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High-Level Dialogue Between ACP Non-State Actors (NSA) ACP States and the ACP on the ACP-EU Negotiations for a Post-Cotonou Treaty

COMMUNIQUE/DECLARATION
High-Level Dialogue Between ACP Non-State Actors (NSA) ACP States and the ACP on the ACP-EU Negotiations for a Post-Cotonou Treaty
Brussels, Belgium: 8th March 2019

1. The High-Level Dialogue between the African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) Group and the Non-State Actors in the ACP, was held in  Brussels, Belgium on 7th and 8th March 2019. The meeting participants were drawn from the Executive team of the Civil Society Forum, the Steering Committee of the ACP Non-State Actors (ANSA) and other NSA representatives invited by the Council of Ambassadors. It would be recalled that the ACP had convened meetings with Civil Society in the region which led to the formation of the ACP Civil Society Forum (CSF) since 2001. This Dialogue is the second ACP official engagement with the broader scope of Non-State Actors (NSA) since the first NSA actors meeting in October 2017.

2. ACP Non-State Actors (ANSA) and the ACP Civil Society Forum came under the umbrella comprising the Private Sector Organizations, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the media, Labour Unions, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), the Academia, etc., from various ACP Countries. The aim was to bolster and renew the commitment of Non-State Actors, who work together to deepen partnerships, and are committed to building on ACP UNITY to generate mutually beneficial outcomes on common intersected priorities.

3. The Dialogue which is the first formal interaction between the ACP and NSAs since the launch of the ACP-EU post-Cotonou negotiations in September 2018, benefited from technical presentations by the ACP Secretariat, the Committee of Ambassadors, and robust interactions and debate that deepened knowledge arising from the ACP-EU relations and implications for the economy and future, with emphasis on specific strategic priorities such as: Environmental Sustainability, climate change and sustainable management of natural resources, Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Development, and Security, human rights, and good governance.

At the end of the Dialogue, the following key resolutions were arrived at:
i. WE recognize the objective of a new Agreement that consists of a Foundation and three regional partnerships; yet we stand UNITED as Non-State Actors of ACP and agree to work together towards a common agenda.
ii. WE commend the ACP Secretariat for initiating and organizing the meeting especially at such a time in the history of ACP-EU cooperation and post-Cotonou Agreement relationship. We want to reemphasize the commitment of ANSA towards advancing sustainable and inclusive development andimplementation of the post-Cotonou and UN Sustainable Development Agendas.
iii. WE welcome the ACP Negotiating Mandate for a Post-Cotonou Partnership Agreement with the European Union, which was adopted on 30 May 2018 by the 107th Session of the ACP Council of Ministers held in Lome, Togo. The Dialogue recognizes the importance of utilizing existing priorities such as those agreed under the negotiating directives for a Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Its Member States of the one part, and with countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, of the other part.
iv. WE commend the ACP and EU negotiators for the progress made to date, and encourage them to ensure that the future ACP-EU relations reflect and respond to global challenges, and address the regional specificities and priorities of ACP people at large. To this end, we urge that the priorities articulated by the Pacific ACP region which underscored the need for a genuine and durable partnership founded on the principles of mutual respect and cooperation, should be taken into account in the negotiations.
v. WE collectively highlight the need to further strengthen the long-standing relationship between the ACP and the NSA's, through a partnership underpinned by Article IV and Article VI of the current Cotonou Partnership Agreement. In addition, common areas of strategic interest focused not only on civil rights and political movement but also on economic development and capacity building.
vi. WE specifically request an institutional provision and adequate and predictable funding in the new partnership beyond 2020, focusing on sustainable capacity building support for civil society and private sector engagement. We underscore the resilience and commitment of the ACP Secretariat towards ensuring the ACP Non-State Actors are given a rightful place, but officially request a visible position to participate in the Operational Committee that will be set up by the Ministerial Council as a key Actor to enhance coherence and implementation on the reformed institutional architecture to govern Post-Cotonou agreement.
vii. Having examined the contents, technical details, status and outcomes of the post-Cotonou Agreement negotiations so far, WE further commend and express confidence in the ACP negotiators for keeping faith with pro-poor and development-oriented focus that takes into account the state of the ACP region and her populations in the negotiations. We note with delight that the ACP negotiators have learnt lessons from the previous Agreements and their implementation outcomes which had lopsided results tilted against the ACP States.
In order to further strengthen and deepen the gains of the negotiations so far, WE canvass the following positions and recommendations:


