The African and European Left in Dialogue: Changes and Challenges

Venue: International Auditorium, European Trade Union House, Boulevard du Roi Albert II, No. 5 / 2; B-1210 Brussels
Organisation: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Brussels in cooperation with the Africa Department of Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Berlin
Languages: English/French

Contact: Roland Kulke,  Tel. +32-2-7387662

The official political relations between African and European governments are – despite all the rhetoric of "partnership" and "dialogue" – characterised by a deep asymmetry and severe dissonances. What is supposed to be a political dialogue on equal footing between equal partners is in reality too often a deceitful relationship of dominance and double standards. Moreover, the relationship between Africa and Europe is profoundly shaped by the traditional dichotomy of donors and recipients – within which "the hand that receives is always lower than the hand that gives" (African proverb).

After the "first wave of struggles for emancipation and an alternative to capitalism" (Amin) was spent at the end of the 20th century there is a pressing need to develop an new radicalism of the 21st century in order to surmount the dominating asymmetries in the current world order and to cope with the challenges of the future. In particular, the most recent multiple crises of the capitalist system – from finances to food and energy let alone climate change – have put the surge for alternatives back on the agenda. But "there is no feasible alternative that does not have a socialist perspective." (Amin)

Although a socialist alternative to capitalism seems to be more urgent than ever there are no easy answers to hyper-complex problems. Therefore, left and progressive forces (parties as well as movements and civil society organisations) need to embark on a process of consultations – a real dialogue – in order to identify strategies of transformation and to organise joint actions for social and political change.

With this intent the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation together with its partners in Africa (members of left parties as well as civil society activists) and in cooperation with the Left Party in Germany "Die Linke" (and its representatives in the national and the European Assembly) started to organise biennial encounters between left activists from Europe and Africa. The first Conference, under the title "Crises Politics – Politics in Crises" was held on the 27 June 2009 in Berlin. The second Conference will be organised by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Brussels and the African offices of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. This conference will take place between the 13th and the 15th of October in Brussels.

After consultations with some of the participants of the first conference and with various partners of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Africa as well as with members of the left groups in the German and the European Parliament the decision was taken to focus the second meeting on general processes of social transformation with specific regard to the socio-structural changes and the shifting role of the state. To engage with these processes we concentrate on the complex challenges in the areas of food (sovereignty), (bio)energy and climate change. These subjects will be dealt with from different perspectives and by relating them to the overarching issues of international trade policy, development & security ("securisation of aid"), democratisation and migration processes. Furthermore we want to debate the results of the North-African revolutions and their impact on the countries of the Sahel-Zone and Sub-Saharan Africa.

During the opening event Members of Parliament from Africa and Europe will give their views on popular democracy and national liberation in the light of the recent "revolutions" in the Maghreb-region.

A closing panel will in particular address the question "How to get rid of aid dependence and developmental paternalism – what kind of international cooperation and solidarity do we need?"
Conference Programme

Venue: International Auditorium, European Trade Union House, Boulevard du Roi Albert II, No. 5 / 2; B-1210 Brussels

Thursday, 13 October 2011
19:00 - 21:00 "... and now where to? The Left and the 'Arab Spring'", International Panel Discussion

Currently, Africa is at the beginning of a phase of major changes. In 2011, elections are taking place in 18 African countries. Two North African dictators have already been driven out of office from social movements. On the other hand, in the light of recent events in Ivory Coast, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea, we can speak of colonial efforts of Western powers and alliances in Africa to stabilize anti-democratic post-colonial state-models. Some of these Western states tighten their efforts to participate in the neo-colonial race by so-called “commodity partnerships,” one-sided trade agreements, arms sales, and military advisors.

In the panel discussion, we want to take the opportunity to discuss with the three invited discussants to talk about social movements and their objectives, the possible outcomes of upcoming elections and prospects for emancipatory developments in Africa.

With Samir Amin, Director of the Third World Forum in Dakar and President of the President of the World Forum of Alternatives; Sabine Lösing, Member of the European Parliament for the German "Die Linke", GUE/NGL; In the European Parliament, she is a Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Subcommittee on Security and Defence and she is also member of the Delegation for relations with South Africa of the European Parliament; and Rabiatou Diallo, Appointed President of the National Council of Transition Guinea and Secretary General of the National Confederation of Workers of Guinea

Friday, 14 October 2011

09:00 – 10:30 Opening
11:00 – 12:30 International Trade Policy: Development and Trade – taming the world market; strengthening local and regional co-operation
14:00 – 15:30 Economic Development: Sustainability – befriending the social and the ecological (in rural development)
16:00 – 17:30 Migration: The political economy of migration – escaping a direful future; searching for a better life

Saturday, 15 October 2011

09:00 – 10:30 Democratisation: The democratic challenge – Managing social change in favour of the people
11:00 – 12:30 Security Policy: Geo-politics, the military and aid – fighting a cataclysmic alliance
14:00 – 15:30 African awakenings: - daring to invent the future
16:00 – 18:30 Ending Aid Dependency: From aid and humanitarianism to solidarity and co-operation

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