Things Will Be Much Better If Diplomacy Is Left To Work - Anna Bossman
Elegantly dressed in a mulit-coloured African print attire, with a scarf hanging on her shoulder, Anna Bossman, appears relaxed as she sits down for a chat at the Jeune Afrique headquarters in the south of Paris. A few days prior, on 13 October, the Ghanaian diplomat was one of 20 ambassadors to have presented their credentials to France’s President Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace, giving her the formal recognition as Ghana’s ambassador to France.
That meeting happened during a crucial moment, she recalls excitedly, as the heated election for a new UNESCO Director-General was taking place less than 5km away. “It was really tough because you probably know that the strong contenders were Egypt, Qatar and France,” says Bossman, who is also Ghana’s ambassador to Portugal and the Permanent Delegate of Ghana to UNESCO, OECD and La Francophonie. Eventually France's candidate Audrey Azoulay and a longtime supporter of President Macron was declared winner, lightening the tense atmosphere: “Macron was smiling, I was smiling, and he was in a great mood,” she adds.
The Ghana-trained diplomat is not new to France, and the Villa Saïd building in the affluent 16th district of Paris where the embassy is located holds fond memories. “I'm actually sitting at his desk,” she says of her late father, Dr. Jonathan Emmanuel Bossman, who served as Ghana's Ambassador to France between 1964 and 1967 and was the country's first ambassador to the Maghreb region.
Her time growing up in France with her father explains her good command over the French language, which she borrows from occasionally to better drive home certain points during the meeting.
She recounts a particular incident in the 1960's in Paris when as a child she had her first encounter with racism. She was hanging out with a French female friend at the popular Monceau park when they overheard two young boys making derogatory terms about black people.
Her friend immediately jumped to her defense. “She got up and she was going to fight them, and I remember she told them off, which gave me the courage to also tell them, 'What do you have against blacks?',” she shares of that day. She says that experience sparked an interest in protecting the rights and freedoms of others, something she had never thought of before that day.
Now a prominent human rights lawyer and ardent anti-corruption activist, Bossman has been the Director of Integrity and Anti-Corruption (IACD) of the African Development Bank Group since July 2011. Prior to this appointment, she served as Deputy Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in Ghana from 2002 and subsequently as Acting Commissioner from 2004 to 2010.
During her time at CHRAJ she handled several high-profile cases, some involving key members of the ruling party at the time. “I investigated [then President John Agyekum] Kufuor's son and I investigated one or two of his ministers who were forced to resign,” she shares. She has won numerous awards for her work, including being decorated Officier dans l’Ordre National du Merite, conferred by the French government in May 2007.
She is proud of her work at Ghana's state anti-corruption body but bemoans the organisation’s inability to initiate its own investigations without a referral. “That was something that we took to the Supreme Court [to change], we did not agree with the Supreme Court, and I still don't agree with the Supreme Court,” she says vehemently, with reference to one of the judges’ dissenting decision.
On Morocco’s application to join the West African regional body ECOWAS despite being in North Africa, Bossman says as far as Ghana is concerned, it’s the right thing to do. Personally, she also has a connection to the Kingdom: “My father was the ambassador to Morocco a long time ago, he presented his credentials to the father of the King. So Ghana has had long relations with Morocco and therefore I do believe that we will continue that,” she says.
With regard to Brexit and the rise of nationalism in Europe, she says the negative impact on negotiations will be minimised if political constraints don't become diplomatic constraints. "I think if diplomacy is left to work things will be much better. I think that it's very difficult when there is a lot of noise around," she explains.
Having previously expressed her disinterest in politics, Bossman seems to have fully embraced her ambassadorial role, eager to learn and to further strengthen France-Ghana relations. After her meeting with President Macron, she met with the Ghanaian community in France for the first time a day later, outlining her plans and priorities, as well as her commitment to be accessible to all.
Building on her long history with the nation of France, it remains to be seen now how this new ambassador who is following in her father’s footsteps, will make a difference and prove she's worth her salt
Read the original article on Theafricareport.com
GHANA TO HOST 2018 WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY
Ghana is expected to host the 2018 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD). The two-day event, 3rd to 4th May, 2018, will bring together leading actors from the media, civil society, policy makers, representatives of the judiciary and academia, to discuss latest developments and pressing challenges related to press freedom and the safety of journalists. The event, which will be organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will be partnered by the government of Ghana. The 2018 edition of the World Freedom Day will be on the theme: “Media, Justice and the Rule of law”.
