Whatever is done for Africa without the African people is not for Africa.

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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Credit: © Christophe Smets, La Boîte à Images

Authors: AEFJNCICODEVCGLTE-OACOPAGENESAFFFoE-AfricaRWA with support from other actors of Our Land is Our Life Platform. Supported by CIDSE.

A joint declaration of Social Movements and Peasant farmers, Faith-Based Organizations and CSO delivered at the “African People’s Summit” ahead of the 6th EU-Africa Summit, demanding more space for CSO and measures to guarantee land justice and agroecology.

We, members of a broad alliance of social and peasant movements, faith-based organisations and civil society across Africa observe with great apprehension as the EU and the African Union hold their 6th summit. Over the last 20 years of partnership, we have not seen any significant added benefit from the partnership, which has failed to improve the livelihoods of African rural communities. This partnership and similar ones with other regions of the world have shown themselves to rather be shadow structures that facilitate the grabbing of land, the plundering of natural resources, ongoing corporate impunity with the complicity of national and international authorities, with aggressive market expansion that comes at the expense of people’s prosperity and habitats.

We are saddened to observe that these issues of utmost urgency for Africa rarely make it to the centre of the negotiation table of the Summit discussions. Otherwise, how could we explain that food systems and agriculture and responding to Covid-19 were not part of the themes initially proposed for the Summit?

Notwithstanding the message of promoting a relationship of equals by the EU leaders, we observe the legacy of colonialism and of entrenched inequalities. We are concerned about the corporate-led and extractive neocolonialism that informs economic policies, and substantial power asymmetries that persist in the partnership. It is disturbing and problematic that there is no meaningful effort on the part of the EU to deal with this painful and sombre past. Indeed, a different mindset is needed for a transformative relationship between the two continents. The terrorism and conflicts in the Sahel and other regions of Africa and the forced migration of young Africans crossing the Mediterranean Sea are products of persisting extreme poverty, inequality, climate emergency and economic downturns.

We echo the essential words of late Bishop Desmond Tutu and say that we Africans are not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion. We want and demand the full menu of rights.

Convinced that African People deserve better consideration in the partnership, we recommend European and African leaders to:

  • Ensure space for civil society actors who must be able to freely and safely make their voices heard and influence decisions.
  • Support national governments – together with Civil Society – implementing the African Land Governance Strategy that will guarantee customary law of communities, women and youth rights and access to land, and ultimately reduce land governance challenges in the continent.
  • End the financing of Large-Scale Land Acquisition projects and speculative investments by public development banks that result in land grabs.
  • Recognise, value and support the vast potential of peasant agroecology to sustainably increase food sovereignty, reduce poverty and hunger while conserving biodiversity and respecting indigenous knowledge and innovation. This requires a shift in the kind of funded development programmes, as the trend clearly shows that public funders largely ignore these transformative approaches.
  • Recognise small-scale family farming as a viable structural model for developing the agricultural sector in Africa.
  • Support and develop the concept of territorial food systems, decentralise value addition, stimulate the rural economy while promoting local food governance.
  • Engage pro-actively in the negotiations towards a UN binding treaty on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights to fill the legal gap in international law and hold companies accountable for violations throughout their supply chains. The EU due diligence law should not be seen as an excuse for the region not to participate in this international process but rather as complementary.
  • Live up to promise by effectively and urgently sending African countries the quantities of Covid-19 vaccine that it pledged under the Covax initiative.
  • Support the initiative of India and South Africa for a patent moratorium on Covid-19 vaccines at the WTO until the end of the pandemic. Furthermore, the EU should pressure the CVI vaccine companies to agree to their technology transfer.
  • Demonstrate ambitious emissions reductions, and refrain from greenwashing.
  • Support investments in a decentralized clean energy transition adapted to Africa such as solar.
  • Ensure that African lands are not seen as carbon assets intended to offset the emissions of the main polluters – States and companies – under the cover of potential carbon credits which will only result in increased financialization of nature.
  • Support knowledge, know-how, life skills and our vision for the future, not by patenting life – we are not in favour of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants – but to develop and conduct research into appropriate and accessible therapeutic systems.
  • Protect human rights defenders, particularly those working to protect land, water and natural resources, and denounce their criminalisation.
  • Apply the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Rural Workers, by ensuring that relevant international cooperation activities, including international development programmes, are inclusive, accessible and helpful to peasants and other people working in rural areas; and that peasants and other people working in rural areas have the right to define and establish priorities and strategies concerning the exercise of their right to development.

The full list of signatories is available on https://www.cidse.org/

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