ACP YPN on CSOs & EPAs at the European Parliament

On 28th September 2017, Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN President and Founder presented on “Cariforum & SADC: A model for other EPAs?” as part of S&D Africa week 2017 at the European Parliament, Brussels. This was the first official presentation in ACP YPN’s new capacity as official member of the EU-Cariforum Joint Consultative Committee at the European Economic and Social Committee. MEP Maria Arena chaired the session with two other Expert panellists: Brenda King MBE, Member at the EESC and President of the Sustainable Development Observatory (EESC) and Junior Lodge, Team Leader of the ACP-EU Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) programme and former Cariforum negotiator.

Yentyl’s presentation focused on three main areas:

  1. ACP exceptionalism in EU trade agreements vis-à-vis CSO provisions
  2. ACP exceptionalism within the EU-ACP EPAs vis-à-vis CSO provisions
  3. Recommendations for the SADC EPA & EAC and ECOWAS JCCs

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Firstly, she explained that there is ACP exceptionalism in EU trade agreements. For example, the EU-ACP EPAs – be it the Cariforum EPA or others since, – depart from the logic of other trade agreements that the EU has signed since the EU-Korea trade agreement and the EU’s global strategy. Notably, they do not necessarily have legally binding commitments on civil society engagement, not do they have dedicated sustainable chapters, expect for the SADC EPA. See more via her joint publication here.

Secondly, she also explained that the exceptionalism also exists within the different EPAs: from the EU-EAC and the EU-ECOWAS EPAs that contain similar provisions to the EU-CARIFORUM EPA i.e. they establish the JCCs, to the SADC EPA which have no provisions, besides an article referring to monitoring through the “respective participative processes and institutions’ of the Parties” (Art. 4, EU-SADC EPA).

Third, Yentyl laid out three recommendations for the EU-SADC EPA: (i) A protocol could be added to the agreement; (ii) CSOs can still meet to discuss the agreement despite no formal provisions in the EPA for this; (iii) CSOs can be formally included through use of the revision clause five years after the EPA entered into force.

In conclusion, Yentyl responded to the main question of the panel discussion by stating that the EU-SADC EPA cannot be used as a model because of its lack of provisions for CSO inclusion. Yet, the EU-Cariforum JCC can share lessons, best practice and actively engage with the other regions that are establishing JCCs. She also highlighted that ACP exceptionalism in EU relations must come to and end, and there are many broader lessons to learn from the other EU trade agreements.

Find out more about the EU-Cariforum JCC’s 1st meeting here.

Find out more about the EU-Cariforum JCC’s 2nd meeting here.

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ACP YPN partner on Youth for the 2nd S&D Africa week

On 25-27 September, ACP YPN co-hosted and co-organised the S&D Africa week’s Africa-EU Youth workshop bringing together 25 young people from both continents as part of the 2nd S&D Africa week in the European Parliament in Brussels. The participants discussed the theme ‘The Youth Vision for the Future Africa-EU Partnership‘ and drew up the  S&D Group Africa Week 2017 Youth Declaration, which will be presented to the EU-AU Heads of State Summit in November, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast by Gianni Pittella, President of the S&D group of the European Parliament.

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The first day of the workshop was divided into four thematic clusters. The first session addressed the issue of “Africa’s Demographic Boom & Europe’s Demographic Demise?- A Chance or a Disaster? Sexual and reproductive health and rights – Access to health information, religion and culture: Who decides?” The session was moderated by MEP Maria Arena – S&D Group Coordinator at the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Member of the European Parliament Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) and an introduction to the topic was given by Gina Wharton, ACP YPN Expert on SRHR and Advocacy Advisor at IPPF Europe Network.

The second session focused on “Root causes of internal and external migration: Challenges and the way forward: Conflict, economy and climate change“. The session was moderated by MEP Cécile Kyenge – Vice-President of the ACP_EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Member of the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and introductory remarks to the subject was presented by Tarila Marclint Ebiede, ACP YPN Migration Expert.

