In collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt and the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) recently held a two-day experts’ meeting which discussed the possibilities of implementing the Buenos Aires Plan of Action BAPA+40 outcome document to promote South-South Cooperation (SSC) in Africa
The Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA) for the Implementation of Technical Co-operation among Developing Countries (TCDC) was the outcome document of the maiden United Nations Conference on TCDC, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December, 1978. Adopted in 1979, the BAPA outcome document was the first comprehensive framework for South-South Cooperation (SSC). It reaffirms the purpose of technical cooperation among countries in the global South, encouraging the sharing of knowledge and technical cooperation among countries of the South as well as enhancing the notion of solidarity between post-colonial countries.
In 2019, the BAPA+40 document was adopted at the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South cooperation which coincided with the 40th anniversary of the BAPA document, also held in Buenos Aires, March 20 – 22 2019, under the theme: “The role of South-South cooperation and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Challenges and opportunities.”
Unfortunately, not much has happened in terms of the implementation of the BAPA document in the last four decades across the global South including Africa. It was against this backdrop that the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt and UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), held a two-day experts’ meeting in Cairo, Egypt, 28 – 29 January 2020. The meeting explored the possibilities of implementing the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA +40) outcome document to promote South-South Cooperation (SSC) in Africa.
The experts’ meeting, which was declared open by the CEO of APRM, Prof. Eddy Maloka, and Egypt’s focal point to APRM, Amb. Soha Gendi, had in attendance representatives of the African Union Commission (AUC), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), UNOSSC, and the World Food Program (WFP). Others in attendance were the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the International Organization of Migration (IOM), and the Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD) at University of South Africa.
Throughout the two-day meeting, SSC experts including Director of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, Mr. Jorge Chediek, deliberated on the BAPA+40 outcome document, identifying provisions that may have a direct impact on APRM’s core and expanded mandates, some of which are pertinent to the implementation of Africa’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.
The BAPA+40 outcome document encourages developing countries to strengthen experience-sharing in National Development Planning (NDP) for the attainment of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development (SDGs). It also stresses the importance of sharing knowledge, skills and best practices on South-South and triangular cooperation (SSTrC), voluntarily, so as to achieve SDGs, as well as the necessity of strengthening regional and sub-regional mechanisms to serve this objective.
While speaking at the meeting, Prof. Maloka emphasized the necessity of collaboration between APRM and other AU organs including the AUC Chairperson Bureau, to institutionalize the implementation of the BAPA+40 outcome document, in partnership with the concerned UN organs and emerging donors from the South. Experts from the APRM continental secretariat shed light on the value of the APRM’s research-oriented studies including its targeted reviews, the Africa Governance Report (AGR) as well as the series of peer-learning workshops for Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on Sustainable Development Goals. They said, all of these research-oriented studies offered valuable openings for mainstreaming SSC into APRM’s engagements.
Experts at the meeting also pointed out the need for governance issues relating to the flagship projects of Agenda 2063, particularly, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to be tackled through the APRM. While offering an APRM Member States’ experience, Amb Ashraf Rashed, Chairperson of the APRM National Governance Council (NGC) in Egypt, presented findings of Egypt’s self-assessment for good governance, concluded in 2019. Amb. Mona Omar, a member of the APR Panel of Eminent Persons, also highlighted the role of APRM’s reviews in addressing gender-based issues in the context of peacebuilding and tracking of the implementation of the Maputo Protocol.
In addition to the APRM’s previous engagement in SSC initiatives and its relevance to Agenda 2063, the first Africa Report on South-South Cooperation released in 2019, had highlighted key challenges and the importance of expanding SSTrC in Africa. Some of the deficiencies and issues the report outlined were the lack of a holistic approach for mainstreaming SCC into development plans; the need for transparent monitoring and evaluation tools to assess the impact of SSC in Africa; as well as the lack of data on SSC initiatives and structured programs.
Others were limited financial resources and sometimes duplicated and overlapped SSC funded projects; the absence of institutional mechanisms to sustain SSC in many developing countries and the necessity for an inclusive approach to engagement with stakeholders from the global South.
To operationalize the APRM’s engagement in SSC activities and projects in Africa, the experts put forward key recommendations including: Encouraging the APRM’s involvement in SSC initiatives which are aligned with its core and expanded mandates, especially the VNRs and governance aspects of AfCFTA; Reviewing feedback and comments received from APRM stakeholders on the Inaugural AGR; as well as Considering further inputs from essential AU Organs, Institutions and Agencies such as the Pan African Parliament (PAP), Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSSOC), African Union Development Agency –New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) and the AU Commission.
Other recommendations are: Using inputs to develop appropriate questions on the impact of partnerships for member states’ development goals (e.g., nature, volume, scope, projects etc) and mainstreaming SSC questions into the APRM’s upcoming studies; as well as Using quantitative, evidence-based data generated from the data collection exercises.
To ensure the sustainability of horizontal coherence among AU organs, a working group comprising of representatives from AUC, NEPAD, APRM, and AUC Chairperson’s Bureau shall be created. The working group will also discuss APRM’s suggested strategy for translating the BAPA+40 outcome document into tangible actions.
Mr Chediek, who described APRM as a successful mechanism and a perfect example of the South-South collaboration model on the African continent, indicated his office’s interest in supporting the Mechanism. He therefore commended the APRM’s keenness in translating the BAPA+40 document into action, urging the necessity for collaborations between APRM and similar Asian and Latin American voluntary governance mechanisms. He said such collaborations would aid the smooth implementation of the various Agenda 2063 projects, particularly those relating to trade facilitation, civil society empowerment, national planning as well as gender and conflict containment processes.
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