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African Union
Intergovernmental cooperation provides a multi-faceted approach for tackling regional and global issues. African multilateral institutions allow governments to work together on developing, unifying and improving livelihoods throughout the continent.

There are a variety of roles that these institutions can play: from increasing trade, improving infrastructure, peacekeeping, promoting good governance, developing technology, providing health and education. Intergovernmental cooperation can also serve a cultural role.

The challenges that Africa is facing at the moment are unique to the culture and political history of the continent.  African multilateral institutions can provide more endogenous solutions – ones that arise from within Africa by Africans.

The African Union (AU) is perhaps the biggest and most ambitious multilateral institutions in Africa. Founded in 2002 out of the previous Organization for African Unity, the AU aims to politically and socio-economically integrate Africa. The AU also promotes peace and stability and norms of good governance. Within the AU, The pan-African Parliament functions as a forum that allows delegates from each country to present key issues and bring back advice for heads of state.

There are several subdivisions and committees the AU oversees that focus on reducing poverty and sustainable development. For example, the New Economic Partnerships for African Development (NEPAD) uses funding from Western nations to improve economic and government institutions.

The African Union is also instrumental in promoting democratic processes. They utilize a unique volunteer Peer Review Mechanism, in which states that choose to participate agree to have their political processes evaluated by experts. The AU also send observers to cover all elections in African countries.

With the creation of the Peace and Security Council in 2004, the AU plays an increasingly important role in African security. Contrary to its predecessor, the African Union is able to intervene during conflicts. This can occur through authorizing peacekeeping missions or in cases of genocide and crimes against humanity through deploying military forces.

The AU intervention after the civil war in Sudan broke out was one the most rapid and influential responses from the international community and helped create peace through a self-determination referendum after South Sudan seceded. In Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire, the AU successfully resolved post-election violence. In Somalia, the sizeable AU peacekeeping mission used a comprehensive strategy to decrease the effects of the terrorist group Al-Shabaab and stabilize the country.

As the largest economic organization on the continent, the African Economic Community is another influential African multilateral institution. It consists of all African countries that have formed eight smaller blocs based on geographical proximity: Economic Community of West African States, East African Community, Economic Community of Central African States, Southern African Development Community, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, Community of Sahel-Saharan States, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and Arab Maghreb Union.

These regional organizations help integrate Africa’s economy and facilitate trade. The East African Community, for example, is the most integrated of these trade blocs, with free trade and plans for a common currency. The Economic Community of West African States does not only serve as a trade bloc but also engages in peacekeeping activities and has a formal judicial arm that aims to prevent human rights violations.

Together, these African multilateral institutions tackle the difficult challenges in development that the continent faces, from various angles and with multiple approaches.

– Liesl Hostetter
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Development

From Sept. 4 to 5, heads of state and government from nineteen countries and the European Union will gather in Hangzhou, China for the 11th G20 summit. The theme of this year’s conference is “Towards an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy”, a motto which many officials and experts find encouraging.

In an interview with the Xinhua News Agency, China’s state-owned media outlet, Atsushi Sunami, the vice president of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo, explained that the G20 summit could forge consensus on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Adopted by the U.N. last fall, the 2030 Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aims to end poverty and hunger by the end of the third decade in the 21st century.

Sunami also called on countries to work together and build innovation across borders. The conference in Hangzhou, in his view, could jump-start the dialogue on open innovation and inclusive development.

Also speaking with Xinhua, Peter Thompson, who will be the president of the upcoming 71st Session of the U.N. General Assembly, voiced his support for the summit’s theme as well as the U.N.’s desire to work with the G20 organizers. “We will certainly be doing our part here at the United Nations in terms of the G20 outcome to make sure it’s built into the international implementation plans,” he said.

Likewise, Daniel Funes de Rioja, President of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), expressed his hope that the G20 summit will be a step in the direction of inclusive development. “Prosperity requires growth, investment, technology and innovation, with employment and social coverage for all,” according to de Rioja.

Indeed, while the G20 is primarily a forum for leaders of the developed world, developing countries are also starting to make their voices heard.

