The second g7+ senior official meeting of the year 2020 took place virtually on 22December 2020. The meeting was attended by Chair and Deputy Chair of g7+, Eminent Person of g7+, Deputy Minister for Budget and Development Planning of Ministry of Finance and Development of Liberia and focal points from 15 member countries. Deputy Director of the UN office of South South Cooperation (UNOSSC) was also invited. The objectives of the meeting were as below:
- Following the outcome of Ministers of Foreign Affairs meeting and to seek agreement on the work plan for 2021
- To identify how g7+ as a group can support transition in member countries
- To update members of the initiatives the g7+ secretariat has taken since the previous meeting
- The 2021 work plan was endorsed and members suggested that it be periodically reviewed.
- It was agreed that member countries (that have not ratified the charter) need to expedite ratification of the g7+ charter as per their national laws with the ambition to achieve progress by mid 2021.
- Noting the progress on peace and political transition in member countries such as Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, and South Sudan, the participants underlined the importance of peer learning.
Dr. Helder da Costa, General Secretary of the g7+ welcomed the participants and thanked the g7+ Chair, Deputy Chair, the Eminent Person, the special envoy and all focal points for their determination to advnce the vision of the group. Reminding the 10th anniversary of the g7+, he shared some of the major milestones including obtaining observer status at the UN, establishing the fragile-to-fragile cooperation and wider recognition of the group’s agenda. He thanked the government of Timor-Leste for its continuous assistance to the g7+.
H.E. Francis Mustapha Kai-Kai, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Sierra Leonne, Chair of g7+ in his opening remarks thanked the g7+ secretariat for organing the meeting. Recognising the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 in fragile states, he appreciated humanitarian and development support to member countries. Giving the long impact of COVID-19 that might last longer in fragile countries, he emphasized that member countries need to work in concerted partnership and pursue collective advocacy to help in mitigating the impact of the virus on fragile countries. Therefore, the members countries require to collaborate and operationalise observer status at the UN. The chair congratulated the people and government of Afghanistan and South Sudan for the progress made in peace process and political settlement. The g7+ take note of situation in DRC, Cote d’Iovire, Guinea, and CAR. He emphasized that g7+ members need to consolidate the group further and expedite the ratification process.
H.E. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, Eminent Person of g7+ in his remarks commended the g7+ for obtaining observer status at the UN. It shows how the g7+ has become even more relevant on global level to address conflict and fragility. He called on all officials of member states to do national outreach to promote peace in their respective countries. He also reminded everyone on the importance of ratification of g7+ charter. He congratulated Afghanistan for the peace process and political settlement in South Sudan, hoped to see more positive progress in the future.
Outcome of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs meeting and Update on g7+ collaboration with partners
Mr. Habib Mayar, Deputy General Secretary of g7+
Mr. Habib Mayar shared the outcome of the meeting of Ministry of Foreign Affairs that was held vitually during the 75th UNGA that include (1) call on international community to recognize the specific need of our member countries (2), commit to work together and optimize the opportunity to ensure visibility at the UN and (3) appreciate the government of Timor-Leste for the continue support to the g7+ and a call on members to contribute financially to g7+. While the existence MoU between g7+ and Timor-Leste expire on January 2021, the g7+ secretariat will not receive any financial grant from the Government of Timor-Leste in 2021. The secretariat and government of Timor-Leste are working on renewal of the MoU. The Government of Finland has pledged to provide some grant for the peer learning of the g7+.
Since the granting of g7+ an observer status, the g7+ secretariat has engaged with members and partners at the UN to promote the perspective of the group at the global agenda that include contributing to the review of Peacebuilding architecture and submitting the preliminary outcome of the study on the peacekeeping operation review (View from host countries and collarboating on MHPSS (Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS). The g7+ secretariat has actively raised how the pandemic has affected conflict affected countries. The g7+ secretariat co-hosted a session together with the g7+ WTO accession group during the WTO’s Trade for Peace week (30 Nov to 04 Dec 2020) to share how covid-19 has threatened peace and stability and adversely affected economic growth. During the session, members called for a need of flexible trade polices so that the World Trade system is inclusive and hence the vulnerable countries can participate with their potential.
The g7+ is working with the International Growth center that based in London School of Economics to issue a manifesto on access to electricity to the fragile and conflict affected countries. The manifesto that will be co-signed by members of council on fragility that summarizes key asks on enhance investment in energy sectors in fragile countries. The draft will be shared with the members to provide inputs. The g7+ secretariat has been in touch with the African Union and the Islamic Development Bank who have agreed to sign an MoU with the g7+ secretariat. The areas of focus will include advocacy and support for peer learning.
The chair and Eminent person suggested that we need to focus on how to expedite the process of ratification of charter by mid 2021. Given the impact of COVID-19, the financial contribution can further be discussed in the future once the situation return to normal. Ms. Neusa Raquel Costa Lima, Director of Planning, Administration and Finance of Sao Tome and Principe shared challenges faced during the COVID-19 and how with the support from all partners, bilateral and multilateral, the country managed to go through the pandemic. She said that Sao Tome and Principe government is considering for supporting the g7+ and this has been under discussion at the Ministry of Finance to include it in 2021 budget. H.E. Mrs. Tanneh G. Brunson, Deputy Minister for Budget and Development of Liberia informed that ratification of g7+ charter is on the process but this has been delayed due to the election and COVID-19. She hoped that by July, Liberia will consider financial contribution to g7+. Mr. Francisco Zacarias Costa Pereira, Technical Staff of Planning, Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Integration of Guinea Bissau expressed his awareness of the necessity of ratification, however since January, the country has faced lots of episodes of difficulties. The charter has been analysed at the Council of Minister, and is considered for ratification by sometime next year, 2021. Mr. Jesuino Alves, General Director of Multilateral, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Timor-Leste encouraged the increased participation of representative from Ministries of Foreign Affairs. Timor-Leste will have the discussion to extend the MoU with g7+ secretariat on financial contribution in the first 3 months of 2021.