The third session focused on “Youth employment: over-skilled, under-skilled or clientalism? Education, brain drain and entrepreneurship“. The session was moderated by MEP – Silvia Costa, S&D Group coordinator in the European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education, and introductory remarks were made on the role of entrepreneurship and education having positive impacts on youth employment by Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN President and Trade Expert.

Lastly, the fourth session focused on “Youth involvement in politics and public discourse: Good governance, transparency and accountability“. The session was moderated by MEP Elena Valenciano, Vice-President of the S&D Group and introductory remarks by June Paskalina Lacour, ACP YPN Expert and Project Coordinator. The second day was spent drafting the Declaration and a presentation of the main points discussed was made by the rapporteurs and special rapporter during the S&D group meeting on the third day of the workshop.

Besides the workshop, ACP YPN also contributed to the Foundation for Progressive European Studies (FEPS)SOLIDAR Millenial’s Dialogue, where Bora Kamwanya, ACP YPN Parliamentary Advisor spoke on “Africa at a Crossroads: Youth Political Mobilisation, Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly”. Bora presented alongside Serigne Bbodj, Researcher at the Imagine Africa Institue and Alphonse Muambi, Author and Expert on African elections & democracy, and the panel was chaired by Maria Freitas, Policy Advisor at FEPS.

Find out more about the S&D group here.

See more via #withAfrica

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ACP YPN with Youth for Sustainable Europe

On 24th – 27th September 2017, Aïssatou Touré, ACP YPN Agriculture and Sustainable Development Expert took part in “Youth for Sustainable Europe”- a special initiative for youth in development – organised by the Young European Federalists (JEF Europe) as part of the LADDER project (Local Authorities as Drivers for Development Education and Raising Awareness).

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Aïssatou discussed four important issues:

  1. the absence of reference to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in the New European Consensus on Development;
  2. the relevance of glocalizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  3. the importance to develop ACP- EU traineeship for the youth on sustainable agriculture;
  4. the necessity to build bridges for the youth in Belgium.
  • First, Aïssatou explained the place of the SDGs in the European Union (EU) development’s policy as written in its strategic document for the SDGs, the New European Consensus on Development. Aïssatou then emphasized the fact that the Cotonou partnership agreements between African Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) and the EU isn’t mentioned not once in the New European Consensus on Development, stating the evident lack of a coherent and pragmatic and inclusive strategy.
  • Second, Aïssatou suggested to glocalize the SDGs on a local level in order to implement it more easily and to be able to include the youth throughout the implementing process.
  • Third, Aïssatou proposed during a workshop on digital democracy with the Youth Metre tool the possibility to implement a training on eco-farming for the youth of ACP and EU countries to share good practices and expertise on the subject.
  • Fourth, Aïssatou in collaboration with a JEF member offered, during a workshop on youth participation, to develop a project “Breaking the Bubbles” that exist between European expats and Belgian with migrant background by creating bridges throughout a variety of activities.

In conclusion, throughout the different panel discussions, workshops and debates several tangible concrete solutions were discussed, good practices and expertise were shared, all with the aim of enhancing youth participation for a more sustainable world.

By Aïssatou Touré – Get in touch with Aïssatou on LinkedIn Twitter.

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ACP YPN at the 2nd Africa Co-Operative Youth Conference

On the 21st of September, Bora Kamwanya ACP YPN Parliamentary Relations Officer attended and spoke at Alliance Africa 2nd Africa-Co-operative Youth Conference in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo which brought together Youth from 17 African Nations. The conference was about the “Harnessing Innovation among Youth through Co-operatives”. Before a crowd of Youth who individually have positively affected their community and the Provincial Minister Representing the Congolese Authority, Bora opened his intervention by remind the participants and government representatives present thatLeadership does not respect age.

Taking the example of ACP YPN Joint Parliamentary Assembly Youth Conference, which brings together Youth from ACP and EU countries and create an inter-generational dialogue with ACP & EU Members of National and European Parliament. He called on the youth to be involved as much as possible in policy making to make their voices heard by policymakers on one hand and on the other hand to learn, support and teach other Youth about the legislative process at local, regional, national and international level.

