Lusaka, 23rdMarch 2016:The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region’s Levy Mwanawasa Regional Centre for Democracy and Good Governance (ICGLR -LMRC) in whittling its mandate of implementing the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes, organised in partnership with International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), a High Level Panel Discussion on “Democracy, Respect of Human Rights, Security and Development in Africa” at the Southern Sun Ridgeway Hotel on 22nd March, 2016. The meeting brought together representatives of High Commissions and Embassies accredited to the Republic of Zambia, African Union Organ (AU/ECOSOCC), Civil Society Organisations, Academicians, Political Parties, the Media, various interest groups and members of staff from IDEA and ICGLR-LMRC.
The three hour dialogue reflected on the link between Democracy, Respect for Human Rights, Security and Development in Africa. It focussed on exploring avenues for deepening the nexus between participatory and inclusive democratic governance and development in Africa; as well as reflecting on mechanisms by which African States can strengthen new vertical and horizontal social contract with their citizens. It also explored options for an agenda for further action by various democracy actors, including areas for which capacity development and deeper knowledge of the dynamics at play would be required.
In his welcoming remarks, the Executive Director of ICGLR-LMRC, Dr. Frank Okuthe, shared his enchantment to the participants and panellists who responded to the invitation to be part of the Panel Dialogue and stressed the usefulness of such dialogues in finding relevant strategies and mechanisms to deepen Democracy, Respect of Human Rights, Security and Development on the continent.
The Regional Director of the International IDEA, Professor Adebayo Olukoshi in his opening remarks highlighted the history of IDEA engagement in democratic debate with various actors across the Continent and the World. He expressed gratitude to the ICGLR-LMRC for co-hosting the dialogue and thanked the participants and panellists for accepting the invitation to attend this meeting.
In his key note address setting the tone of the dialogue, Professor Said Adejumobi, Director of the Southern Africa Office of the United Nation Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) stressed the need of developing developmental democratic States in Africa which emphasises participation, inclusiveness and empowerment of its citizenry. He accentuated the role of the agency (leadership) with clear visions coupled with a critical mass in driving the vision of any state, need for ownership of development policies and the development of the human capital on the Continent.
This was ricocheted by Mr Goodwell Lungu, the Executive Director of Transparency International Zambia who overemphasised the need of building strong democratic institutions based on accountability, the need to narrow the expectation gaps through signing of social contracts by elected leaders and avoid state capture. Other panellists from the African Union Commission and its affiliate organ (AU/ECOSOCC) highlighted the continental instruments ratified by Member States towards the advancement of Democracy, Human Rights, Security and Human Development.
Finally, the dialogue provided an opportunity for participants to share concrete ideas about the practical relationships between Democracy, Respect for Human Rights, Security and Development at continental, regional and national level. Which contributed to participant’s better understanding of the current democratic development debate, as well as to identify ways of improving democratic transitions and human right dividends in Africa.