Progress on Peace and Stability
- Afghanistan Peace Process
H.E. Abdul Habib Zadran, Deputy Minister of Finance of Afghanistan and Deputy Chair of g7+ update the peace process in Afghanistan. He thanked the g7+ for its active role in promoting peace and stability in conflict affected countries. Accordingly, the intra-Afghan peace talk will be resumed in Janury next year, the negotiating teams have taken a break. While hoping the process to result in ceasefire and ending of conflict, people are concerned with the increase in insurgency. The Government’s team of negotiation includes civil society and women. The Deputy Minister called on the g7+ group that experiences from other countries would be useful for Afghanistan and he hoped for support from g7+ in this regard.
2. South Sudan Peace Process
Ms. Aluel Margaret Machar, Assistant Inspector for Aid Coordination at the Ministry of Finance and Planning of South Sudan shared updates on the implemention of the peace agreement in the first quarter of 2020. The outcome of the agreement include agreement on the formation of transition government, led by President Salva Kiir, the President has appointed governors in number of municipalities and the Council of Minister has resumed the routine meeting. She informed that the overall security situation has improved while the country continues need for more humanitarian assistance. The transition in the last 3 months including plan to unify security forces has been smooth. However, the COVID-19 has affected the peace process. The impacts of conflict during the first half of 2020 in Junglei has resulted of 160,000 people being diplaced especially in May and June. Besides conflict, natural crisis such as flooding has also contributed to the displacing people. The country’s overall revenue has been affected due the drop in oil prices.
3.Cote d’Ivoire on Post Election
Mr. Zahanon Marcelin Cisse, Director General of Planning, Development and Coordination of Aid, Ministry of Planning and Development, Republic of Cote d’Ivoire updated on the political situation in Côte d’Ivoire after the election. He Informed that the opposition party boytcotting the election result on 31 October 2020 that caused violence. The the overall situation has improved since then. Last week the President of Republic promised for the reconciliation and also instructed Prime Minister to proceed with dialogue to resolve the political differences. Mr. Cisse called for support from g7+ in facilitating peer learning and sharing of experiences.
4.DRC Political Turmoil
Mr. Herman Kakule Mukululuki, Director of Coordination for External Resources, Ministry of Planning, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) shared updates on the political situationin DRC. After the election in December 2018, the largest political parties in the country agreed on a platform called track for change, that concluded with agreement on the coalition. However, two years later, there is a political stalment. In 15 December 2020, President of Republic announced a consultation with different level of communities in order to create new government and Parliament for the next 3 years.
The participants emphasized on the role of g7+ to contribute to the transition in these countries through facilitating peer learning. The Eminent Person of g7+ expressed his concern and griefes on what happened in South Sudan and asked South Sudan to continue promoting peace through dialogue. He insisted that communities and civil society organistions should talk to young people not to cause violence. He warned that with such a big population, crisis will cause even more suffering for the country. He expressed his hope that national reconciliation will continue in Cote d’Ivoite. Referring to Afghanistan, he hoped that the intra-Afghan dialogur will result in peace in the country. The Taliban and Government should recognize that national interest is dearer than the political interest of one party or individuals. He expressed his commitment that the g7+ will do anything it can to assist in peace process.
The Chair of g7+ recognized the challenges conflict affected counties face in conducting election. Accordingly, elections in fragile countries are not without troubles. The “winner takes all” mentality has been particularly the cause of post election crisis. He emphasized how experiences of other g7+ countries can be important to help.
Peer Learning through South South Galaxy (SSG)
Dr. Grace Wang Xiaojun, Deputy Director at the United Nations Office for South South Cooperation (UNOSSC) delivered a presentation on the South-South Galaxy, an avenue where countries can learn from one another. Recognizing the partnership between the UNOSSC and g7+, they have the platform to mobilzie support and to promote cooperation on peace and sustainable development through South South Galaxy that promote knowledge sharing and through technology. She informed that SSG connect and collaborate between south-south actors linking to 40+ organizations, 500 good practices and network of think tank from global south which can be utilized at all different levels. The UNOSSC provided an opportunity to promote the work of g7+ including on g7+ Parliamentary Assembly since the g7+ is registered on the SSG.
Participants highlighted the importance of connecting members to the global Knowledge and countries. They appreciated the partnership with the UNOSSC and recognized that potential of South South cooperation.The Deputy General Secretary of g7+ encouraged g7+ focal points to use the SSG and upload the individual experiences of their countries so that other countries can also learn from their experiences.
Workplan for 2021
Mr. Habib Mayar, Deputy General Secretary of g7+ presented the g7+ workplan for 2021 based on three strategic priorities that include (1) Policy Advocacy, (2) Fragile-to-Fragile Cooperation (F2F) and (3) Strengthening of g7+ that were agreed in the 5th Ministerial meeting. He provided the detail of activities under each of the priorities. Depsite the limitation caused by the pandemic, the g7+ will need to continue promoting its priorities. The g7+ will pursue its advocacy in the global debates on ‘building-back-better” (Reference the copy of the work plan)
The leadership and focal points endorsed the workplan for the year 2021. Recognizing the and limitation caused by the pandemic, the secretariat was reminded of the need of mid-year review of the workplan.