A forum to discuss the contribution of Civil Society Organizations to nation building, organized by the European Union Delegation to Ghana, has been held at the Dubois Centre in Accra.
The event was under the theme “Civil Society, a strategic partner for stability and governance in Ghana” and forms part of the EU’s framework on the “Good Human Rights Stories” initiative. The initiative is aimed at sharing good practices as well as enhancing cooperation on Human Rights issues. The forum therefore emphasized the role that civil society organizations play in promoting stable democracies for peace and development.
In his welcome address, the EU Ambassador to Ghana, Ambassador William Hanna commended the extent to which freedom of the press has been guaranteed in Ghana. He said, “Ghana is one of the few countries where one can make open declarations on the freedom of the press”.
He emphasized that; “the EU believes in sustained engagement with civil society organizations in line with the Cotonou Agreement which states that an empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system”.
His Excellency (H.E.) Stavros Lambrinidis, European Union Special Representative on Human Rights, who is on an official visit to Ghana, in an address said, although Ghana is not a paradise for human rights, successive governments have made enormous strides in guaranteeing these rights through effective collaboration with civil society organisations. “Ghana is a strong democracy with challenges and the European Union will provide the needed support to address these challenges”, he stated.
H.E. Lambrinidis stated that democracy does not end with the counting of the ballot. According to him, thriving democracies require strong, independent and self sufficient civil society organizations to protect and promote human rights and commended Ghana’s civil society organisations for their efforts so far.
The Minister for National Security, Hon. Albert Kan Dapaah who represented the Government, emphasized the critical role of civil society organisations in the democratic governance of the country. He said it is very important for the government of any country to be held accountable and there is no group that is better placed to do this than civil society organisations including the media. “The most important institution that can help us get governments to be accountable is civil society”, he emphasized.
As part of the forum, civil society organizations in Ghana shared their experiences including success stories and obstacles, the state of their interaction with Government institutions, whether their experiences can be replicated elsewhere and the way forward. They included; Basic Needs Ghana, Women in Law and Development, Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) Ghana, Ghana Integrity Initiative, The Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) and the Legal Resources Centre, Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) among others
The report on the forum will be presented during the Africa-EU Summit meeting scheduled for November in Abidjan.