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Forum of the Regional and Sub-Regional African Organisations in support of cooperation between UNESCO and NEPAD

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					Forum of the Regional and Sub-Regional African Organisations in support of cooperation between UNESCO and NEPAD (FOSRASUN)
UNESCO Paris 13 September 2004

Communiqué
1. On the invitation of the Director-General of UNESCO Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, the Forum (FOSRASUN) composed of the regional and sub regional economic communities (RECs), the African Union Commission, the Secretariat of NEPAD and of UNESCO, met on13 September 2004 at the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris. 2. Participating in the inaugural meeting of FOSRASUN were the representatives of the following organisations: the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Economic Community of Central African Countries (ECCAS ), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) as well as the African Union, the NEPAD Secretariat and the representatives of the Permanent Delegations of Member states accredited to UNESCO. The British Commission for Africa and the African Centre for Applied Research and Training in Social Development (ACARTSOD) also participated as observers. 3. Apart from the representatives of the programme sectors of the UNESCO Secretariat at Headquarters, the Bureau for Field Coordination (BFC) and the representatives of cluster and national offices in Abuja, Accra, Bamako, Brazzaville, Dakar, Harare, Kinshasa, Rabat and Yaoundé also participated. 4. FOSRASUN has been conceived as a tool of cooperation between the RECs, African Union/NEPAD and UNESCO, meant to facilitate consultation, dialogue and the exchange of views and experiences at the regional and sub regional levels in order to identify the best approaches to promoting human resource capacity around common points of interest that favour regional integration. This should be achieved through the identification and implementation of concrete projects by the RECs and UNESCO. In this context special focus should be given to UNESCO’s fields of competence, mainly education, training, science, communication, preservation of tangible and intangible heritage and a culture of peace by promoting democratic principles, tolerance and human rights. 5. The plenary session was marked by the intervention by the President of the General Conference, the President of the Executive Board, the Director General of UNESCO followed by messages from the Commissioner for Human Resources 1

of the African Union representing President Alpha Oumar Konare’ and by Executive Directors of RECs. In their messages, Executive Directors of RECs or their representatives welcomed the Director General’s initiative to create FOSRASUN. They stressed the common vision shared by their Organizations and UNESCO in reinforcing regional integration which should now be converted into joint action in a spirit of consultation and synergy. In this regard, in order to facilitate cooperation between UNESCO and RECs each Organisation should designate focal points. UNESCO will facilitate the work of the focal points by giving them to become familiar with the programmes and procedures of the Organisation. 6. The Director General, in his opening speech during the plenary meeting preceding the debate on the theme: “The Challenges of Regional Integration in Africa: What Cooperation Strategy in UNESCO’s fields of Competence?” reaffirmed the Organisations commitment to African Development. He said, “since November 2001, UNESCO has been resolutely engaged, in line and with the strong support of its governing organs, in a number of activities in support of NEPAD”. He recalled that UNESCO has been “the first international organisation to re-adjust its programme, notably by adopting a medium Term Strategy for Africa 2002 – 2007”. 7. With a view to reinforcing regional integration, encouragement was given to the search for better correspondence between the geographic coverage of the RECs and UNESCO’s field offices making for improved effectiveness of the cooperation between them. 8. Regional integration which implies joint activities in UNESCO’s fields of competence should follow a global and integrated approach towards poverty reduction and sustainable development. 9. The participants commend the support that the Director General of UNESCO is providing to the African Union Commission for the adoption by Ministers of National Education, of the NEPAD Plan of Action for Education, as well as the support given to the Commission for the finalisation of the African Cultural Charter by Ministers of Culture - both documents to be examined by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Africa Union (Khartoum July 2005). The RECs expressed their determination to be strongly associated with these initiatives. 10. In the field of education, participants commended the new impetus that the UNESCO Director General wishes to promote through implementation of three key priorities for achieving EFA goals: Preventive Education against HIV/AIDS, Teacher Training and Adult Literacy. In focusing on the integrative role of the RECs and of their programmes, the following priority thrusts of cooperation were highlighted: • Creation and strengthening of poles of excellence and centres of specialisation which have the advantage, on the one hand, of promoting and optimising 2

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human and financial resources and on the other hand, allowing for increased solidarity among countries of the same sub-region The development of common strategies with a view to progressively harmonising educational systems and production of common pedagogic materials. This objective should lead to joint activities among the RECs and UNESCO The promotion of common teaching modules should be encouraged, notably for HIV/AIDS prevention and for the diffusion of a culture of dialogue and peace The use of information technologies should facilitate exchanges of experiences, networking of knowledge and expertise, and the promotion of distance education Sub-regional adult literacy programmes, particularly targeted at women and girls, should be developed.

