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AGOA Civil Society Network

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					                                   Terms of Reference

Background:
Civil Society has been defined in various ways over the years since the Greek philosophers
discussed the concept. However, the predominant view is that civil society represents
voluntary associations based on common interests. This is in contrast to government and the
business sector.

Under such a concept, civil society would include not only non-governmental organizations
representing the panoply of interests, but also labor union and even business associations,
since the latter are not or-profit organizations, but rather represent the interests of business as
members of society.

From 13-17 January in Mauritius, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Civil
Society Forum was convened to examine the role of civil society in the AGOA trade process.
By the end of the forum, participants from the United States, Mauritius, Couth Africa,
Nigeria, Kenya, Namibia, Mali, Congo-Kinsasha and Lesotho agreed that civil society
organizations (CSOs) have a vital role to play in the AGOA process and decided that there
should b a civil society network to ensure that civil society be involved in ensuring the
benefits of trade be more broadly accessible to African societies.

Mission:
The mission of the network will be to empower African people through their civil society
organizations, working with governments and businesses to fully take advantage of the
benefits of AGOA by utilizing civil society organizations to monitor eligibility and
compliance issues and to track the impact of AGOA trade on African nations. The
relationship between CSOs and the government and business sectors is intended to be
cooperative rather than adversarial.

Program Plan:
The forum participants selected The Foundation for Democracy in Africa of the United States
and the Mauritius Council of Social Service, the co-conveners of the forum, to constitute the
American and African arms of the network secretariat. Participants also agreed on 52
recommendations, which can broadly be distilled into the following areas of recommended
action:

1) Enhance the current AGOA trade process through US Government Action
2) Encourage African government reform to enable more effective participation in AGOA
3) Empower civil society organizations to provide technical and other assistance to
   governments and businesses in Africa and America on how to take advantage of AGOA
   benefits
4) Measure the benefits of trade on African societies and recommend steps to make such
   benefits more broadly accessible

Work Plan:
Establishment of membership in all 48 sub-Saharan African nations eligible for inclusion in
AGOA
Timeline: Ongoing from end of forum

Training of CSO members on AGOA elements, eligibility and compliance issues and trade-
related matters
Timeline: Beginning May 2003 and ongoing

Empowerment of CSO members to conduct research on trade and commerce in individual
countries, the regions of Africa and the continent as a whole
Timeline: Beginning in May 2003 and ongoing

Provision of technical assistance to governments and businesses, especially small and medium
enterprises
Timeline: Beginning in June 2003 and ongoing

Creation of an annual report on AGOA eligibility, compliance and trade and commercial
trends and rating of the impact of trade in individual countries
Timeline: Beginning in September 2003 and ongoing

				
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posted:10/12/2012
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