Marrakech — The 20th session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa (RCM-Africa), which was held recently in Marrakech, provided a platform for high-level panel discussions on issues pertinent to the United Nation's support to the African Union.
Some of the high-level participants included the United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Amina J. Mohammed; Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe; the Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations and Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Ambassador Omar Hilale; Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology of the African Union Commission (AUC), Ambassador Sarah Anyang Agbor and many others.
The session was organized jointly by the secretariats of the Mechanism and regional teams of the United Nations Development Group for Eastern and Southern Africa and for Western and Central Africa.
The theme of the meeting was; "United Nations system support for the African Union in commemorating 2019 as the Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: towards durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa.
Ms. Mohammed underlined the following areas as pertinent to strengthening the work of RCM-Africa:
- RCM-Africa needed to be results-oriented and ensure that the delivery mechanisms are well-coordinated and effective;
- RCM-Africa needed to be more accountable and work with a sense of urgency;
- There is a need for real time data for evidence-based policy making and analysis. This calls for among other measures, using existing data to understand trends; the use of common baselines and methodologies is also deemed important;
- More importantly, interventions by different United Nations agencies should be framed in the context of a joint United Nations response using the RCM-Africa architecture as the rallying platform. In this respect, RCM-Africa and its SRCMs should foster horizontal and vertical coherence.
High-level panel discussion on the theme: Addressing the root causes of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons
- United Nations entities should collaborate with a view to leveraging synergies and allocating resources to programmes that focus on broad-based and grassroots level development. This will help to expedite the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063, and contribute to mitigating the drivers of refugees and forced displacement;
- There is a need to establish a continent-wide system that allows for evaluation and recognition of countries' academic and vocational qualifications to help employers or higher institutions of learning in Africa understand how the qualifications of countries relate to one another. This will promote mutual recognition of educational credentials and enhance access to employment opportunities by refugees and migrants;
- At the member State level, there is a need to strengthen governance and local authorities to build links between the people and the State. Governments should be supported to invest in preparing the growing populations to meet the demands of an evolving job market. This should be backed by adequate civil registration system that facilitates biometric data identification to ensure high individual identification accuracy;
- Africa needs to take a leadership role in addressing the refugee and migration challenge, which continues to manifest as a complex and divisive issue. In doing so, women and young people should be seen as agents of change rather than passive beneficiaries.
High-level panel discussion on the theme: Upscaling durable solutions, including addressing the forced displacement-development nexus
- There is a need to prioritize preventative measures rather than dealing with the crisis in the aftermath. In this regard, the development of refugee/ migration strategies should be informed by a thorough analysis of the root causes underlying the prevalence of the refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants' situation;
- Given the particular vulnerability of women and girls in refugee and displacement situations, there is a need to adopt a gendered approach to humanitarian actions in order to ensure that their concerns and needs are given the attention they deserve and are adequately addressed;
- An inclusive approach to economic growth should be pursued. This should include putting in place policies and programmes that tackle the challenge of income inequality, and contribute to enforcing social justice with particular regard to vulnerable groups such as women and young people;
- Collaboration between the African Union, United Nations and other humanitarian actors need to build on promising practices and promote grassroots approaches for effective humanitarian responses. This, among other actions, call for building the capacity of local and national organizations including women's and youth groups to engage in leadership and decision-making in humanitarian structures and responses;
- Domestic resource mobilization must be enhanced by among other measures, strengthening tax laws and administration to generate resources geared towards inclusive development initiatives and the prevention of refugee crises;
- There is a need to enhance investments in human capital with an emphasis on youth, with a view to fostering innovative practices, creating decent jobs and promoting the use of appropriate technologies in agriculture;
- Rural development must be promoted and supported in order to revitalize rural areas and create local employment opportunities for youth. This requires a good combination of multi-level governance systems, infrastructure development and innovation. There is also a need to foster the development of a green economy in rural areas.
- Third high-level panel discussion on the theme: Coordinating the work under the Compacts related to Migration, and to Refugees
Participants proffered the following recommendations to contribute to the coordinated implementation of the two compacts:
- More effort should be made to ensure that the contents of the global compacts on refugees and migrants inform the programmes and initiatives of member States;
- Coordinated implementation of the two compacts call for collaborative approaches at national and regional levels. In this regard, joint steering committees supported by adequately resourced secretariats and working groups should be seen as key;
- RCM-Africa and its Subregional Coordination Mechanisms should be leveraged in promoting the coordinated and synergistic implementation of the two compacts;
- In-depth analysis should be undertaken to identify vulnerability, risks and threats to populations, to better understand what is forcing people to become refugees or migrants and to inform policy measures and interventions in both the originating and host countries.
High-level panel discussion on the theme: The Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa's support to the African Union agenda on refugees, returnees and Internally Displaced Persons
- There is a need to move away from a firefighting mode to a prevention mode in tackling key emergency issues, and to adopt integrated approaches to interventions. This necessitates more investments in preventive measures, with member States taking the lead and the United Nations system acting in a supportive role;
- The United Nations system should support the strengthening of early warning systems at all levels in order to bolster the resilience of communities. This should include the establishment of a database of vulnerable areas for improved early warning and emergency response actions;
- The structural root causes of displacement need to be tackled decisively, including addressing the climate change, disasters, conflict, migration, as well as gaps in the fundamentals that underlie the peace and security and development nexus. The United Nations system should support this endeavour by strengthening the capacity of member States to develop and implement climate and disaster risk reduction strategies and plans in the context of the Sendai Framework and the Paris Climate Change Agreement, as well as aligning the work of Regional Economic Communities, African Union Commission and United Nations agencies to promote better coordination of interventions, efficiency and effectiveness, taking into consideration the principles of complementarity and subsidiarity;
- In supporting the implementation of the African Union roadmap on the theme, Cluster 6 (Humanitarian Matters and Disaster Risk Management) of RCM-Africa should work with all relevant Clusters and the Subregional Coordination Mechanisms for optimal results.
There was an observation that the coming into effect of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) would not signal the end, but rather, the beginning of the hard work ahead in order for member States to benefit from the agreement.
The main recommendation arising from the deliberation was for future sessions of RCM-Africa to dedicate sufficient time to discussing matters relevant to its functioning and delivery on the African Union priorities and the two African Union- United Nations Frameworks in order to register concrete results and the desired impact.