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Statement following the Ministerial Meeting of the Global African Diaspora, OR Tambo Building, 23 May 2012

The Ministerial Meeting of the Global African Diaspora, hosted at the OR Tambo Building, Pretoria, South Africa, forms part of a series of activities building up to the Global African Diaspora Summit, which takes place on Africa Day, 25 May.

The outcomes of the meeting will form the basis of the agenda of the Global African Diaspora Summit and will be presented to Heads of State and Government for consideration and decision.

As it has been mentioned already, this Summit takes place in a year that is historically significant to the African continent. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of the African Union.

The unity of the people of Africa, on the Continent and the Diaspora, remains a goal that the African Union and its member states strive to achieve.

The Global African Diaspora Summit is one of the vehicles through which the African Union and the African Diaspora aim to realize the vision or a united, peaceful and prosperous Africa and her Diaspora.

The outcomes of this meeting will be our own contribution to the decisions our leaders will take at the Summit on Friday.

We are mindful of the fact that unifying Africa’s people is a process; and we are of the view that this Summit marks a significant milestone in this process of unifying Africa and her Diaspora.

The meeting today is a follow-up to the last Ministerial Meeting of the Global African Diaspora, which took place in New York in September 2011 on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.

The outcomes of our New York meeting were presented and endorsed by the January 2012 Summit of the African Union which also called upon the Republic of South Africa to continue its collaboration with the AU Commission in preparation for the May 25 African Diaspora Summit.

Today we reflected on how far we have carried forward the goals we have set ourselves to achieve in New York, as well as other meetings we have had on the Diaspora Summit. Indeed, what brought us together under one roof is to engage frankly and openly on issues we collectively believe will add value to the outcomes of the Summit.

The meeting in New York was not the first in the journey towards the Summit. When South Africa was celebrating the 10th anniversary of our freedom from apartheid in 2004, we co-hosted with the AU and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) the African Diaspora Ministerial Conference in March 2005 in Jamaica.  This Ministerial Conference arrived at a number of important conclusions, amongst which are the following:

•          Firstly, the African Union and CARICOM should continue to develop a concrete mechanism for the institutionalization of the relations between the two bodies;

•          Secondly; that African and Caribbean governments should explore and develop concrete measures for promoting linkages between the two regions in the following priority areas: trade and investment, science and technology, travel and tourism, education and culture, health, and environmental issues;

•          Thirdly; that African and Caribbean organs of civil society should explore and develop concrete measures for promoting linkages and collaboration between the two regions; and

•          Fourthly; that Africa and the Caribbean, through their regional organizations, should explore ways of harmonizing international diplomacy.

When our leaders meet on Friday, 25 May 2012, they will look at how best to implement these conclusions.  This is what the draft Summit Declaration and Programme of Action attempt to achieve.

These documents are a product of extensive and rigorous consultations with all sectors of our people both on the continent and in the Diaspora. A series of multi-stakeholder consultations were held between April and October 2007 in Latin America, the United Kingdom, North America, Europe, and the Caribbean region.  African civil society was also engaged in this process.

At the level of governments, we met as Ministers in November 2007 in Midrand (here in South Africa) to receive the report of all these consultations and consider elements of what is contained in the draft documents that our leaders will adopt on Friday.

Similarly, in the past few days, we have been engaged in a series of Pre-Summit consultations with (among others) the business community, civil society, community-based organisations, and the women and youth. These consultations are aimed at harnessing our collective ideas to ensure that we achieve our common objectives at this Summit.

The Summit will work for an outcome that that will help create sustainable partnerships between the African Diaspora and the African Continent through a realisable Programme-of-Action; create sustainable dialogue, partnerships and strengthen Pan-African Solidarity, for a better Africa and her Diaspora; and promote South-South cooperation.

One amongst what we believe will be adopted at the Summit is a set of Legacy Projects to anchor the implementation of its outcomes.  These Legacy projects will be in the areas of:

•          The AU Diaspora Volunteer Programme that would associate the Diaspora directly and urgently with the development efforts on the Continent and give concrete meaning to concept of one African family;

•          An African Diaspora Development Fund and Remittances and Financial instruments;

•          The development of a Skills Database of Diaspora Professionals;

•          The adoption and promotion of the Development Market Place for an African Diaspora model as a framework to facilitate innovation and develop entrepreneurship to empower the youth of the Continent and her Diaspora; and

•               The establishment of the African Remittance Institute.

The African Diaspora Summit is the culmination of a long history of association – a history of unity in struggle – between the people of Africa and its Diaspora.

We have been united as people of African descent by our struggle against slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism.  This struggle has indeed produced many great leaders and brilliant thinkers who continue to guide and inspire us to this day.

Through the Summit, we also pay tribute to the heroic struggles of our African brothers and sisters in the Diaspora who have fought hard for their own freedom as well as for the freedom of their brothers and sisters on the Mother Continent.

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