The African Union extra-ordinary summit on employment and poverty alleviation

African Heads of State and Government are stating that the route out of poverty is a decent job.

Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on employment and poverty reduction in Africa

Ouagadougou Summit On the initiative of President Compaoré of Burkina Faso, the Heads of State of the African Union (AU) are to hold an Extraordinary Summit on Employment and Poverty Alleviation here on 8-9 September 2004. The summit will be preceded by a Social Partners' Forum (Sept. 3-4), as well as a ministerial meeting (Sept. 5-6).

The goals of the extraordinary summit are to:

  • Consolidate the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), aimed at ensuring sustainable human development in Africa;
  • Reemphasize the dedication of the Heads of State in making employment central to the fight against poverty, in the context of globalization and technological, economic, political and social change;
  • Elaborate a Plan of Action with specific programmes for the creation of productive employment;
  • Establish an efficient and appropriate feedback mechanism for the follow up to the conclusions and decisions taken at the summit.

As part of the decision taken at the ordinary session in Maputo in July 2003, the AU Heads of State and Government asked the Commission of Social Affairs of the AU to "[take the necessary measures for the organization of the Extraordinary Summit on Employment and Poverty Alleviation in Africa] in collaboration with the Regional Economic Communities, the ILO, the development partners and other involved parties."

The Social Partners' Forum

The Social Partners' Forum, entitled "Decent work, a driving force for Africa's development," will bring together 80 representatives of employer and worker organizations as well as 20 observers from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and representatives of international institutions.

Key points: the creation of employment is one of the best methods for combating poverty; the goal of decent work must be a worldwide goal; a high and sustainable rate of economic growth is the first step in the fight against poverty; and the protection of fundamental workers' rights and social dialogue are irreplaceable tools for development.

The forum will adopt a social partners' message aimed at the Heads of State and Government.

ILO Communication

The communication provided by the ILO will revolve around two events: the Social Partners' Forum and the Extraordinary Summit for the Heads of State and Government.

The goal of the Social Partners' Forum is to:

  • Convey to the media the main points of debate and the final message of the social partners;
  • Reiterate the specific role the ILO must take to obtain a fair globalization

What you can do: obtain space in the press to publish the social partners' message and/or interviews; facilitate meetings between journalists and forum participants; and highlight stories of successful employment creation, preferably extracted from "Success Africa," a document that presents 30 success stories and which will be published by the ILO for this conference.

Concerning the extra ordinary summit

The summit is organized by the AU and official summit-related communications will therefore be their responsibility. The ILO will seek to promote decisions taken by the Heads of State and of Government.

An op-ed piece by the Director General of the ILO, who will be in Ouagadougou September 4-10, will present the Organization's position regarding to the Action Plan suggested by the Heads of State, and the anticipated methods of follow up. This op-ed piece will be made available to you, in both English and French, on September 6th. The op-ed can be pitched and made available for publication at the end of the Summit, on September 9th, or soon thereafter.

At any point in time, starting on September 2nd 2004, you can contact the communications officer in Burkina Faso (+226/7659-5758), or DCOMM in Geneva (+4122/799-7912). At the heart of the conference centre in Ouagadougou, a permanent radio studio will facilitate phone interviews.

“African Heads of State and Government are stating that the route out of poverty is a decent job. Those living in poverty have enormous reserves of courage, persistence and ingenuity. They are the ultimate entrepreneurs of their own lives. People in poverty go through each day with the will to survive but without the support and possibilities to move up the ladder of opportunity. Our common responsibility is to help put that support in place – and to help them move from survival to sustainable livelihoods.

The African Union is telling the international community that policy advice given to Africa needs a reality check. We don’t need more diagnosing or one-size-fits-all solutions. It’s time for the international financial institutions, the entire UN system, and bilateral cooperation to focus energies on job creation in Africa which we know is so fundamental to peace, security and unity. It’s time to put jobs back into the picture.”

Address by Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Office to the African Union Group of Ambassadors in Geneva (Geneva, 30 January 2004)