Workshop: Base the ‘living together’ in societies on shared values and principles

Context / problems

Traditional African society was supported by an ethical values system. Each individual was characterized by his role and responsibilities inside his family and community. These types of values still very present but the postcolonial African state functioning , the relationship to power, foreign hegemonic influence, huge migrations patterns, especially toward cities, confrontation with other cultures and individualism promoted by consumer society and concurrence have progressively eroded the common life system.

This situation is leading very often to public good disrespect, power positions abuse illustrated by corruption and current generations lacking concerns about their deeds impact on future generations.

The difficulty for rebuilding the living-together inside societies around shared values and principles and collective society project is one of the major of the struggle to construct politically stable societies, pacified social relationships between human groups (ethnic, clanic, religious, etc..) and prosperous economies. Though a community-value based institutionalization and consensus construction on fundamental functioning principles and societies management is a factor of progress.

States and regional integration organizations have set major steps toward implementing institutional and judicial mechanisms around the fundamental values and principles for managing societies. One can notice African Union example who chose to have a governance architecture including the shared values problem ruled by the collective responsibility principle (see 2011 summit, African charter for democracy, elections and governance) and ECOWAS who adopted many important texts of law that can be a common constitutional body for West African states (for example the additional protocol on democracy and good governance).

To enable these tools to play fully their role and lead to remarquable governance improvement, most of the continent countries should face many challenges such as :

  • Diversity regulation, especially the community diversity inside nations-states who have been built during independance era under national unity obsession ; this challenge is nowadays revealed by the isssue of Islam place in democratic processes in North Africa and some countries in Subsaharan Africa ;

  • The fight against counter-values promotion (absence of civic spirit, corruption, privatization of goods and public spaces, power patrimonialisation…) ;

  • To identify shared values that are structuring the living-together inside societies who are in permanent change and where evolution is correlated closely to open process of values globalization ;

  • Definition of better methods of accessing, exercising and limiting power inside societies.

Issues for discussions:

  • What are today shared values and common principles that enable the living-together inside African societies?

  • How can we invent rules based on these shared values that can satisfy contemporary but changing expectations of societies?

  • What are the more tailored tools to formalize and realize effectively such rules? A charter of responsibilities? Constitutions…?

  • How can we identify and mobilize traditional systems (values, principles and authorities) that can strengthen the living-togetherness?

  • What interest and place for national languages and endogenous and local knowledge for rebuilding the living-togetherness?

  • What are the suitable ways to put power in Africa in a more sustainable perspective of strengthening democracy, human rights respect, state rule of law and constitutionalism institutionalization?