6th Informal Nordic-African Foreign Ministers Meeting

Chairman’s summary

Ministers of foreign affairs from the five Nordic and from ten African countries (Benin, Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania) met in Oslo on 19–20 March 2007 for the 6th Informal Nordic-African Foreign Ministers Meeting. The ministers discussed the following items: peace and security challenges in Africa, climate change and UN issues. The discussions were frank and open and resulted in operational conclusions on how this group of countries can cooperate to address these critical challenges.

Peace and security challenges in Africa
There was agreement on the key role of the AU in preventing and resolving conflicts in Africa. The importance of improving coordination and cooperation between the UN/UN Security Council and the AU/AU Peace and Security Council was highlighted.

The fight against the proliferation of small arms, light weapons and land mines was seen as an urgent issue. The importance of introducing a ban on cluster munitions was also underscored.

Deep concern was expressed over ongoing conflicts and crises, such as — but not limited to — those in Darfur, Somalia and Zimbabwe. The genuine willingness of countries in the African region to find solutions to these challenges was welcomed. At the same time, it was stressed that support from the international community is required.

Operational follow-up: Norwegian ambassadors to the UN in New York and Geneva will convene the group of countries participating in this meeting to establish a forum for informal consultations on issues of relevance. The first issue to be discussed in this group could be how to reinvigorate the efforts to fight the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

Climate change
Climate change is a global concern and presents enormous challenges to all countries. It is an issue that unites Nordic and African countries as equals. However, although Africa has hardly contributed to the emissions that are causing climate change, the continent will be most severely affected by the adverse effects of this serious problem. Furthermore, African countries have limited resources and this challenges their ability to adapt to climate change. Still, if there is sufficient international political will, solutions can be found.

Main points raised by African countries include: (1) Africa’s need for assistance to adapt to climate change, (2) Africa’s need for transfer of clean technology and for human resources development and capacity-building (3) The large emitters must make the most significant emission reductions.

Africa’s right to development was highlighted by both African and Nordic countries. African countries should be enabled to leapfrog technology development and get access to clean and green technology. New mechanisms for the transfer of such technology should be developed.

Operational follow-up: (1) It was agreed that a task force on Nordic/African cooperation should be established with a view to identifying Africa’s needs in terms of adapting to climate change and acquiring clean/green technology. Denmark will present a concrete proposal for the establishment of such a task force. The task force should report to the next informal Nordic-African foreign ministers meeting. (2) The Nordic development cooperation ministers will be encouraged to consider mainstreaming measures to address climate change into development cooperation programmes.

UN issues
It was agreed that African and Nordic countries should make a common effort to move UN deliberations forward, with a particular focus on Africa’s needs, to complement the processes in New York.

Reforms to strengthen the UN should be high on the common agenda. Strengthening of human rights, peacebuilding capabilities and resources, economic and social issues, and equitable geographical representation are of common interest to Nordic and African countries.

The follow-up of the proposal presented in the “Delivering as One” report should focus on increasing real national ownership of UN programmes in each country, enhancing coherence and securing alignment of priorities. African and Nordic countries are major stakeholders in this process.

The Nordic and African countries agreed that there is a strong need for increased African representation on the UN Security Council, and they will continue the dialogue with the aim of finding a permanent solution.

The Nordic and African countries will continue consultations on how to improve the working methods of the Human Rights Council.

The African and Nordic countries discussed the draft UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples, but had different approaches to the issue. Several African countries expressed serious reservations about the draft. The group will continue to exchange views on this issue in an open and inclusive manner.

Operational follow-up: The UN ambassadors of the countries participating in this meeting (see above) should also jointly consider relevant UN issues beyond the peace and security agenda. One of the first issues to be addressed should be the potential for improving the working methods of the Human Rights Council. 

Next meeting
Botswana graciously offered to host the 7th Informal Nordic-African Foreign Ministers Meeting in 2008.