It is the fourth time that the global celebration of WPFD will take place on African soil – 27 years after the Windhoek Declaration on free, independent and pluralistic media was adopted, and later endorsed by UNESCO’s General Conference.
The main celebration in Accra is expected to be reinforced by some 100 national events the world over.
Speaking to the media on a brief visit to Ghana, Irina Bokova, the Director General of the UNESCO, called on government to focus on giving citizens much more access to information. This she said would quicken Ghana’s ability to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“I’m very excited that Ghana extended an invitation to host [the World Press Freedom Day] next year, on the 3rd of May. We know that people need to be informed in order to take the right decisions, and also because we consider that this is not just a human right but it is vital for sustainable development, and that when we speak about the implementation of the agenda 2030 for sustainable development where UNESCO is the lead agency in education, we work a lot in social inclusion, in gender equality, in youth development, skills for young people, but also goal 16 which is about strong institution, inclusive and just societies.” “I would say overall journalism plays a huge importance, and UNESCO is very much looking forward to the next World Press Freedom Day here in Ghana,” she added.
Ambassador of Ghana to UNESCO, Anna Bossman, also said Ghana’s acceptance to host the event “demonstrates her commitment to the promotion of press freedom within our national territorial boundaries, the African continent as a whole, and the global community in general.” Ghana and the Right to Information Bill This comes on the back of pressure on government to pass the Right to Information Bill (RTI), which has been in Parliament for well over a decade now.
The RTI Bill is a fundamental human right guaranteed by Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights.
The Bill is expected to give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution, which states that “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society”. It was drafted in 1999, and reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007. The first attempt at enacting the law on the right to information was made when the Bill was presented to Parliament on February 5, 2010.
The Attorney-General on June 25, 2015, moved the Bill for the second reading, but could not be passed by the previous Parliament.
Meanwhile, the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, had earlier promised that government will facilitate the passage of the Bill. “Our government has already made it clear that we will be passing the Right to Information Act. We will make sure a special prosecutor’s office is set up to prosecute corruption, and we will amend the criminal code to move corruption from a misdemeanor to a felony. These are just some of the actions we intend to implement this year,” Dr Bawumia said.
– By: Michael Ogbodu/citifmonline.com/Ghana
GHANA INAUGURATES A NEW PRESIDENT
Accra, 7th January 2017
Ghana has successfully sworn in Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the 5th President of the 4th Republic of Ghana at the historic Independence Square. Dr Mahamudu Bawumia was also sworn in as his Vice President.
His Excellency Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) won 53.8 percent of the total valid votes cast during Presidential and Parliamentary elections held on the 7th December 2016.
In his inaugural speech, the new President stated that he is in the unique position to draw from the lessons of three former ex-Presidents namely; John Dramani Mahama, John Agyekum Kufuor and Jerry John Rawlings, who represent the continuation of Ghana's thriving democracy.
The 72-year-old Lawyer also charged Ghanaians to be active citizens in the change process and not spectators. He stated, "the change can and should start now. I urge you to be citizens, not spectators, citizens, not subjects, responsible citizens building our communities and our nation. Let us work until the work is done.” On the role of the private sector, President Akufo-Addo stated, “we are indeed counting on a vibrant private sector to drive growth and create jobs.” He further stated that his government “will stimulate the create juices of innovators, we will bring to life the adventurer in you. It is time to emerge and to dream again, it is time to try that business idea again.”
For potential investors and trade partners, the new President underlined the fact that his government will reduce taxes to recover the momentum of the Ghanaian economy. President Akufo-Addo underlined the fact that the doors of Ghana are open again and that this is the best time to manufacture and sell in the country.
The ceremony was attended over 15 African Heads of State including His Excellency Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, who was also the special Guest of Honour. In his address, the Ivorian leader urged Ghanaians to enviously protect the country’s democracy. He further explained that democratic governance leads to a peaceful nation building, a pre-requisite for eventually sustainable economic development.
Also in attendance were other dignitaries and heads of state from all over the world including the French Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Mr Jean-Marie Le Guen, who represented President Hollande.
His Excellency Akufo-Addo served as the Member of Parliament for the Abuakwa South Constituency of the Eastern Region from 1996 to 2008. He also served Ghana as the Attorney General and then as Foreign Minister in Former President John Agyekum Kufuor’s NPP government from 2000 to 2008.
His Excellency William Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is the son of *Edward Akufo-Addo, the former President of Ghana (Ceremonial 1969 to 1972). His father also served as Chief Justice from 1966 to 1970.
*He was a Ceremonial President because Executive powers were vested in Prime Minister during the Second Republic.
AMBASSADOR SVANIKIER'S FAREWELL MESSAGE TO THE GHANAIAN COMMUNITY
FAREWELL MESSAGE TO THE GHANAIAN COMMUNITY
AMBASSADOR JOHANNA ODONKOR SVANIKIER
Dear Ghanaian Sisters and Brothers in France,
Happy New Year! I wish to inform you that my tour of duty as Ambassador of Ghana to France and Portugal and Permanent Delegate of Ghana to UNESCO, La Francophonie and the OECD Development Centre has come to an end. Unfortunately, due to my constrained and heavy schedule, I am unable to see you to say goodbye before I leave. During my time in Paris, I have had the privilege to meet many of you at some of the activities organised by our Mission. I hope to return to visit France someday and to meet more of you. To those who sent me kind messages, gifts and cards during my stay in Paris I would like to once again say thank you! I wish to acknowledge the hard work, cooperation, warmth and loyalty of those of you with whom I was fortunate enough to work and interact with. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours!
During my duty tour in France, despite severe financial constraints we developed a world class Embassy of Ghana website for the Mission where there was previously nothing at all and introduced an online application system for visas. Internal and external communications at the Embassy have greatly improved with the public now having the opportunity to communicate directly with the Embassy through a dedicated email address. There are plans in motion to continue modernising our consular services and improve service delivery to the public.
Both National Days during my tenure have been filled with joy, camaraderie and exciting experiences with Ghanaian food fairs, made in Ghana products, a fashion show, the Winneba Youth Choir and lots of traditional and contemporary singing, drumming and dancing. This year Ghana will celebrate its 60th Independence Anniversary and the Mission has plans to continue the trend of a creative and fitting celebration for such an important landmark. There will also be an African Diaspora Homecoming Conference organised in Accra under the patronage of UNESCO to celebrate this landmark event. You may access the website for registration at http://destination-ghana.org. Brussels Airlines is offering 20% off their fares to participants and I am delighted to inform you that following a series of discussions with Air France from the time I first arrived in Paris they have finally decided to commence direct flights to Accra this year. Their maiden flight will be on the 28th of February.
During my time in Paris the Mission organised four Presidential visits in the space of one year and the Ghanaian Community participated in events surrounding some of these visits. At UNESCO we raised money from the private sector for a project to teach girls computer coding in Ghana, we partnered in the TeachHer project in Addis Ababa where six Ghanaians participated in training and we made significant progress in working to add more sites in Ghana to the World Heritage List. We opened offices at UNESCO and successfully campaigned for Ghana to be a member of the Executive Board at UNESCO. Our Parliament also ratified the seven UNESCO Cultural Conventions last year. Ghana was admitted to membership of the OECD Development Centre a year after my arrival in Paris following productive discussions with the Centre. We held a reception for the James Barnor Photo Exhibition and brought his work to the attention of the Ghanaian government and people resulting in him receiving a National Award from His Excellency John Dramani Mahama last year.
We took a large delegation from France to Ghana in February last year and the French returned the favour with a visit to Ghana by Prime Minister Manuel Valls in October 2016 with a large government and business delegation from France. He promised formalised exchanges between educational institutions in France and Ghana and the opening of a Business France office to facilitate trade and investment between the two countries. It was my joy and passion to serve my country and returning home gives me an even greater opportunity to continue to do so. I hope that you will also continue to play your role as Ambassadors for Ghana in France.
Thank You and May God Bless our Homeland Ghana!
Ambassador Johanna Odonkor Svanikier
ELECTIONS IN GHANA: PEACEFUL TRANSITION
Ghanaians went to the polls on 7th December and have elected Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo as their new President.
A team has been inaugurated by His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama to ensure a smooth transition of power from the old government to the new.
The inauguration of the new President will take place on the 7th of January 2017.