Senegal, which will be present at the summit in Hangzhou, sees the G20 as a platform to call attention to African issues as well as an opportunity to explore solutions. Alioune Sarr, the country’s commerce minister, told China Central Television (CCTV) that the conference will highlight the necessity of poverty eradication and inclusive development on the continent.

The G20 has consistently underscored the importance of international cooperation when it comes to solving the world’s problems, and the renewed emphasis on inclusive development and shared prosperity is certainly a welcome change.

Philip Katz

Photo: Flickr

SDGs
According to a study conducted by Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German foundation that researches and advocates social responsibility, the United States is ranked among the countries least likely to complete the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs aimed at ending poverty and combating climate change by 2030.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a set of 17 goals that were conceived at the 2012 U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the goals will replace the Millennium Development Goals in January 2016 and are based on six elements: dignity, people, prosperity, our planet, justice and partnership.

“The MDGs were about resource transfer from rich countries. The SDGs are universal—they’re supposed to apply to all countries and try to overcome the ‘West lecturing the rest’ dynamic,” said Sarah Hearn, associate director and senior fellow at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation.

While the U.S. struggles to meet SDGs, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland have the best chances of completing the goals. The countries with the lowest rankings are the U.S., Greece, Chile, Hungary, Turkey and Mexico.

Even though the U.S. has a high GDP, clean air and abundant housing, the country struggles with income inequality, over-consumption and environmental protection.

“We in the rich nations, with our growing social inequality and wasteful use of resources, can no longer present ourselves as the world’s teachers,” said Aart de Geus, Bertelsmann Stiftung chairman. “Rather, the analysis shows us where we, too, have to do our homework.”

During his visit to the U.S., Pope Francis addressed Congress and the U.N. Council, discussing the urgency of eradicating world poverty and climate change and how a solution cannot wait for future generations.

President Barack Obama, whose plans for a climate change bill were denied by Congress early in his presidency, agrees with the pope and his efforts to make the U.S. more involved.

“Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet — God’s magnificent gift to us. We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations,” said President Obama.

Alexandra Korman

Sources: ABC News, Council on Foreign Relations, Huffington Post, The Daily Star
Photo: Turner

GUBA Wins International Corporate Social Responsibility Award
The International Corporate Social Responsibility Excellence Award has been given to the Ghana UK Based Achievement Awards, otherwise known as GUBA. The International Corporate Social Responsibility Excellence Awards, according to the website, are given to ‘companies that care.’

This year marked the first ever award ceremony, and the high turnout marked it an incredible success. The awards were presented on July 28, aboard the HMS Belfast on the Thames River, located in Southern England. The awards were given in various categories: community, CSR programme, education, environment, sustainability, volunteering, and more. The Ghana UK Based Achievement Awards won the ‘international category.’ Other winners under the international category included Sustainable Technologies SL and Mission Hills China.

Mission Hills China is a resort complex that includes amenities such as a hotel, spa facility, and a golf course, and is listed as a ‘fully integrated resort complex.’ Mission Hills China promotes well-being and hosts holiday retreats. Sustainable Technologies SL is an organization that aims to create renewable energy. It also has components of research, development, energy management, environmental protection, and waste water treatment.  Both of these companies were sufficient enough to receive the International Corporate Social Responsibility Excellence Award for the ‘international category,’ which indicates that both companies are highly ranked in regards to corporate social responsibility. They care about their customers as well as the environment and the community – not just the bottom line of profit.

To find the winners of the International Corporate Social Responsibility Excellence Awards, Britain launched a national campaign to find the leading companies in Britain that care not only for their companies but also for the surrounding community. The Ghana UK Based Achievement Awards won over more than 100 other nominees, and was deemed one of the most socially conscious organizations. The Ghana UK Based Achievement Awards began in 2010 and is a yearly ceremony that is incredibly prestigious. The awards are given to the British Ghanaian community to celebrate the services in the UK and Ghana provided for Ghanaians. The Ghana UK Based Achievement Awards are part of a nonprofit organization within the community of Ghanaians; proceeds of the awards are given to charitable organizations. The Ghana High Commission to the UK and Ireland supports the organization. It raises the profile of Ghana and creates better cultural diversity within the UK.