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Bora explained that over the past three editions of the ACP YPN Joint Parliamentary Assembly Youth Conference a Declaration and an Action plan were drafted by ACP, EU & Diaspora Youth and submitted to Members of National Parliament of ACP countries and the Members of European Parliament. The next step is the implementation process, and here again Youth carried a great responsibility in the “Right” implementation and need to find and developed social and economic sustainable solutions. He explained that youth will have to assess Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063 and that they need to be taking actions now; Bora invited interested youth to participate to the next ACP YPN Steering Committee en vue of the next ACP YPN JPA Youth Conference organised in collaboration with the ACP Secretariat and the European Parliament.

To conclude; Bora addressed Official present and inquired who’s future are they planning if they do not include the youth; before quoting Nelson Mandela “What is done for us without us, is done against us”. Nothing good will be done for us. If we want both our worlds to meet, we the youth need to make the first step and never stop going forward to get what we want and deserve.

By Bora Kamwanya

Contact & follow Bora Kamwanya via twitter & LinkedIn

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ACP YPN at Linklater’s Diversity & Inclusion week

On 11th September 2017, Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN President and Founder, moderated the panel on ‘Inter-sectionality in law and practice’ as part of Linklater’s Diversity & Inclusions week. She had the honour to join Jason-Louise Graham, Knowledge & Learning, Linklaters who spear-headed the initiative, and Alfiaz Vaiya, Coordinator of the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI).

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Jason-Louise Graham provided a brief summary of the meaning of intersectionality by summarising the legal case of Emma DeGraffenreid v. GENERAL MOTORS (GM) 1976. The Court dismissed the case because GM had hired women, albeit white, and it had hired black people, albeit men. The court did not see the problem and would not let Emma DeGraffenreid benefit from two separate claims in one go. The court dismissed the case because the facts did not fit into the available lens or frame so it could not easily incorporate these facts into its way of reasoning, thus creating a blind spot. In other words, Crenshaw concluded: We cannot see/identify a problem when we do not have words to communicate about it, and we cannot communicate about it unless we can see it, but we cannot see it unless we have the correct lens to see with. The court did not have the correct lens. After discovering this case, in the 1980’s, Professor Kimberly Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality. She uses the word to explain that people’s identities are multi-dimensional – something we are all aware of. But identities are the layered in power – some with mostly dominant characteristics, while others are layered with more (or mostly) non-dominant, or marginalising characteristics. When multiple social ‘problems’ overlap, they create multiple levels of social injustice.

Alfiaz presented on Mainstreaming Anti-Racism & Inter-Sectionality based on his work as co-ordinator of ARDI. He presented the two CJEU cases: G4S v Achbita and Bougnaoui and explained the following: 1) ‘Neutrality’, set of norms based on the historical development of the majority population of any country, historical social construct, subject to change; 2) One cannot be neutral only by removing certain visible signs, a broad and diverse range of behaviours, opinions, ideas exist that cannot be “neutralized”; 3) Neutrality should be required for the tasks you perform as an employee, not for the clothes you wear; 4) Generally, policies of neutrality are used to justify restrictions on the ability of religious, ethnic and racial minorities to manifest their religion. Neutrality policies do not tend to be used to counter the effect of broader, mainstream and more invisible influences in the work-place; 5) Policies of neutrality are not neutral – they exclude some symbols of difference (religious symbols) but not others (clothing signifying gender); 6) Policies of neutrality disproportionately affect those choosing to visibly manifest their religion over those who do not or those who do not have a religion; 7) Workplaces in Europe should be the reflection of an increasingly diverse Europe and not only open to those who fit white secular norms.

Yentyl posed several questions to Alfiaz, including ‘Are there national frontiers within the debate on racial equality?’ and gave input with regards to the work that ACP YPN is doing to increase diversity and inclusion at the level of the EU e.g. starting with promoting diversity at the College of Europe, but also recently co-signing a joint CSO letter on recommendations for the European Commission’s Diversity & Inclusion Strategy. There was active participation from the audience, with all questions coming from senior management. Yentyl referenced the finding’s of the Deloitte Human Capital Trends report 2017, which aptly states that ‘diverse and inclusive teams are more innovative, engaged, and creative in their work‘.

