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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia,  (African Press Organization)/ —

The Citizens and Diaspora Directorate (CIDO) of the African Union Commission has completed high level discussions with representatives of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and the Caribbean Pan African Network (CPAN) on critical areas to strengthen the relationship between the African Union and the African Diaspora community in the Caribbean.  The tripartite meeting – held on December 4-6, 2015 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago – was held against the backdrop of the ongoing process between the African Union and CARICOM to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two organizations. Strengthening the AU-Caribbean Diaspora Relationship: Diaspora Summit.

Representatives from CIDO, CPAN and CARICOM exchanged ideas on key modalities for strengthening the already vibrant relationship between the African Union and African Diaspora Community in the Caribbean. The meeting also discussed opportunities and mechanisms for establishing an institutional relationship framework of engagement between the AU and CARICOM in order to advance the implementation of the African Union Diaspora Initiative in the Caribbean region.

Dr. Jinmi Adisa, Director of CIDO, congratulated CPAN for its successful diaspora engagement program in the Caribbean region following the Global Diaspora Summit of 2012. The Director acclaimed CPAN as an exemplary African Diaspora regional network and a model to be replicated in other regions of the world. He further stressed the need to establish structures that will enable the effective implementation of the objectives of the Global Diaspora Summit; and highlighted the creation of new technical desks within CIDO specifically to engage with various regions of the world, including the Caribbean.

Mr. David Commissiong, President of CPAN, stressed that a key role of the organization was to serve as a bridge between the two intergovernmental structures of the African Union and CARICOM in order to foster the realization of concrete developmental objectives. He further emphasized that this facilitative role was even more important and timely in view of the launch of the UN Decade of People of African Descent. He commended the African Union for its support to CPAN and called for continued cooperation toward the establishment of institutional linkages within the Caribbean community. The meeting launched a consultative process leading to potential joint initiatives to be undertaken by the AU, CARICOM and CPAN within the context of the UN Decade of People of African Descent.

The meeting discussed a number of mechanisms to be submitted for CARICOM and AU consideration in order to establish an institutional relationship in support of the African Union Diaspora Initiative. These included the creation of an African Union Desk at the CARICOM Secretariat; the mutual deployment of official diplomatic staff to both organizations; and outreach to CARICOM Prime Ministers and Ministers of Government to establish support for an AU/CARICOM/ CPAN Initiative within the context of the Declaration of the Global African Diaspora Summit.

High-level Caribbean diplomatic officials, including  Nasr Escobar, former Emeritus Counsel General of CARICOM and Ambassador Patrick Edwards, former Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago to the African Union,  welcomed these initiatives and pledged to guide the process for the establishment of an informal working group mechanism comprising representatives of the AU, CARICOM and CPAN to oversee the implementation of the meeting outcomes.

The meeting also discussed mechanisms for diaspora participation in AU ECOSOCC; in adherence to the statutes of ECOSOCC which allocate 20 out of the 150 seats in the General Assembly to the African Diaspora. These discussions led to a commitment from CPAN to present, within the short term, a set of recommendations to facilitate the selection of diaspora representatives into the General Assembly and Cluster Committees of ECOSOCC. In view of CIDO’s role as the Secretariat of ECOSOCC, Nasr Escobar who serves as the Ambassador the The African Union and oversees investment in the Diaspora Division shed more light on the structure and processes of African Union Diaspora Initiative and invited CPAN to accelerate the process of sensitization and coordination that would allow the full participation of Caribbean civil society stakeholders in the activities and processes of the organ.

The CIDO delegation was led by Dr. J Adisa, Director, and included Mr. A.Elbasheer, Head of Diaspora Division, and Mr. Kyeretwie Osei, Desk Officer for the Americas and Caribbean.

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