An example of the Ghana UK Based Achievement Awards is Armajaro Trading, which won the award for Best Corporate Business. Other categories include Best Professional, Best Creative Writer, and Best Charity Organization. The Ghana UK Based Achievement Awards won the award for the International CSR Excellence Award, and it will also be published in the Global Guide to CSR Best Practice, due to its international work and ability to fulfill its social responsibilities. Dentaa, the chief executive officer of the GUBA Awards, commented that GUBA wishes to create growth in the African community in the business, education, sports, and entertainment sectors.

Overall, the achievement of this award allows the fairly new organization to gain awareness and prestige. One GUBA’s focuses is to raise awareness about autism, and receiving this award gives them the perfect platform to do so. The GUBA organization has shown its commitment to communities, and perhaps will inspire other British-based organizations, or any international organizations, to care more about their communities and their corporate social responsibilities.

Corina Balsamo

Sources: VIBE Ghana , GUBA Awards, CSR Awards
Photo: Pixbay

water_cooperation
The struggle to access clean water in many developing nations is no secret.  Every year, between six to eight million people perish due to water-borne diseases or lack of water.  Another cause of concern lies in the fact that over two thirds of the global population lives on the driest half of earth.  Experts estimate that 2.5 billion people lack proper water sanitation, and another 783 million completely struggle to locate access to any source of water.

In response to these alarming facts, the United Nations has declared 2013 the UN International Year of Water Cooperation to bring a revitalized focus and attention to these water issues.  The purpose of using water as the year’s theme is to ignite change in this crisis.  The plan is to draw more attention to successful water projects that have worked in various areas in an attempt to spark innovation and spread ideas in areas needing water development.  Other initiatives in the Year of Water Cooperation include increasing water education, working with regional leaders to develop relationships focused on addressing issues, settling border disputes involving water, and fundraising and developing necessary legal limits.

The UN chose the name International Year of Water Cooperation to highlight the necessity of forming regional bonds and of leaders working together to address the problems.  The theme is meant to inspire countries to share and work as a team to save millions of lives.  Since there are many different cultural, political and social factors at play in this global issue, cooperation remains the key to moving forward.

This initiative was started back in December 2010, among a United Nations General Assembly delegation.  The idea began by thinking of water as a chain: connected by various water basins, rivers and groundwater flow all around the world.  One objective of the year is to increase collaboration over sharing these resources to reach a maximum number of people, effectively creating a chain reaction.

If the water initiative goes successfully, not only will millions of lives be saved from simple prevention of disease, diarrhea and dehydration, but conflicts over water and ethnic fighting will simultaneously decrease.  The UN chose a strikingly important issue to focus on during 2013, with the potential to make an impact on the lives of billions of people around the planet.

Allison Meade

Sources: UN News Centre, UN Water, United Nations
Photo: 

UAEUK

The Minister of Development and International Co-operation (UAE), Lubna Al Qasimi, met with the Chief Minister of Island of Jersey, Senator Ian Gorst yesterday. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss international developmental and humanitarian actions and to boost cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. According to Shaikha Lubna, the UAE is trying to “align their points of view, in order to enhance the development and humanitarian efforts globally in the underprivileged countries.”

The contributions made by the UAE has allowed it to advance its rank globally in its achievement of developmental and humanitarian aid; thus, the UAE’s acquirement of the 16th rank pushes donors to raise their efforts in supporting developing countries. Senator Ian Gorst examined the “potential cooperation opportunities with UAE” and highlighted the projects and the mechanisms as to how these international development programs will be handled. The Senator went on to commend the UAE’s expertise in international development and the humanitarian standpoint. He applauded the successful efforts of the UAE in delivering aid and assistance to “affected people of man-made crises, such as in wars, food deficiencies, drought, poverty, in accordance with the directions and estimations of the international institutions.”

– Leen Abdallah
Source: Khaleej Times
Photo: UAE Interact