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Maseru Communiqué: 18th Regional Meeting of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly

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18th REGIONAL MEETING (SOUTHERN AFRICAN REGION) OF THE ACP-EU JOINT PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY
 
Maseru, Lesotho
20 – 22 February 2020
 
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Maseru Communiqué
 
In accordance with Article 17 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement and Article 6 of the Rules of Procedure of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), parliamentarians from the Southern African Region of the ACP Group and their European counterparts met in Lesotho (Maseru), from 20 - 22 February 2020. Members expressed their gratitude to the National Assembly, the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho and His Majesty King Letsie III for offering to host this meeting and the steps taken to ensure its success;
 
Post-Cotonou negotiations
 
Members called for a strong parliamentary dimension in the future partnership and therefore requested that the institutional framework include a reinforced ACP – EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, which should have an efficient and effective function and format and should foresee a strong implementation mechanism for follow-up on the resolutions adopted;
 
Members reiterated their support for the European Parliament Resolution adopted on 28 November 2019 on the ongoing Post-Cotonou negotiations. They stressed the importance of the continuation and enhancement of partnership between the States of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific region on the one side, and the European Union on the other.
 
Members took note of the ongoing process of drafting a new comprehensive EU-Africa strategy and stressed that the contents of the strategy and text under the African Regional Protocol of Post-Cotonou should be complementary, consistent and coherent, in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals implementation and the Agenda 2063;
 
Youth and Unemployment
 
Members took note of the increased rates of unemployment, especially youth unemployment in the region and called for a strengthened public and private sector engagement in job creation. Members also called for the promotion of creativity and innovation for youth entrepreneurship with the necessary financial support, including through microfinancing programmes. They reiterated the importance of skills development as well as vocational education and training to meet societal needs and the needs of the national labour market.
 
Security and Stability
 
Members acknowledged that security threats are on the rise and will require a multidimensional approach at national and regional level, that encompasses increased regional cooperation as well as political and economic mobilisation of resources to address this phenomenon;
 
They recalled some of the key root causes of instability and security threats such as lack of accountability, contested electoral processes, poverty, unemployment, insecurity, the disruption of political harmony, the disruption of social cohesion, the lack of public responsibility, inequality, political extremism, lack of education, access to weapons, the continuous use of violence, and religious radicalisation. Members called for a reinforced dialogue with civil society representatives and religious leaders. They noted the need to sustainably manage natural resources and raw materials in a transparent and effective manner; in this framework, they stressed the need for access to quality education; they also underlined the link between climate change and security;
 
In particular, Members expressed concern at the rise of brutal terrorist attacks carried out by extremist groups in the North Eastern Mozambique province of Cabo Delgado;
 
Food insecurity, diseases and extreme climate events
 
Extreme Climate Events and rising food insecurity
 
Food insecurity remains a challenge in the region notably exacerbated by climate-related extreme events such as droughts, floods and erratic rains, as well as transboundary pests and crop diseases. Members underlined the urgent need to achieve a fair land distribution, to ensure food security by in primis cultivating food for local needs, as well as for export and to help local farmers with the participation of the banking sector through the use of microcredit and technical counselling. They also stressed the need for government subsidies for agriculture;
 
It was also noted that extreme climate events have resulted in reduced hydropower generation;
 
Members were informed of the importance of resilient value chains, and underlined the importance of promoting wider access to irrigation services in a way that is commercially viable. Members called for investment in water harvesting techniques through building of dams, avoiding settling people in low lying and river source areas, investment in solar energy. They also highlighted the importance of climate-smart farming to address food insecurity and adopt environmentally friendly and sustainable farming techniques. 
 
Climate change severely affects the Southern African region with extreme weather events. Members reiterated a strong call to honour the international climate commitments, such as the Paris climate agreements, and to urgently mitigate the global warming level. Members also noted with concern the irregular rain patterns in the region that lead to extreme weather conditions such as drought and increased frequency of frost and flooding;
 
Rise of tropical infectious diseases and of Sexually transmitted diseases
 
Members extensively discussed health – related issues facing the region, and focused especially on HIV and Tuberculosis and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR). Members commended the region for its efforts and the framework put in place to address health challenges in this regard.
 
Members wish to respond to the wishes of young people in Africa for the introduction of sexual education at schools that would limit the spread of sexually transmitted diseases; 
 
Members raised concerns regarding the risk of discontinuation of programmes when donor agencies’ funds have been exhausted, leaving the full responsibility to the individual countries. In the absence of a budget line from national budgets such programmes risk not receiving the attention required and therefore not having the impact expected and thus being unable to reach the individually set objectives. 
 
Members welcomed the work of SAfAIDS; an NGO operating in the SADC region advancing sexual and reproductive health rights and gender equality; and the Global Fund for the fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and their efforts to address health challenges in the region. 
 
Site Visit
 
Members visited a mobile clinic project at workplaces and a hospital for the treatment of multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis; Members commended Lesotho and EU co-funded partners for their excellent achievements;
 
Human Rights
 
The Assembly called for the development of effective strategies and legislation to fight against the scourge of human trafficking that affects the region, with a particular focus on the slave trade for the purposes of forced labour, farm and mining work, as well as on the harvesting of human organs; it also called on the European Union to offer technical and financial assistance for research, public education and training of members of the criminal justice systems;
 
Members also urgently underlined the need to fight the trade in albino body parts and trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation; 
 
Members called on the Co-Presidents to present the conclusions of the regional meeting to the 39th session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly to be held in Europe, in June / July 2020, and to forward them to the ACP Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament, the European Commission, regional economic communities in Africa, the Pan-African Parliament, the African Union Commission, the ACP Group of States, the Governments and National Parliaments of the Southern African region of the ACP Group of States and to the EU Member States.
 
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