The Sixth African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries Summit, being hosted by the Government of Ghana, was officially opened yesterday at the Accra International Conference Centre in the Ghanaian capital.
The four-day summit, on a broad theme of 'Promoting Human Security and Development', is aimed at reviewing the Millennium Development Goals and the Cotonou Agreement, trade agreement between the ACP countries and the European Union (EU). It will also discuss soaring food prices, high cost of fuel, climate change, the Economic Partnership Agreement as well as peace and security.
Opening the event, Ghana's President John Agyekum Kufuor, said the ACP countries are determined to empower their people to take advantage of the ever-increasing opportunities, saying it will help them integrate meaningfully into the world systems and impact positively on their development.
'The ACP wants a better life for all the people. Hence, the theme for this Summit 'Promoting Human Security and Development,' the President stated.
President Kufuor said human security is very paramount in any nation that wants better development and therefore, should focus on the youth and be nurtured into the mainstream of globalisation with competence and self-confidence.
He calls on the participants to deliberate on education, health care, communications and other pertinent arrears that can impact positively on the orientation of the people and society for balanced outlooks.
The President noted that there is the need for the economies of member states to be productive enough to support such social forces, adding that in turn, fair international trade systems should be in place to support such economies.
The Secretary-General of the ACP Group of States, Sir John Kaputin, observed that the recent events such as the global financial crises, food price hike, hurricanes and droughts orchestrated by climate change, attest to the fact that there is the need for high-level dialogues and concerted efforts among member countries so that better solution can be found to the challenges in order to ameliorate the impact on the people.
According to the Secretary-General, the summit is very crucial in that participants' collective wisdom is being sought on further directions that the ACP Group needs to take, as they embark on further endeavours to serve the people.
In 1975, the ACP group was born with 46 ACP States. Its constitution was then finalised with the ratification of the Georgetown Agreement of June 6, 1975 which defines the objectives of the ACP Group, its institutions and decision-making process.
The ACP Group has its own internal decision-making process and its joint bodies also interplay with EU institutions to take decision affecting all 79 ACP and 27 EU member states of the partnership. The ACP Council of Ministers ordinarily meet twice a year but special sessions are convened on a particular topic when the need arises.
The summit brought together about 1,500 participants from all the 79 ACP countries, including some Heads of State and Governments.