Just about now the official opening of the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development will take place at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) amid high security. I will not attend the opening as passes for Civil Society are very limited for the opening session. However 500 passes will be available from 1.00 p.m. on a first come, first serve basis. I think this is adequate for the numbers attending. Last evening completed the two day civil society forum which was held at the Dessalign Hotel and it was preceded on Friday by a Women’s Forum at the Dreamliner Hotel. I attended the afternoon session and then went to the Dessalign Hotel for the official opening of the Civil Society Forum. There are eight to 900 participants. Many are from Africa as the Conference is in Africa. Yesterday afternoon Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon addressed civil society. He recognized that CSO’s speak on behalf of millions of people for a better world and his hope was that world leaders listen to our voice. He said that expectations are high but negotiations are difficult and the robust engagement and advocacy of CSO’s was required. He noted that the financial world is very complex but that this is the time for Global Action for people and planet ending abject poverty and caring for the planet. The Secretary General sees success in a tripartite relationship between Government, the Private Sector and Civil Society. If any of the three are missing then success is hampered. He reiterated ‘You are the voice of the people, make this world and its people sustainable.’
On a personal note, when I attended Eucharist yesterday (Sunday) the homily was very affirming of I being in Addis for this conference on behalf of Good Shepherd throughout the world. In Ethiopia, the liturgical year is a few weeks behind the Roman calendar so the readings and Gospel were the same as celebrated in Angers on the last Sunday of the Chapter (June 28th). The homilist spoke about social sin – exclusion, discrimination, accumulation, lack of reconciliation and forgiveness. He said we are all entangled in social sin and have responsibility for it. For me, making the links I felt that this was truly my mission here in Addis, on behalf of you all, during this week to confront this social sin of greed, growing inequality, continual gender inequality, exclusion, discrimination, lack of human rights, and lack of accountability. It was in the words of the direction statement ‘a movement of the Spirit impelling us (me) to respond with even greater urgency to the cry of our wounded world.’ Attending the Conference is one way ‘ to address global issues’ as enunciated in our chapter statement poverty, human trafficking, forced migration, refugees, gender inequality, violence towards women and children, and religious intolerance.’
As negotiations of the outcome document for Financing for Development is negotiated between now and Thursday evening we are hopeful that there will be consensus and agreement. We hope that the negotiations will truly tackle the structural injustices in the current global economic system. The document as it currently stands does not yet ‘rise to the challenges that that the world is currently facing. Some of the giant issues that need to be addressed are Debt, International Trade, Systemic Issues, private finance and domestic resource mobilization. Each of these is a big topic in itself. The CSO leadership are very expert in all areas and it is indeed heartening to witness their dedication in long hours of meetings, and writings and presentations. Equally, the Women’s Working Group for Financing for Development (WWG on FfD) is very active calling unequivocally for the human rights of women and girls in their own right as persons and not in the cause of ‘smart economics’ and profit. Unpaid care work is not addressed currently in the proposed outcome documents. There is mention of the issue of migration and human trafficking. Human Trafficking is addressed under illicit flows …. so money is the issue and not the people trafficked. But this is a systemic cause of human trafficking.
Much discussion is about the application of a human rights framework. Addressing the balance of power between the systematically significant countries and those that are not is what is making discussion so difficult. Another systemic issue is how to balance ‘the role of the state as duty bearer against the privilege of private capital, the benevolence of philanthropy and the ambiguity of multistakeholder partnership.’ (Realizing Women’s Human Rights in Development – Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development- June 2015 Friedrich Ebert Stiftung)
Ferew Lemma, our mission partner in Ethiopia is also attending the conference with me. It is a challenging time with no internet connection or Wifi. I am writing this from his office while the opening ceremony is taking place. It is a smaller version of the annual Commission on the Status of Women in New York each year. There are multiple side event in hotels adjacent to UNECA. Within ECA there is the plenary sessions, roundtable tables – morning and evening,- and of course the negotiations. We plan to attend a few side events in the afternoon – Social and Solidarity Economy, Financing for Development Justice, Girls in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (Name of the official document) and Mission Impossible: Development without Public Service.
Ferew has just brought in a TV to the office – the official opening is televised on local TV. I have some pictures on my phone but unable to transfer to this laptop.