West African Civil Society Conference set for Dec 8 – 9

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The West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) in collaboration with the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), and support from the Commonwealth Foundation, is poised to hold its first Annual West Africa Civil Society Conference at Mensvic Hotel – Accra from December 8 – 9, 2014.

The Conference which will be under the theme ‘Strategizing for the Post-2015 and ECOWAS 2020 Development Agenda for West Africa,’ is to give development partners, government institutions and West Africa Civil Society organizations timely opportunity to mutually craft strategies for a regional agenda on post-2015 of the millennium development goals (MDGs).

Speaking at a press launch Thursday in Accra, the Executive Director of West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), Nana Asantewa Afadzinu said a robust and engaged civil society is both necessary condition for deepening democracy, a strong culture of active citizenship and sustained development.

She added that organized civil societies have played pivotal role in West Africa since the colonial periods.

“Civil society in West Africa plays key role in the proper functioning of the state. As actors within the civil society sector, we possess a wide range of knowledge, experience and expertise that could be of great benefit to states and other institutions in governance.

By virtue of our multidimensional and non-rigid structure, we have the capability to adapt to rapid global changes, helping to initiate, promote and strengthen comprehensive and objective dialogue between governments and their people. In this way, civil society organizations foster conflict resolution, advances human rights and as well promote better decentralization processes,” she said.

According to the Executive Director, CSOs have made significant contributions to the development gains we all enjoy across the West African sub-region. “A strong West African civil society will contribute meaningfully to the successful design and implementation of development policies that will benefit all West Africans,” she noted.

Ms Afadzinu in her address explained that in Ghana, CSOs have played crucial role in advocating for the passage of laws that protect the vulnerable in society such as Domestic Violence Bill, which was passed February 2007.

She however added that in 2010, Liberia became only country in Africa, and the first in West Africa, to pass the right to information legislation, the process which was shaped and facilitated by active engagement of civil society coalition.

The conference will offer participants opportunity to interrogate various roles in the implementation of ECOWAS Vision 2020 and as well agree on effective strategies to make it real and beneficial to the ordinary West African citizen.

The convening will also serve as an opportunity to discuss the current interventions on the Ebola Virus Epidemic in West Africa and as well enable participants to strategically improve on contributions towards eradicating the deadly disease from the region.

In all, 13 West African unified civil society organizations will take part in this year’s conference which will better represent the views of West Africans in making relevant inputs to a development agenda.

Countries that will be represented at the conference are Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Mali, The Gambia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

source : ghanaweb.com