The first series of regional consultation meetings were held in 1999 in the five regions, each chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General, creating a mechanism for regular consultations among organizations of the United Nations system on their contribution to regional development. The subsequent regional consultation meetings were convened by the respective executive secretaries of the five regional commissions .
The third regional consultation meeting for Africa was held in October 2001 following the launch of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development by African leaders. At the meeting, it was agreed that NEPAD should serve as the framework for the United Nations system to improve its collective response to the challenges facing the continent. Subsequently, the General Assembly, in its resolutions 57/2 of 16 September 2002 and 57/7 of 4 November 2002, adopted NEPAD as the framework within which the international community, including the United Nations system, should concentrate its efforts for Africa’s development, and entrusted the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) with the responsibility to coordinate United Nations system-wide support to NEPAD at the regional and subregional levels through a special coordinating unit.
The declaration entitled “Enhancing United Nations-African Union Cooperation: Framework for the Ten-Year Capacity-Building Programme for the African Union” was an evolving framework for United Nations system-wide engagement with the African Union in addressing a wide range of issues, based on the African Union’s needs and strategic priorities. In its resolution A/61/L.70 of September 2007, the General Assembly requested an accelerated implementation of the declaration through RCM-Africa. The aim of the Programme was to enhance cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union in their areas of competence and in conformity with their respective mandates, by strengthening the capacity of the organs of the African Union and subregional organizations to act as effective partners of the United Nations.
Subsequently, in its resolution 61/296 of 17 September 2007, the Assembly called upon the United Nations system to support the African Union and its member States in their efforts to implement the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. It further requested the United Nations system to cooperate with the African Union and its member States in the implementation of appropriate policies for the promotion of the culture of democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and the strengthening of democratic institutions which will enhance the popular participation of the peoples of the continent in these issues, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Constitutive Act of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.
In Africa, coordination takes place at two levels:
1. UN agencies working in Africa and the AU and its NEPAD institutions hold annual sessions for coordination and consultation
2. Thematic Clusters established by the mechanism also meet in focus meetings.
In total, sixteen annual sessions of RCM-Africa have been held since 1999, but it was only after the seventh session, held in 2006, that the mechanism gained momentum in strengthening partnerships between United Nations entities and African regional and subregional organizations. A joint secretariat of the AUC and ECA is responsible for coordinating the meetings. Over the years, several internal and external assessments and evaluations of the mechanism have been undertaken with a view to improving its efficiency and effectiveness and strengthening the United Nations-African Union partnership.
The following are links to information about past annual sessions: