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UCLG Africa invites local and regional authorities to support OOAM’s advocacy for the ratification of the AU Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons

UCLG Africa joins the advocacy launched by the West African Migration Observatory for the ratification of the African Union Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons by AU Member States.  Freedom of movement is a right within the meaning of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and this right is essential for the development of our  territories at local level.

UCLG Africa invites the continent’s local authorities, through their national associations, to take this fight to national governments. Local governments have a key role to play in bringing this protocol to fruition.

Below is the content of the advocacy, highlighting 5 major arguments for successful mobilization.

The Protocol to the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community, concerning the free movement of persons, the right of residence and the right of establishment, was adopted at the 30th ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on January 29, 2018. Twenty-one (21) countries signed it on March 21, 2018, at the extraordinary summit of the African Union in Kigali (Rwanda). To enter into force, the protocol must be ratified by 15 member states of the African Union. This document is a line of argument elaborated by the West African Observatory on Migrations to convince the States about the benefits for Africa on the ratification of the protocol.

  • Argument of African Integration

The free movement of people on the African continent was one of the ambitions of the fathers of African independence who wanted to return to the freedom of movement that our ancestors had before colonization. Since the creation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963, subsequently with the establishment of the African Economic Community in 1991 and the African Union in 2002, African leaders have always emphasized the need to facilitate the mobility of Africans on their soil. The protocol on the free movement of people makes this dream come true. The ratification of the protocol on the free movement of persons by States is therefore an important step for the African Integration.

  • Humanist Argument

All men are born free and equal. But not all men are equal in the face of mobility. Depending on his nationality, an African citizen may be refused a visa or the right to travel to another African country. In addition, the administrative and financial requirements for visa applications create many obstacles that lead Africans to pay for expensive tickets at the last minute because the visa is issued late. According to the African Development Bank[1] , it is easier for an American tourist to travel in Africa than to an African businessman. The entry into force of the protocol will abolish once and for all the visa requirement for Africans who will thus be able to visit Africa more easily in order to discover its cultural wealth and to carry out fraternal exchanges between the populations.

  • Economic Argument

The launch of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in Africa is a historic opportunity to facilitate trade, tourism and industrialization on the continent. The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) estimates that the implementation of the CFTA could increase intra Africa trade by 52% by 2022[2]. However, the benefits of this free trade zone cannot be achieved if Africans cannot move freely on their continent to make known and sell their products. The creation of a single market for air transport in Africa is also an important step forward that is changing the future of the African continent. The abolition of the visa requirement for African citizens traveling on the continent will allow everyone to be able to pay his plane ticket safely to make his trip. This will lead to increased transport and trade between African countries. In view of the economic benefits, African states have an interest in ratifying the protocol on free movement in Africa.

  • Sovereignty and Security Argument

The African Union’s protocol on the free movement of people does not put an end to the borders of States or their sovereignty on their soil. African States will have, according to the texts of the protocol, the right to control and register the people who enter and leave their territory. The contribution of the protocol lies mainly in the facilitation it gives to the mobility of Africans on the continent by allowing them to travel without a visa. States may also, if the situation so requires, raise reasons of security, health or protection of their environment to restrict the entry into their territory of persons considered to be detrimental to the stability of their country. Ratification of the protocol should not pose a problem since it takes into account the security concerns of States. It is also important to know that the protocol allows states to put in place, in successive phases, the related commitments, starting with the free movement of persons before reaching the rights of residence and establishment.

  • Scientific Argument

Academic exchanges, recognition of diplomas and the qualifications of the workforce are taken into account by the protocol. Thus thanks to the free movement of people, there will be more mobility for studies, exchanges between researchers, offers of seasonal or temporary services of competent people in various spaces in Africa. The protocol is therefore beneficial for a better sharing of knowledge among Africans, to increase technological innovation as well as the number of interuniversity scientific research in Africa.

[1] Africa Visa Openness Report : https://www.visaopenness.org/

[2] https://www.uneca.org/publications/african-continental-free-trade-area-questions-answers

Visit the West African Migration Observatory  website.

Communiqué on the attacks on African migrants in South Africa

The media and social networks show unsustainable images of African migrants being attacked in South Africa under the pretext that they take the work away from nationals. It will be recalled that just before the general elections held in May 2019, such acts were also perpetrated, which provoked an outraged protest reaction from the African dean of the diplomatic corps to the Republic of South Africa. The regular recurrence of these acts of xenophobia in a country that has enjoyed an unprecedented outpouring of solidarity from other African countries in its liberation struggle continues to raise questions about the nature of the political and civic education provided by the authorities to their fellow citizens.