a. WE Commend the ‘single undertaking’ approach and the insistence on changing the ‘Donor- Recipient’ approach taken by the ACP negotiators; nonetheless, taking into account the varying development status and imbalance in economic weights between the two parties (ACP and the EU) in the negotiations, WE urge the negotiators not to lose sight of the consideration of Special and Differential Treatment provisions that would give adequate protection to the citizens of the ACP.
b. WE are satisfied with the positions taken by the ACP negotiators on thematic issues such as political dialogue, Democracy and Human Rights principles, Peace and Security, Access to Productive Resources, Policy Coherence, and Migration; nonetheless, WE further urge them to remain focused to insist on: (i) mutual dialogue that considers the plight of the ACP citizens,
(ii) the importance of value chain development approach to agriculture and the protection of extractives and other raw materials from ACP countries, (iii) resistance to the unilateral imposition of sanctions and or the use of divide and rule approaches (as supported by Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement), (iv) emphasis on practical integration of economic and social rights as integral part of human rights as encapsulated in the UNDHR and other International Instruments, (v) the capacitation of NSAs working on ECOSOC Rights in order to facilitate the empowerment of the ACP population and the reduction of poverty in accordance with the  ustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and (vi) the mutual removal or relaxation of visa restrictions among ACP and ACP-EU, for business actors and tourism to encourage trade, Foreign and local Direct Investment and investment protection.
c. WE note with dissatisfaction that ACP Non-State Actors were recognized only on paper during the lifespan of the Cotonou Agreement till date, despite the clear provisions of Articles IV and VI of the Cotonou Agreement that accorded full recognition as partners. To this end, WE call on the ACP Secretariat and Negotiators to accord full and practical recognition to the ACP NSAs in the post-Cotonou era by ensuring the institutionalization and creation of adequate structure and funding to facilitate the operationalization of activities of ACP NSAs (like their counterparts in the European Union) in preparation for the effective participation in the implementation and monitoring of the post-Cotonou Agreement.
d. WE further call on the ACP Secretariat, the Committee of Ambassadors and other relevant Institutions of the ACP to consider the selection of 2 representatives of the Non-State Actors (each from Private sector and Civil Society) with requisite knowledge and experience to be part of the ACP post-Cotonou Negotiating Team in order to give full expression to the provisions of Article IV and VI of the Cotonou Agreement. WE also call for the inclusion of the NSA representatives in the negotiation process for the regional protocols. This would further strengthen the ACP NSAs capacity but also facilitate and deepen the integration of and benefit from practical field experiences, especially from the private sector and civil society perspectives.
e. WE note the plan of the EU to replace the EDF with Neighbourhood and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) as a funding mechanism. We however caution that the NDICI should be an improvement on the EDF, in terms of its funding and focus. We call for the
consideration of the development effectiveness principles, appropriation, managing for development results, mutual accountability and partnerships in all of the development cooperation instruments of the post-Cotonou.
f. WE call for the consideration of the following in the technical issues of the post Cotonou Agreement negotiations, namely: (i) the need for provision of more responsive development finance for the benefit of SMEs, especially given that majority of the ACP private sector operators are within the SME bracket, (ii) effective development of trade infrastructure such as transport - road, rail and air, telecommunications and innovative technologies, etc. to aid rural development, (iii) the reduction of importation of finished products in order to facilitate jobs in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, encouraging ACP industrialization, (iv) the avoidance of conflicting commitments particularly in the areas of scope and schedule of trade liberalization and commitment to new issues such as e-commerce, etc. and (v) the imperative of discussing Mode 4 of Services in order to achieve the nexus between trade and migration to benefit the ACP youthful population.
g. WE recognize the diversity of membership and shades of operation of Non-State Actors (namely; civil society organizations, NGOs, Labour Unions, Private Sector, Media, Academia and CBOs, etc), and the need to guarantee inclusive process and popularization of information among the citizens, WE call on all members of the ANSA privileged to attend/participate in the Brussels meeting to ensure proper and effective dissemination of the report/outcomes of the meeting to other Non-State Actors at regional, National and local levels.
h. WE urge the ACP to consider securing a sustainable funding window (5-year development funding) for Non-State Actors to activate Social Investment Programmes targeted at startup/youth employment facilities that jump-start capacity building, entrepreneurship growth and value chain development among actors in Member States. WE further commit to engaging amongst the ACP private sector to develop sustainable reinvestment into our ACP in the forementioned programmes through innovative solutions such as Indigenous Legacy Foundations.
viii. Delegates at the Dialogue expressed appreciation to the Secretary-General of the ACP – HE Dr Patrick Gomes, ASG Leonard-Emile Ognimba and all staff of the ACP Secretariat, as well as the Committee of Ambassadors for approving and facilitating the platform for ACP Non-State Actors to meet. Finally, given the value of these dialogues, we appeal for more formalized, regular meetings.
ix. On this International Women’s day, Delegates felicitate with and congratulate women across the ACP and EU.

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