The Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development of the African Union Commission (AUC) will host the Eleventh Session of the AU Annual Humanitarian Symposium on 27 – 29 November 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya under the theme “Advancing Effective and Inclusive Humanitarian Action in Africa. The symposium will focus on strategic approaches to advancing effective and inclusive humanitarian action in Africa, in accordance with the collective commitments of the African Union Member States as encapsulated in the 2016 Common African Position on Humanitarian Effectiveness (CAP), the 2022 Malabo Declaration and the Global Compact on Refugees. The establishment of the African Humanitarian Agency as Africa’s Institutional pillar in responding to forced displacements and disasters on the continent gives effect to the centrality of African States in humanitarian action on the continent and marks a significant development in shaping Africa’s Humanitarian Agenda and Architecture.
In Addition, the AU has recently revitalized the discourse on the need to integrate humanitarian needs and displacement issues into national and local development plans as well as the need to anchor humanitarian action in appropriate inclusive strategies in order to promote effective and inclusive humanitarian action in Africa. In May 2022, an Extraordinary Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, which resulted in a Declaration setting out broad preventive and responsive actions to humanitarian crises in Africa and, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights has recently, on 2 August 2023, issued a Resolution on socio-economic inclusion of vulnerable persons in Africa.
The 11th Session of the AU Annual Humanitarian Symposium will indeed serve as a platform that promotes coordinated efforts, enhances local and national capacities, and strengthens partnerships to achieve sustainable humanitarian action across Africa.
The Annual Humanitarian Symposium was institutionalized in 2013 as a platform to bring together policy makers and practitioners from Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Donors, UN Agencies, African and International Humanitarian Organizations and other stakeholders including Think Tanks, Academia, Civil Society, Youth, Affected Populations, the Diaspora, Innovators, Social and the Private Sector and the wider global humanitarian community to discuss and review the state of humanitarian action in Africa.
Africa faces numerous humanitarian challenges due to armed conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics, and other emergencies. These crises often exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and inequalities. By fostering effective and inclusive humanitarian action, the continent can enhance response mechanisms, ensure equitable access to essential services, promote protection and resilience, and support the sustainable development goals.
The African Union has a crucial role in fostering effective and inclusive humanitarian action in Africa. With its commitment to addressing the diverse challenges faced by the continent, the African Union serves as a driving force in ensuring that the needs of African populations are met during times of crises and disasters. Therefore, the African Union has over the years taken positive steps and implemented a wide-range of measures to fill governance and policy gaps in tackling challenges of forced displacement and humanitarian situations in Africa. These measures, inter alia, include the adoption of pioneering normative and policy instruments, such as the 1969 OAU Convention on Refugees and the 2008 Kampala Convention on Internally Displaced Persons, to guide Africa’s humanitarian and social-economic transformation in line with its Agenda 2063. The AU has also adopted various measures to make its humanitarian response inclusive, effective, timely and fit for purpose. This includes the convening of the AU Extra-Ordinary Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference on 27 May 2022, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea and operationalization of the AfHA to pave the way for the future of humanitarian action in Africa. The Malabo Declaration established a new roadmap 2023 – 2032.
Evaluating humanitarian action has become vital for African decision-makers and humanitarian workers, who must implement reforms and establish framework policies to enhance humanitarian action on the continent.
Since the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Africa has faced numerous humanitarian crises, and the continental humanitarian landscape is evolving rapidly. Nowadays Africa is the region where 75% of humanitarian activities take place. The region has consistently confronted growing humanitarian crises, driven by persistent factors such as armed conflicts, poor governance, heightened effects of climate change, health disasters, and economic crises.
Across various regions of the continent, challenges to humanitarian action are increasingly becoming more and more complex with the need for humanitarian assistance rapidly increasing as capacity and access to aid show significant decline. In all of these regions, protracted and violent conflicts, drastic impacts of climate change, disasters, high food insecurity and extreme poverty as well as lack of good governance are some of the shared features characterizing factors underlying the dire humanitarian crises. Moreover, civilians continue to be overwhelmingly impacted by the challenging context under which humanitarian action is availed in the continent.
In order to effectively and efficiently respond to the growing humanitarian challenge of the continent, it is imperative to address the underlying causes and find sustainable solutions to existing and projected humanitarian challenges and forced displacement issues. This requires allocating resources, establishing institutional frameworks, and enhancing coordination mechanisms at the continental level to improve crisis prediction, prevention, and response. Additionally, building community resilience and adaptation is crucial. Challenges related to the adoption, implementation, and domestication of policy frameworks, as well as limited institutional mechanisms and linkages at continental, regional, and national levels, all contribute to significant obstacles in effectively responding to humanitarian crises on the continent.
These patterns and trends call for synergy of action from States, Regional Economic Communities, Local Communities, Civil Societies, Private Sectors, and all other stakeholders to deliver effective and inclusive humanitarian response in Africa. It is in this vein that the AU has decided to focus its 2023 humanitarian symposium on strategic approaches to advancing effective and inclusive humanitarian action in Africa in accordance with the collective aims and aspirations of African nations to enhance coordination, cooperation, and inclusivity in humanitarian action as encapsulated in the Common African Position on Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa (CAP), the 2022 Malabo Declaration and other AU policy frameworks. The Symposium will serve as a suitable forum to galvanize these aspirations and engagement in views to package an Effective and Inclusive Africa’s future humanitarian response.
The symposium provides the opportunity for Member States and all humanitarian actors involved in humanitarian action in Africa to discuss and exchange experiences and ideas on how they can better implement and support humanitarian action on the continent.
The following outputs are envisaged from the 11th Humanitarian Symposium:
- Proposals of strategies and immediate action for effective operationalization of the African Humanitarian Agency.
- Proposals for synergies, tools, and mechanisms for approach to providing an effective and inclusive humanitarian response in Africa.
- Proposals of inclusive approaches to humanitarian response in Africa
- Proposals of partnerships and identified resources necessary for improvement of humanitarian governance and response in Africa Socio-economic strategies and Policies.
- Common African Position (CAP) on Humanitarian Effectiveness
- The Common African Position on Humanitarian Effectiveness
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union (AU).