For its part, the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) denounces these acts, which do not honor the people who commit them and damage the image of South Africa and Africa as a whole. UCLG Africa recalls that the leaders of African local and regional governments meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, in December 2015 and in Marrakesh, Morocco, in November 2018, adopted a charter of African local and regional governments on migration which unambiguously condemns all acts of xenophobia, discrimination and injustice against migrants, and instead establishes local authorities as protectors of migrant populations whose welcome and integration into local communities is guaranteed by them.

UCLG Africa therefore calls on its members in South Africa to comply with the principles set out in the Charter of Local and Regional Governments of Africa on Migration and to act without delay to protect the rights of migrants living within their jurisdiction and bring to justice the perpetrators of acts of aggression against migrants solely because they are, to formally apologize to the individuals, families and communities affected by such acts, and to consider possible remedies and compensation for their benefit.

UCLG Africa is happy to see that SALGA has taken a clear stand against these abominable acts, showing the resolve of the South Africa Local Government Community not to tolerate these shameful behaviors.

UCLG Africa encourages SALGA and its members in South Africa to engage in immediate and in-depth historical and civic education work targeting residents of their constituencies in collaboration with civil society organisations to create conditions conducive to harmony between migrants and local communities and to living together in peace.

Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi,

Secretary General of UCLG Africa

 

Dowload the PDF here.

Read the charter of African local and regional governments on migration here.

Call for Adherence to the Charter of local and subnational governments of Africa on Migration

The issue of migration has become an issue of concern for both national States and the international community. Local and regional authorities are generally the starting point and destination for migration flows, and are therefore called upon to play a major role in migration management. It is for this reason that, as a prelude to the United Nations Conference held in December 2018 in Marrakech, which led to the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, the community of African local and regional authorities meeting on Migration Day held as part of the eighth edition of the Africities Summit in November 2018 in Marrakech adopted the Charter of local and subnational governments of Africa on Migration.

Read more here

Download the Membership Form here

Consult the Charter of the Territorial Communities of Africa on Migration here

The Truth About Migration

“Can Development Co-operation Provide Solutions” Between the 4th and 5th of February the European Commission hosted the 6th edition of the forum “Cities and Regions for Development Co-operation.” Cities and Regions from across the globe are at the heart of sustainable development and there are many lessons and practices that can be shared with peers to address some of the critical issues ranging from poverty and food security to gender equality and climate change. What is Development Co-operation? Often described as development assistance offered by one region to another, usually a developed one to a developing one, and is a broad description for international action between two cities or regions that can be about

-Financial Support – traditionally what we recognise as “Aid”

-Capacity Support– human or organisational capacity building, technical support and sharing policy experience.

-Policy Change – of which decentralisation is a major component.

The Forum addressed sustainable urban development through twinning, pairing and matchmaking of Local and Regional Authorities from EU and Partner countries which included Cities and Regions from Africa. The 2-Day event not only initiated discussion and debate on cooperation and development it also highlighted successful partnership initiatives including the Platforma Awards which aims to reward the best town-to-town and region-to-region development projects, promoting decentralised cooperation. The towns of Roeselare (Belgium) and Dogbo (Benin) received the first prize for their joint birth registration programme and after six years, Dogbo has become a reference in the field of civil registration in Benin, a country where more than 40% of births are not registered.

The Mayor of Dogbo, Vincent Codjo Akakpo spoke of the benefits of development co-operation and Cities and Regions across Africa are encouraged to explore the possibilities of such partnerships to drive sustainable development.

Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi Secretary General of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa lead a delegation from Africa to participate in a number of discussions on topics of interest including that of Migration.

As one of the hot topics between the EU and Africa UCLG Africa hosted a side event “Co-operate Around Migration” to provide a platform to interact and generate insights and recommendations directed to the European institutions on this important issue. Migration today is discussed as if it were a new phenomenon but this has been going on since the dawn of time from the “incredible human journey” when humans first ventured out of Africa some 60,000 years ago, and here we are talking about it in 2019 as if it were something new.

Read more …

Read the report of the Side Event.

Forum: Cities and Regions for Development Cooperation 2019: UCLG Africa will reflect on the theme: ‘Cooperate around Migration’

Brussels will host the forum: ‘Cities and Regions for Development Cooperation’ on February 4 – 5, 2019. Jointly organized by the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions, the Forum will bring together European institutions and Local and Regional Authorities from the EU and partner countries with the aim of strengthening policy dialogues between these bodies.

UCLG Africa will take an active part in the event with a delegation led by its secretary general, Mr Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi. On the first day, February 4th he will act as rapporteur for the open debate on partnerships for sustainable urban development. On the second day of the forum, February 5th, UCLG Africa In Partnership with The International Institute of Administrative Science (IISA) & the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA) will organize a side event on the theme, ‘Cooperate around Migration’.

