Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to introduce to you once again, the Economic, Social & Cultural Council of the Africa Union (ECOSSOC). ECOSSOC was officially launched in March 2005 in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. I was elected the Presiding Officer to steer the Interim ECOSSOC Council that comprises of 153 members towards initiating an electoral process that will see each country represented in the General Assembly.
ECOSOCC, among other things, and in conformity with the objectives of the African Union seeks to promote continuous dialogue between all segments of the African People on issues concerning Africa, its future and forging strong partnerships between governments, the civil society, women, youth, children, the Diaspora, organized labor, private sector and professional groups. ECOSOCC is designed to promote and defend the culture of good governance, democracy, human rights and freedoms and social justice. It is also focused on fostering gender equality and youth representation.
From May 2005, I constituted an Ad Hoc Committee to assist me launch the ECOSOCC Kenyan chapter for purposes of preparing our country to participate effectively at the continental scene. Other members of the Interim Council will be launching initiatives to prepare their countries to elect representatives in 2007 to join ECOSOCC. This is going to be a continent-wide activity and I will be happy to get Kenyans leading the way in ensuring the success of this exercise.
Historically, the African Union then referred to as the Organization for African Unity (O.A.U.) was nicknamed the 'Presidents Club,' but the African Union's Maputo declaration changed all that. The ordinary African can now fully participate in the quest to facilitate African Unity and prosperity through a wide range of sectors.
ECOSOCC was mandated to establish National Coordination Mechanisms in each of the 53 members states for the purposes of popularizing ECOSOCC and electing of two (2) representatives to the ECOSOCC General Assembly in 2007. I therefore call upon Kenyan organized groups to join us on January 31, 2006 for a special general meeting to assist in setting up a National Steering Committee for Kenya. I invite organizations that target the following areas as per the ECOSOCC requirements: -
Social groups such as those representing children, youth, women, the elderly, and people with disability and special needs
Professional groups such as associations of artists, engineers, health practitioners, social workers, media, sports associations, legal professionals, social scientists, academia, national chambers of commerce, workers, employers, business organizations, teachers, industry and agriculture as well as other private sector interest groups
Non-governmental organizations, Community based organizations and voluntary organizations
I would like to take this opportunity to recognize other members working in the Interim ECOSOCC Assembly, who are (James Shikwati - Inter Region Economic Network, Mary Wandia - FEMNET). Our first National general meeting is being coordinated by volunteer organizations in the AD Hoc Committee that includes: Community Resources Initiative, Basic Rights Campaign, International Council of Jurists, 4Cs Trust, Kenya National Commission of Human Rights, the Media Owners Association represented by Capital FM & Radio Simba and the NGO Council.
Thank you very much and may we have a strong civil society in Africa
Hon. Prof. Wangari Maathai
Assistant Minister, Environment
Presiding Officer, Economic, Social & Cultural Council - African Union
Good Will Ambassador for the Congo Basin
2004 Nobel Peace Laureate
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