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Social Development on Southern African Development Community meeting onAfrican Regional Social Policy

24 Nov 2006
Conclusion of the high level meeting of Ministers responsible
for Social Development in the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
region, to deliberate on the development of an African Regional Social
Policy

24 November 2006

Ministers responsible for Social Development in the SADC met in Johannesburg
on 23 to 24 November, for a dialogue on the development of a Regional Social
Policy, in the context of the African Union's (AU) New Partnership for Africa's
Development (NEPAD).

The dialogue was organised by the United Nations Department of Economic and
Social Affairs (UNDESA), in co-operation with the Government of South
Africa.

The session was attended by Ministers as well as senior officials from
Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique,
Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The meeting noted previous interaction and recalled in particular, the
following milestones:

* The meeting during 1999 and 2000 of SADC Ministers responsible for social
development, to discuss the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit
for Social Development. The meeting culminated in the SADC Statement of Intent
on Copenhagen +5, held in Geneva during 2000. The Copenhagen Summit came up
with a programme for social development, which culminated in the Millennium
Development Goals.
* The SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), launched in
2004, which covered Social and Human development as one of the core areas of
co-operation. In 2004 in preparation for the Ten Year Review of the
Implementation of the Copenhagen Commitments, the Ministers responsible for
social development committed to an ongoing co-ordinated approach to tackling
and promoting social development by promoting continental dialogues focused on
integrated poverty eradication strategies, social integration and full
employment.
* The Ministerial meeting, hosted by South Africa, in partnership with United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), in November
2004. The meeting recommended to the Integrated Committee of Ministers to
approve the establishment of a forum for SADC Ministers responsible for Social
Development in line with the amended SADC Treaty Article 12 (paragraph
2.1).
* The third ordinary session of the AU Labour and Social Affairs Commission, in
April 2005 in Johannesburg, in which delegates represented by Ministers of
Labour and Social Affairs agreed that a detailed discussion, led by African
Ministers responsible for Social Affairs should have an intensive discussion on
the Social Policy Framework for Africa. This decision was reiterated at the
fourth ordinary session in Cairo, April 2006.

The Ministers appreciated the opportunity to meet again to take the dialogue
forward, and discussed wide-ranging issues, including the following:

* employment and decent work
* social protection
* cross-border issues in health, disaster prevention/management, and social
regulation of services
* mainstreaming gender and social groups in development (children, youth, older
persons, persons with disabilities)
* human rights and empowerment issues
* the impact of HIV and AIDS.

They highlighted the following issues:

* That despite recent positive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth
performance in many African countries, the continent continues to battle with
poverty, unemployment and social exclusion.
* The social challenges facing the region have a high human and capital
cost.
* Regional social policy should be based on the understanding that economic and
social development cannot be divorced from each other, and that both are
critical for comprehensive and sustainable development.
* The need to expand the focus of NEPAD action plans towards an inclusion of
social development imperatives over and above governance and economic
issues.

Informed by the extensive discussions, the Ministers:

* reaffirmed their commitment to work together to promote accelerated social
and economic integration and development of the African continent, which will
lead to greater unity and solidarity between African countries and
peoples
* confirmed the need for a regional social policy that will equip the SADC
region to tackle social development challenges
* underscored the importance of working within the parameters of SADC and the
AU, and highlighted the importance of the current development and finalisation
of a continent-wide Social Policy Framework by the AU
* resolved to mainstream social development and the social policy dimensions of
NEPAD into the SADC regional action plans, and promote this process to
colleagues in other regions
* welcomed the involvement of the international community in African
development programmes and plans, in particular the United Nations family,
European Union, World Bank, several global funds and institutions, and urged
continued partnerships and co-operation
* emphasised the need for the continuation of the dialogue, and the development
and adoption, without any delay, of an implementation plan that would lead to
consensus on a Social Policy Framework for the SADC region, in line with the
AU's Draft Social Policy Framework for Africa.

With regards to the promotion of the rights of women and children, the
Ministers:

* noted the important day of 25 November, the International Day of No
Violence against Women and Children, and the International campaign of 16 Days
of No Violence against Women and Children, which begins on 25 November and ends
on 10 December, International Human Rights Day
* committed themselves to ensuring the development of social policies that
would protect the rights, status as well as safety and security of women and
children in the SADC region.

At the conclusion of the cordial and productive dialogue, the Ministers and
delegates:

* extended their gratitude to South Africa, in particular the Minister of
Social Development, Dr Zola Skweyiya for co-hosting the event and for the warm
hospitality extended to the delegates
* thanked Dr Sergei Zelenev and the UN Department of Economic and Social
Affairs for their key role in the organisation and co-hosting of the meeting,
and requested continued partnership and support in taking the process
forward.

Enquiries:
Lakela Kaunda
Tel: (012) 312 7653
Cell: 082 782 2575
E-mail: Lakela.Kaunda@socdev.gov.za

Issued by: Department of Social Development
24 November 2006
Source: Department of Social Development (http://www.socdev.gov.za)

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