African Union ECOSOCC E-Symposium


LUSAKA, ZAMBIA / VIRTUAL 

The African Union’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU-ECOSOCC) held a significant virtual symposium in April 2024. Titled “ECOSOCC Beyond 20: Redefining the Role of Civil Society in the African Union Ecosystem,” the event served as a key part of the lead-up to their 20th anniversary celebration in July.

The symposium brought together important stakeholders and civil society organization (CSO) representatives from across Africa. It provided a platform for not only reflecting on two decades of impactful contributions by civil society, but also for looking ahead to strengthen future collaborations within the AU. Notably, Council Chairman Mr. Fabien Anthony, highlighted ECOSOCC’s role in facilitating the involvement of African CSOs and the diaspora in AU policy dialogues, thus ensuring a broad spectrum of voices are heard in critical discussions.

Founding principles of the African Union were emphasized by Ms. Fatima Karadja, a former ECOSOCC Deputy Presiding Officer. She underscored the crucial role CSOs play in shaping policy by highlighting that public policies should be derived from the people. Ms. Karadja further stressed the importance of a comprehensive review by ECOSOCC to assess its achievements and challenges, allowing for better targeted objectives in the future.

Many CSO participants then shared their experiences and visions for the future. They discussed the importance of civil society voices in AU decision-making and strategies to amplify policy impact. Mr. Khalid Boudali, the current Presiding Officer of ECOSOCC, emphasized the symposium’s role in shaping civil society’s interaction with the AU. He acknowledged the historical resilience and development of CSOs, along with their proactive role in advocacy and policy formation.

Looking to the future

The symposium concluded with a focus on the future. Mr. William Carew, Head of Secretariat, spoke on the centrality of citizen engagement in the development process. Reflecting on the challenges and opportunities encountered by ECOSOCC over the past twenty years, he described the symposium as a “golden opportunity” to discuss and devise solutions to enhance civil society engagement with the African Union.

An outcome document will be compiled from the discussions and presented to AU member states before the 20th anniversary celebrations. This document will not only serve as a reference for ongoing reviews of ECOSOCC’s legal framework, but will also encapsulate the valuable deliberations from the symposium. The event solidified ECOSOCC’s dedication to fostering a more prominent role for civil society within the African Union ecosystem.


African Union ECOSOCC E-Symposium

African Union ECOSOCC E-Symposium

African Union ECOSOCC E-Symposium