11. Concerning Culture the participants convinced that intercultural dialogue is a key element for the construction of a culture of integration, based on the principle of concrete universalism, stressed the following points: • It is recommended that the role and place of culture - recognised as being the fourth pillar of development at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg September 2002) – should be taken into account in every policy for sustainable development in culture and beyond. This should be done in light of the objectives of the International Convention on protection and promotion of cultural diversity. Encourage elaboration and implementation of innovative sub-regional cultural policies and programmes jointly developed by states, the private sector and civil society, with the support of the African Observatory of Cultural Policies, taking into account in particular: the need to reinforce the capacity of sub-regional training institutions for cultural managers and secondly, to stimulate the development of cultural industries and cultural tourism particularly concerning the sites of memory of the Slave Trade, and improved linkages between tangible and intangible heritage sites, in the light of the International Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible heritage. The new innovative forms of partnership involving public, private sector and civil society for the promotion of indigenous capacity in African countries and their access to world markets of creation particularly through the UNESCO Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity In the field of the struggle against HIV/AIDS, education and prevention considered to be the only “protection” against the pandemic – should be adapted to the local cultural context. Gender equality, implemented though UNESCO’s multi-sectoral approach should also be encouraged.

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12. In the field of communication and information emphasis was given to the following: • The fundamental role of communication in bringing about behavioural change in the field of HIV/AIDS as well as in promoting pluralistic media, committed to the dissemination of messages regarding mutual tolerance and respect The importance of proximity communication based on community participation. In this regard, the development of community multi-media centres should be encouraged by favouring production of joint broadcasts particularly in boarder areas The necessity to create sub-regional centres for the production and diffusion of common programmes There is the urgent need to develop and build capacities for training media personnel for the furtherance of integration and cooperation in Africa.

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13. In the field of Science and Technology, the establishment of national and regional science policies should be encouraged and pursued and success stories of common interest should be highlighted and disseminated. Joint policies in shared areas should be promoted in order to protect biodiversity and natural resources, particularly water resources. Regional and sub-regional initiatives are on-going in order to define an action plan in this field. It is recommended that these subregional initiatives be linked with those being undertaken by UNESCO in support of the Science and Technology component of NEPAD. The desertification process as well as the invasion of grasshoppers, considered as a major natural disaster in Africa, should benefit from specific and permanent UNESCO/NEPAD support within the framework of the preservation of the environment and use of new technologies. In addition, hurricanes represent a major treat to island states and should be subject to the urgent attention of UNESCO and NEPAD. Regarding Social and Human Sciences, on going efforts to strengthen the theoretical as well as the practical linkage between social science research on the one hand and public policy on the other should be capitalised upon to promote regional integration. Within this framework, the proposed actions for cooperation are focussed around the facilitation of greater civil society engagement in the regional integration process though generation of new knowledge as well as comparative research on experiences of other regions. 14. The Forum drew attention to the question of conflict resolution and prevention seen as an obstacle to the regional integration process. In this connection a multisectoral approach should be encouraged. In this regard the RECs commit themselves to contributing to UNESCO’s effort to elaborate a post conflict strategy. All programme sectors of UNESCO should be mobilised in a coordinated way, for the return of peace in the African post-conflict countries, as well as to contribute to the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts through:

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Education for promoting citizenship, the respect for difference, acknowledgement of common history (making use of pedagogic instruments based on the General History of Africa), through production of common manuals and textbooks Communication through production of common broadcasts on shared values The preservation of natural, cultural and physical heritage and the mobilization of artists and other creative workers in favour of the reconciliation process The support for conflict prevention by reinforcing existing monitoring and early warning structures as well as through in-depth study on knowledge and understanding of cultural symbols Special attention should be paid to traumas endured by displaced populations and by refugees mainly programmes of reinsertion for excombatants and young victims of conflict particularly girls. These programmes of insertion should focus on peace and dialogue as well as the development of marketable skills. Finally, the experiences and resources of the UNESCO Programme of Education for Emergencies and Reconstruction (PEER) including its accumulated documentation and learning materials can be placed at the disposal of the RECs for easy adaptation.

15. The RECs and the African Union commit themselves to support UNESCO’s effort to facilitate member states’ ratification and implementation by national parliaments, of Conventions adopted by the Organisation in the field of protection of Cultural Heritage which is important for the African continent, and particularly the 2003 Convention for the protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The RECs request UNESCO to send to them information on Conventions not yet ratified in order to allow them to focus their advocacy actions. 16. The Forum has noted that UNESCO has already signed agreements with several RECs and that negotiations are ongoing to establish similar relations with others. The Forum calls upon UNESCO and RECs to facilitate the process of consultation leading to the signature of formal agreements in order to implement common programmes. 17. The SADC and COMESA have offered to jointly host the next meeting of FOSRASUN. 18. The Forum extends its thanks and congratulations to the UNESCO Director General and his collaborators for this welcomed initiative and for the support given by UNESCO to the African Development Effort. Adopted in Paris on 13th September 2004

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