavi, Head of Oxfam International Liaison Office to the African Union underlined the fact that African citizens expect that the Addis Ababa Agreement will mobilize international action around specific initiatives focusing on education, health, small holder agriculture and nutrition, infrastructure, women empowerment, among other areas of development. “Decisions of the FfD 3 must be bold, visionary, and lead to transformative change if today we are to create a universal equitable and sustainable prosperity within planetary boundaries, and fulfill international human rights obligations for future generations.” He noted.
Meanwhile, the Permanent representative of the Republic of Benin to the African Union, H.E Naim Akibou, speaking on behalf the Least Developed Countries stressed on the inefficiency of the measures taken to address the Africa’s development challenges. “The Addis Ababa Conference therefore represents an opportunity for the world to demonstrate an acting solidarity and clear support of the international community to the least developed countries.”He underscored. H.E Naim Akibou urged the partners to consider the realities of those countries, which are mainly Africans, in the establishment of the new aid mechanism.
In the same vein, Mr. Charles Abugre, Commissioner at the Ghana National Development Planning Commission presented an Africa’s perspective on Financing Development. He pointed out the new world development context characterized by a new narrative and the need for a global economic system that would be of interest to all citizens. He called upon all the African countries to improve their ability to mobilize domestic resources for the transformation of their local economies. The establishment of a fair and just mechanism of debt will also be another requirement to ensure the efficiency of the decisions that will be taken during the FfD 3 Conference. In that regard, “Prioritization, flexibility and capacity support will be crucial”, he concluded.
Dr. Vanessa Inko-Dokubo, policy advisor on extractives industries at Oxfam International Liaison Office to the African Union, emphasized on the inclusiveness of the consultative process that will lead to the Addis Ababa Conference. She commended the engagement of the civil society groups for a fair agreement in July. According to the Oxfam Policy advisor, taxation should be at the center of the FfD 3 and measures should be taken so that it will become one of the main levers of domestic resource mobilization in Africa. Moreover, she reaffirmed the need to give the prominence to the funding of Climate Change and Women empowerment.
The Conference ended with an interactive session which gave the opportunity to the participants to raise several other issues, including the acceleration of the African Trade, the establishment of a clear continental industrial policy, the creation of an environment enabling investment, among others.
The” Fridays of the Commission” concept constitutes a series of conference debates on current, economic, political and cultural issues pertinent to the continent and which give the opportunities to different stakeholders to discuss on African developmental issues from an African perspective. The deliberations of this session will be captured in a Bulletin of the “Fridays of the Commission” and disseminated among the participants and a wide audience.
Sunday, 17 May 2015
United States Warns Against Violence in Burundi
May 15, 2015
The United States is alarmed by reports of retaliatory attacks in Burundi following the attempted unlawful seizure of power on May 13 and the growing risk of greater violence and atrocities. The United States urgently calls on President Nkurunziza to condemn and stop the use of violence by the police and the ruling party’s Imbonerakure youth militias against those who participated in protests against a third term. The United States strongly condemns all acts of violence and retribution against those who have participated in protests against a third term. Individuals who perpetrate or incite violence, or exact retribution against those who oppose a third term, should be held accountable.
The United States supports the rule of law and opposes attempts to seize power unlawfully. The United States also believes the Arusha Agreement that ended Burundi’s horrific civil war must remain the foundation for the country’s stability and post-war reconciliation. The decision by Burundian President Nkurunziza to disregard the Arusha Agreement to run for a third term also has created instability and violence.
The United States is taking steps to impose visa ineligibilities on those responsible for violence. We call on all other governments to do the same. The United States also stresses that, under U.S. law, we cannot provide military training or assistance to military units that commit gross violations of human rights. We support the recent decision by the African Union to delay the next deployment of Burundian troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and note that continued instability and violence in Burundi, and in particular the commission of human rights abuses by security forces, could jeopardize Burundi’s ability to continue to contribute to the AMISOM peacekeeping mission.
The United States fully supports the mediation efforts of UN Special Envoy Said Djinnit and the African Union envoys in Bujumbura, as well as the efforts of the East African Community, the African Union, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, aimed at bringing peace and stability to Burundi. We urge all stakeholders in Burundi to engage immediately and seriously in these mediation efforts.
The United States welcomes decisions by other donor partners to reduce or withdraw budget support and financial assistance to the Government of Burundi in response to the continuing instability and violence. We also appreciate the willingness of Tanzania, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to welcome the more than 100,000 Burundian refugees who have fled Burundi, and call on the Burundian government to remove roadblocks and other impediments that are preventing civilian populations from crossing into neighboring nations seeking safety.
We stand with the people of Burundi at this critical moment. We urgently call on the Burundian government to demonstrate, by its actions in the coming days, its commitment to a peaceful future for all the people of Burundi.