The first Annual West Africa Civil Society Conference
The West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) in collaboration with the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), and with support from the Commonwealth Foundation, will organize the First Annual West Africa Civil Society Conference from December 8 – 9, 2014 in Accra, Ghana.
This conference will be organized under the theme: ‘Strategizing for the Post-2015 and ECOWAS 2020 Development Agenda for West Africa’.
A robust and engaged civil society is both a necessary condition for and a reflection of deepening democracy, a strong culture of active citizenship and sustained development. Civil society, particularly its organized sections have played pivotal roles in West Africa since the colonial periods.
Civil society in West Africa plays a key role in the proper functioning of the state. As actors within the civil society sector, we possess a wide range of knowledge, experience and expertise that could be of great benefit to states and other Institutions in Governance. By virtue our, multidimensional and non-rigid structure, we have the capability to adapt to rapid global changes, helping to initiate, promote and strengthen comprehensive and objective dialogue between governments and their people. In this way, civil society fosters conflict resolution, advances human rights and promotes better democratization processes.
Civil society has made significant contributions to the development gains we all enjoy across the West African sub-region. In Ghana for example, civil society played a key role in advocating for the passing of laws that protect the vulnerable in our society such as the Domestic Violence Bill, which was passed on 21st February 2007. In 2010, Liberia became only the fourth country in Africa, and the first in West Africa, to pass the right to information legislation. This process was shaped by the active engagement of a civil society coalition.
A strong West African civil society will contribute meaningfully to the successful design and implementation of development policies that will benefit all West Africans.
It is in recognition of this that WACSOF – the interface between civil society and ECOWAS and WACSI – a leading capacity development institute in West Africa; with the support of Commonwealth Foundation are organizing the 2014 Annual civil society Conference. The goal of this conference is to give development partners a unique and timely opportunity for Development Partners, Institutions in Governance and West African Civil Society to mutually craft strategies for a regional agenda on post-2015. It affords us an opportunity to interrogate our role in the implementation of ECOWAS Vision 2020 and agree on effective strategies to make it real and beneficial to the ordinary West African man, woman and child. This will enable us to continue to promote good governance as well as to strengthen our engagement with ECOWAS, other Institutions in Governance and Development Partners across West Africa. The convening will also serves as an opportunity to discuss the current interventions on the Ebola Virus Epidemic in West Africa and enable us to strategically improve our contribution towards eradicating this deadly disease from our region.
The specific objectives that we will work to achieve at this conference include;
- To institute an annual platform for CSO to discuss development issues;
- To review CSOs participation in post-2015 and devise strategies to influence ongoing discourses at the regional level;
- To discuss the strategies that civil society can use to effectively engage with ECOWAS and the vision 2020 through WACSOF;
- To highlight key capacity building areas to enable the effective engagement.
We are optimistic that our unified efforts as civil society organisations from 13 West African countries that will take part in this conference will enable us to better represent the views of West Africans in making relevant inputs to a development agenda that will serve our needs. Countries that will be represented at this meeting include Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Mali, The Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
We also believe that our continuous collaboration with the media will help us achieve more development gains across the region.
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