Sub-Saharan Africa Workshop: Non-governmental process for the Community of Democracies
Political transition and challenges for democratic consolidation in Africa

Background

The Community of Democracies is a coalition of democratic governments which aim to strengthen democratic values and institutions at national, regional and global levels. The coalition began in 2000, with the first ministerial meeting convened in Poland by the governments of Chile, the Czech Republic, India, Mali, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea and the United States of America. On that occasion, a civil society counterpart held a parallel meeting, as a first effort to include non-governmental actors in this process.

A second ministerial meeting was held in November 2002 in Seoul, South Korea, at which the participating governments agreed on a Plan of Action. At this time, the non-governmental meeting, Global Solidarity for the Expansion and Strengthening of Democracy convened 256 people from 75 countries to prepare a declaration for the strengthening of democracy.

The next ministerial meeting of the Community of Democracies will be held in Santiago, Chile, in early 2005, and in order to broaden the scope of participants in this process, a group of civil society actors in Chile have created an Executive Secretariat to organize a non-governmental preparatory process, aimed at discussing democracy-related problems and creating proposals for the official conference in 2005. The Executive Secretariat is hosted at PARTICIPA, a Chilean NGO that participated in the International Committee of the non-governmental forum in Seoul in 2002. Global partnership is being composed by regional partners within the following regions

  • Asia
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Middle East and North Africa
  • North America
  • Western, Central and Eastern Europe
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Russia, Balkans and New Independent States.

EISA, International IDEA, and the Executive Secretariat of the Non-Governmental Process for the Community of Democracies (hosted by PARTICIPA in Santiago, Chile), are co-organising the African Regional Workshop. The aim of the workshop is to facilitate a discussion with a broad group of actors in Sub-Saharan Africa on the main democratic deficits in the region, and to provide concrete proposals to be presented at the next Ministerial meeting in Santiago (2005). It will be a great achievement for the Community of Democracies if this process should provide governments, international and regional organizations, civil society, and the donor community with a high-level, concerted analysis of democratic deficits and proposals on how to address the deficits in Africa.

Objectives

  • Evaluate main challenges to democratic governance and development based on the deficits in Africa
  • Permit the development of a substantive dialogue among NGOs, political parties, political foundations and think tanks to promote a mutual understanding for collaborative work on democracy building
  • Raise proposals related to the strengthening of democracy to be presented to governments of the Community of Democracies at the Santiago Ministerial Meeting
  • Plan and coordinate agendas and subsequent strategies.

Scope of the Workshop

This workshop will bring together 35 participants across different African countries in Johannesburg, South Africa on 22 and 23 November. The workshop is set against the first coordinating meeting of non-governmental process for the Community of Democracies, which took place at the Institute for Political Studies, Catholic University of Portugal, Lisbon from 19 - 21 January 2004.

The democratic deficits identified by the Sub-Saharan African regional group present at the Lisbon meeting in January 2004 include

  • party system and political parties in Africa - strengthen political parties, education, internal democracy and integration of civil society;
  • electoral systems reform and lack of credible electoral processes;
  • governance - lack of accountability, transparency and corruption;
  • security - lack of civilian control over the military and the challenge conflict poses to democracies in the region.

The Sub-Saharan Africa regional workshop aims to promote ongoing continental and international networking initiatives between groups and individuals within civil society in order to share information and best practices around democratic deficits among countries. This would be achieved through a detailed analysis of the thematic deficit areas identified by regional groups present at the 2004 Lisbon meeting along the four main political and economic blocks in Sub-Saharan Africa. Each thematic area will assess the main democratic deficits; identify roles, responsibilities and possible actions between actors; and suggest proposals to be presented to the Governments at the Ministerial meeting in Santiago, 2005.