Migration is one of the primary challenges facing African local authorities on a daily basis. During the 8th edition of the Africities Summit (November 20-24, 2018), African local authorities adopted the  Charter of Local and Subnational Governments of Africa on Migration where they agreed, on the one hand to, “enforce the rights of migrants in its locality, to facilitate their peaceful integration into hosting communities and to promote cohesion and conviviality between the hosting communities and the migrant populations,” and on the other hand, to draw the attention of National Governments to the fact that it is this ability to engage in free movement that stabilizes migratory flows and therefore request that National Governments facilitate the provision of legal entry and circulation visas to migrant populations in order to dry up the source of illegal and irregular migrations.

The main objective of the side event “Cooperate around Migration,” is to engage in dialogue about the content of the Charter and on strategies that can make migration a real opportunity for the different actors and stakeholders involved.

Specific objectives and expected results include to :

  • Situate the position and role of the regional and local governments in the global, African and European dialogue on migration;
  • Highlight the role and responsibilities of cities and territories in the management of migration flows and the reception of refugees and migrants, whether in countries of origin, transit or reception;
  • Identify and discuss good practices in governance and management of migration at the local level, including identifying the capacity building needs of local elected officials;
  • See to what extent partnership and decentralized cooperation can be strategic levers to change the perception of crisis migration to migration-opportunity;
  • Establish joint and concerted actions at territorial and local level to meet the needs of refugees and local populations and to meet international commitments;
  • Identify strategic areas to be pursued by European and African local and regional governments and articulate political dialogue with European authorities, particularly in the framework of the Post-Cotonou negotiation, which will include a fundamental chapter on migration.

Read the concept note of the side event. 

Register to participate

Visit the website of the Forum

Date and venue:
February 5, 2019, from 14:30 to 18:00. Venue: The Headquarters of the International Institute of Administrative Sciences (IIAS), Street “Rue du Commerce 96”, 1040, Brussels, Belgium, Room C121.

Contact persons:

Dr Najat Zarrouk, Director of the African Local Government Academy of UCLG Africa

Email : najat_zarrouk@yahoo.fr

Mobile : +212 (0)661 120 552

Ms Lova Ramilijaona, of ALGA

Email : lramilijaona@uclga.org

Mobile: +212 (0) 658 33 30 27

World Refugee Day calls to action

  • 20 June is World Refugee Day—how will you stand #WithRefugees today?
  • Sign the #WithRefugees petition.
  • Visit the #WithRefugees solidarity map to see the global actions for refugees!

As part of the coalition,  UCLG Africa is proud to support this campaign and encourages African Cities and territories to act and sign the solidarity statement.

Cities of Solidarity:

UNHCR’s #WithRefugees campaign is also inviting cities all over the world who are working to promote inclusion, support refugees and bring communities together, to sign a statement of solidarity #WithRefugees ahead of World Refugee Day 20 June.

Please see the statement and explanatory note here and complete the form at the end to submit your support.

The situation of Afro descendants and Afro Americans in the USA is of concern to the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent

During the Africities Summit Johannesburg 2015, the session “Associations of Migrants /Afro descendants”, recorded the participation of Mireille Fanon Mendès, France, expert and Chairperson of the Working Group of the United Nations on people of African descent. The Working Group undertook a visit to the USA in January and it shows that despite the positive efforts of the U.S. Government, the Afro descendants and Afro Americans still face important forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, Afrophobia and intolerance.

 

The experts of the Working Group of the United Nations on the Afro descendants conducted a 10 day visit in the United States (January 19-29, 2016), at the invitation of the U.S. Government. The visit, which is conducted, to the previous suite in 2010 was designed to assess the situation of African-Americans and people of African descent in the United States. Five cities were thus visited by the delegation: Washington D.C, Baltimore, Jackson (Mississippi), Chicago and New York.

In its statement to the media, the Working Group is pleased to have been able to meet with the local authorities of these five cities. They also met a hundred organizations representing civil society, lawyers and individuals from the African-American community who have expressed their concerns and recommendations to the group work.

The Working Group regrets that it did not receive access according to the terms of reference for special procedure mandate holders to visit Mississippi State Penitentiary Parchman. It also regrets that it was not possible to meet with all of the high level state and local level authorities requested. However, they managed to gather information on the forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, Afrophobia and intolerance facing African Americans and people of African descent in the country. The members of the Working Group indicate that they have “studied the official measures and mechanisms taken to prevent structural racial discrimination and protect victims of racism and hate crimes as well as responses to multiple forms of discrimination.

