STATEMENT BY AMB. MONICA JUMA, DPHIL, CBS, CABINET SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE, DURING THE OPENING SESSION OF THE 15TH REGIONAL MEETING (EAST AFRICAN REGION) OF THE ACP-EU JOINT PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY, NAIROBI ON APRIL 11-13, 2018, HOTEL INTERCONTINENTAL
- It is my distinct pleasure and honour, on behalf of the Government and the people of Kenya, to once again welcome you to Nairobi. We sincerely thank you all for choosing Kenya as the host for the Regional meeting of this distinguished institution. This Assembly takes place slightly over a year since Kenya was honoured to host what I believe was one of the most successful Parliamentary Sessions of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in December 2016. To fellow brothers and sisters from our sister and neighbouring countries, please feel free as Kenya is your second home ‘Karibuni Sana’.
Co-Presidents, Honourable Members,
- May I also take this opportunity to congratulate the ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly for keeping the spirit of the founders of the ACP Group of States nearly 43 years ago. We are at the crossroad, but yet momentous, availing a delightful opportunity to change the course of history in our long walk, for lasting impact on the millions of our people from this crucial partnership. In the discharge of the primary duty of representation, Parliaments have a heavy responsibility in reviewing the existing modality to respond better to our desires and collective aspirations, in a diligent and open manner for the ultimate benefit to our populations.
- At this juncture, allow me to share a few thoughts on this special relationship, anchored on our shared historical ties, starting with what is currently top of the agenda; the future of our partnership post-2020.
- First, most of us will agree that the benefits of the ACP-EU partnership are enormous and that these must provide the foundation for our future cooperation. We are also convinced that the spirit of the Georgetown Agreement is still alive today as it was 43 years. Therefore, the ACP must remain solid and mutually beneficial as envisaged by our forefathers after the expiry of the current arrangement in 2020. As we commence the discussions on the future framework in the next few months, what should occupy our minds is how to make the cooperation better and stronger cognizant of the Global Agenda and also the aspirations of our people.
- Both the ACP and the EU are engaged in both formal and informal discussions on this important subject, and some of the proposals, to some extent, are convergent of the reality that we must build on the gains made. From the African standpoint, it is clear that going forward, Africa should be treated as one indivisible unit but within the existing ACP framework, with economic and political integration prioritized in accordance with Agenda 2063. Above all, it is imperative to maintain the acquis including the key Joint Institutions such ACP-EU Summit, Council of Ministers, Ministerial Trade Committee, among others and also consider the introduction of the ACP-EU Foreign Affairs Ministerial Committee. This will enhance and build upon existing partnership, mutual respect, and to augment a mechanism that would ensure the structural transformation of our economies and inclusive growth, poverty eradication, peace and security and sustainable management of the environment and natural resources.
- Some of these critical elements were not included in the Cotonou, but have now become even more relevant in international cooperation. It is our desire that due consideration will be accorded to these critical issues including Energy, Technology and innovation in agriculture etc as we deliberate on our future.
- But most important to this August house is the inclusion of political dialogue in the Cotonou Partnership Agreement. We are aware that the question of political dialogue and the role of non-state actors were not explicit in the successive Lome Conventions. While I commend the Assembly for its commitment and enhancement of political dialogue, it is my conviction that in the future arrangement, this pillar must be restructured, made more transparent and responsive to the peculiarities of the individual member states. Kenya therefore fully supports the adoption of Political Dialogue and Advocacy by the 105th session of the ACP Council of Ministers as one of the three strategic pillars for a reformed mandate of the ACP. Parliament is, therefore, more entrusted to play a critical role in deepening political dialogue and advocacy. The role of the ACP/EU JPA as the platform for political dialogue should be enhanced beyond its mere consultative status. The JPA will be required to provide a more active role in monitoring policy development in relation to political dialogue and advocacy. In its efforts to achieve the above, there is need to complement its work with that of the regional parliamentary bodies.
Co-presidents, Honourable Members,
- Turning to our eastern Africa region, statistics indicate that out of the twelve (12) poorest counties in Africa, five (5) are from this Region. This is a worrying phenomenon which calls for more concerted efforts at regional and international levels with a view to finding sustainable solutions. The region has a fragile eco-system experiencing recurrent drought and floods and ultimately food shortage which has a setback in the fight against poverty. The situation continues to manifest itself in political instability, and frequently resulting in displacements, refugees and crime.
- Some of these challenges can, however, be forestalled with an increased focus on the socio-economic development of the region. Your choice of the issues for discussion, which I am informed include trade, investment and private sector development, energy and infrastructure and food security, tourism and wildlife management, is timely. The ongoing regional integration initiatives at EAC, COMESA, Tripartite and IGAD including intraregional trade, investment and infrastructure development must also remain on course and accelerated. Therefore, our relations with the European Union and other development partners should not disrupt the integration agenda, but rather should positively complement the efforts.
Let me conclude by emphasizing that peace and security is, and will continue to be an important and critical parameter in the socio-economic and sustainable development of our region. Insecurity remains a major stumbling block to our efforts, both at national and regional levels in our drive to fulfill our development priorities, fanned inter-communal conflict threaten political stability, offers safe haven to terrorism, drug trafficking, piracy, and other transboundary crimes. The role of the EU and the regional efforts to this end has been remarkable. The work is however far from over and more still needs to be done both at the regional and international level.
Co-presidents, Honourable Members,
- Regarding climate change and environmental governance, I wish to commend the ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly for the unequivocal stand you have maintained on the issue. Going forward, therefore, it is our desire that you utilize every available opportunity, including through national legislation to ensure our planet is protected for posterity, while at the same time remaining firm with the rest of the international community on the commitment to secure our future. In our region, our natural assets which are the backbone of our economies – are already under serious stress – be it from pollution, deforestation, water scarcity and climate change which have a disproportionately negative impact on the poor and the vulnerable in the society.
Co-presidents, Honourable Members,
- Finally, I once more take this time to wish you fruitful deliberations over the next three days as you set the regional path on some of these critical issues in our relationship and also at the regional level.
- Whereas the task ahead of you is immense, I would encourage each of you to take some time out to explore the beauty of Nairobi and Kenya in general and sample what our country has to offer.
Co-Presidents, Honorable Members, distinguished guests
- It is now my singular honour and privilege to officially declare the 15th Regional meeting of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, open.
I thank you