What is Linklaters? Linklaters LLP is a multinational law firm – the Linklaters Brussels office has more than 120 staff with specialists in different legal fields wrking with a diverse range of clients, from corporations, financial institutions and governments. The Belgian team is closely integrated within the global platform of more than 2,000 lawyers across 29 offices in 20 countries.

Are you a student, trainee or junior lawyer interested to join Linklaters? Find out more information here.

What is ARDI? The European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI) exists to promote racial equality, counter racism, and educate about non-discrimination in the work of the European Parliament. It aims to be at the heart of parliamentary work for racial equality, and against all discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, and nationality. The Intergroup also looks at discrimination based on these grounds together with gender and age.

What does ARDI do? ARDI works to 1) Mainstream anti-racism and diversity in European Parliament policy areas such as migration, and support initiatives on other discrimination grounds (such as the adoption of the European Union (EU) Equal Treatment Directive); 2) Adopt calls for national strategies to combat Afrophobia, anti-Gypsyism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, as well as ensure the implementation of National Roma Integration Strategy in line with non-discrimination standards, and identify key policy areas to advance equality; 3) Strengthen EU and national legal basis to tackle all crimes of hate speech and crime and to ensure investigation and prosecution of racist crimes; 4) Implement appropriate disciplinary and self-regulatory mechanisms in the European Parliament to help combat hate speech in the European Parliament and by European political leaders; 5) Promote diversity in the workplace and in political participation.

ACP YPN was supported by Rachele Gianfagna, LLM graduate specialised in EU migration and a trainee lawyer with Avocats sans Frontières; and Anne Oloo, LLM student at the University of Ghent.

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ACP YPN co-sign letter EU Diversity & Inclusion Strategy

On 4th September 2017, the ACP YPN and 28 organisations working on equality in the EU published an open letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, President of European Commission and Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, which expresses some deep concern vis-à-vis the European Commission’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy – ‘A better workplace for all: from equal opportunities to towards diversity and inclusion.’

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Firstly, the letter expresses concern “with the decision to exclude staff belonging to racial, ethnic and religious minorities as a specific target group in this strategy and the failure to plan targeted measures to improve racial, ethnic and religious diversity at the European Commission”.

Secondly, the letter also expresses concern that “[b]y not specifically tackling discrimination based on race, ethnic origin and religion, this strategy falls short of this mission and overlooks one of the most pressing concerns of diversity and inclusion in the European Commission today”.

 Thirdly, the letter underlines that “Particularly at senior levels, the issue of under-representation is acute. This points to a trend of structural discrimination within the European Commission and jeopardises the equal inclusion of racial, ethnic and religious minority staff”.

Based on these issues, the co-signatories recommended that:

  1. The Strategy be amended immediately to include ‘racial, ethnic and religious minority staff’ as a target group and specific measures are developed to ensure that the Commission is a fair and equal workplace for this group.
  2. The specific measures acknowledge and take steps to address the overwhelming lack of representation of racial, ethnic and religious minorities (particularly at senior levels), discrimination within the workplace, and the need for policies for reasonable accommodation of cultural and religious needs for Commission staff. Particular attention should also be devoted to the workplace situation of women belonging to this group.
  3. In the design of the forthcoming operational action plan the European Commission should seek advice from organisations with expertise on this issue, and consult racial, ethnic and religious minority staff – both men and women. The plan should implement specific measures for this target group.

Read the full letter here via the ENAR website.

What is the European Network Against Racism (ENAR)? ENAR is the only pan-European anti-racism network that combines advocacy for racial equality and facilitating cooperation among civil society anti-racism actors in Europe. The organisation was set up in 1998 by grassroots activists on a mission to achieve legal changes at European level and make decisive progress towards racial equality in all EU Member States. Since then, ENAR has grown and achieved a great deal.

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