UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed at strengthening cooperation with the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), which was established to ensure the full participation of the African peoples in the African Union (AU).
The MoU was signed at the seat of the PAP in Midrand, South Africa, by UNHCR Representative to the AU and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Cosmas Chanda and PAP President Roger Nkodo Dang, on the sidelines of a special segment of the Second Ordinary Session of the PAP's Fifth Parliament. The special segment focused on the AU's 2019 theme of "Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced People."
Under the MoU, UNHCR and the PAP will prioritize systematic collaboration, including within the framework of the AU, at every phase of the forced displacement cycle by including refugees and others of concern in development plans, and in analysing root causes and preparedness.
The two sides agreed to "collaborate, cooperate and interact through initiatives and activities on fields of cooperation," according to the MoU, with a focus on learning and capacity building programmes for MPs; joint field visits; advocacy for accession to UN, AU and OAU Conventions on forced displacement and statelessness; and strengthening the link between the executive and parliamentary arms of governance on issues of concern to UNHCR.
Other areas of cooperation will include identifying focal points and champions among MPs on statelessness and refugees; reaching out to national constituencies on forced displacement; co-organizing high-level events; and providing technical support to PAP committees on statelessness and refugees. UNHCR and the PAP will conduct joint research and work to spread awareness and exchange information. The two sides will develop a joint Plan of Action to advance the areas of collaboration outlined in the MoU.
UNHCR and PAP agreed on measures to strengthen protection and find solutions for the forcibly displaced and stateless, including promoting the goals of the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Action Plan to End Statelessness.
"This is an important development for us, one which reflects the important role that we believe parliamentarians can play in influencing governments and helping to find durable solutions to one of the most challenging issues the world is facing," said UNHCR's Chanda.
PAP's Dang said, "I am happy that we reached this agreement to extend our cooperation in the field of refugees, IDPs and statelessness. I welcome the support of UNHCR and hope that we will be able to work to raise awareness of forced displacement among members of the PAP. PAP Parliamentarians are particularly looking forward to UNHCR facilitating their field visits to refugee camps."
The PAP is a continental house of representatives with consultative and advisory powers. It works, among other things, to facilitate the effective implementation of AU policies and to promote human rights, democracy peace, security and stability in Africa.