Among the recent measures taken by the American Government to reform the criminal justice system and combat discrimination and racial inequalities, the Working Group appreciates:

– The fair sentencing Act;

– The report and recommendations of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to strengthen community-police relationships across the country.

– The new Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Or Gender Identity

– The adoption by the Government of a executive order to reduce the use of solitary confinement at the federal level by prohibiting solitary confinement of juveniles, diverting inmates with serious mental illness to alternative forms of housing and establishing that inmates should be housed in the least restrictive setting, among other issues.

– The White House Initiatives such as My Brother’s Keeper and on Educational Excellence for African Americans, aimed at addressing opportunity gaps and improving educational outcomes for African Americans.

The Working Group of the United Nations on Afro Descendants welcomed the abolition of the death penalty in three additional States since its last visit in 2010. “This form of inhuman punishment is disproportionately used against African-Americans,” said the statement.

Experts appreciate the adoption of the law on health care that has helped 2.3 million adult Americans to acquire health insurance.

In New York, they welcomed measures that prohibit employers from asking about criminal history until an employee is hired, and that makes possible the issuance of municipal identification cards for undocumented immigrants.

In Chicago, the Group welcomes the measures taken to combat the crisis of repossessions that hit mostly African Americans and Hit the measures taken by the Mayor to promote the accountability of the police following the case Laquan Mc Donald (young Afro American aged 17 years, killed with 16 bullets by a white in October 2014 in Chicago. The video of the murder was broadcast in October 2015 and stirred up a wave of protest in the USA).

The efforts made by US government are not sufficient to reassure the working Group. Experts stay concerned by the situation of of African-Americans and human rights in the country

“Colonial history, the legacy of slavery, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge because there was no real commitment to repairs and, truth and reconciliation for the people of African descent,” according to the statement of experts.

 

During this visit, the experts heard testimonies of African Americans who declare that based on their experience “people of African descent are treated by the State as a dangerous criminal group and face a presumption of guilt rather than innocence”.

 

The expert’s reminders that the white supremacist terrorist groups are still active in the United States targeting the black community “as seen with the attack on the Church in Charleston in 2015. The Confederate flag is considered to be a symbol of hatred for many Americans and they led campaigns to remove, but it is still used by some local authorities.

 

The Working Group is concerned by the alarming levels of police brutality and excessive use of lethal force by the police committed with impunity. “Non-official sources, such as the Washington Post and The Guardian, have identified between 38 and 75 cases of African Americans unarmed killed by the police in 2015,” fills in the document.

The other main concerns of the Working Group revolve around:

  • -The maintenance of the death penalty in 31 States and at the federal level (African-Americans represent 41.7% of the population killed and 28 inmates executed in 2015, 10 were African Americans),
  • -The inadequacy of the conditions of detention and access to quality health care, including mental health the criminalization of poverty which affects disproportionately African-Americans,
  • -The continuation of minor children as adults (children are detained in jails and prisons exposes them to the risk of assault and sexual abuse of adults),
  • -The rate of unemployment among young African-Americans without high school diploma,
  • -That people of African descent continue to be underrepresented in high-level positions. In 2013, they accounted for only 7 per cent of employers in high level.

 

After hearing the testimony of the African-American communities in different parts of the country, the Working Group is concerned that the implementation of the laws on civil rights will not be effective enough to overcome and transform the structural racial discrimination against African-Americans. It therefore reiterates recommendations (35) made during its visit of 2010, to assist the United States of America in its efforts to combat all forms of racism, racial discrimination, Afrophobia, xenophobia and related intolerance.

It is among others of:

– Establishment of a national human rights commission, in accordance with the Paris Principles. The Government should establish within this body a specific division to monitor the human rights of African Americans.

– Urging the Government of the United States to consider the ratification of the core international human rights treaties to which the United States is still not a party, with a view to remove any gaps in the protection and full enjoyment of rights therein. It also encourages the USA to ratify regional human rights treaties as well as review reservations related to the treaties it has signed or ratified.

– There is a profound need to acknowledge that the transatlantic slave trade was a crime against humanity and among the major sources and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and that Africans and people of African descent were victims of these acts and continue to be victims of their consequences. Past injustices and crimes against African Americans need to be addressed with reparatory justice.

– The Working Group encourages the government to undertake impact-oriented activities in the framework of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024).

The complete recommendations and the preliminary statement of the working group are available here.

 

It should be noted that as a result of this preliminary statement, the conclusions and recommendations will be presented in the report of the Working Group mission to the Council of the human rights of the United Nations by September 2016.