Commit4Africa is an online searchable database enabling users to track declarations and commitments made by Heads of State at high level international summits. Commit4Africa is sponsored by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the OECD in support of the Mutual Review of Development Effectiveness (MRDE) coordinated by these organisations, most recently in 2009. The Commit4Africa site was officially launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on October 17 2008.
The logic behind Commit4Africa is to have one space where users can immediately access relevant declarations and decisions, rather than trace an ever burgeoning body of literature disbursed across numerous institutions. It is hoped that this will encourage a wide range of users to monitor and assess commitments, holding governments more accountable to the promises they have made. Importantly, Commit4Africa explicitly conforms to the principles of objectivity, presenting an undiluted resource for its users.
All key, high level declarations made by Heads of State have been collated from numerous institutional online records, including the UN, AU, G8, G20, WTO, FAO, OECD, EU and ILO. Commitments have then been extracted and coded according to a range of parameters, such as sectoral and sub-sectoral relevance, the level of commitment (heads of state, ministerial etc.) and scope of commitment (global development commitments of significance for Africa, Africa- and sub-regional specific commitments).
What constitutes a commitment is not always clear. Rarely are commitments specific, time-bound with defined, monitorable indicators. Identification of commitments therefore requires judgement. That a commitment is actionable by the members themselves is the central operative parameter used by Commit4Africa, capturing statements that commonly start with ‘ we will, endorse, commit, support, agree to’, etc. Commitments that impact on Africa’s development either directly (e.g. the G8 Action Plan for Africa) or indirectly (such as Declaration on the Rights of Women from Beijing) have been included.
The database is an on-going project. It has started by considering key declarations signed by heads of state, but aims to expand by including, for example, ministerial commitments, as well as those made at the sub-regional level by individual African RECS. The database is actively maintained and updated by dedicated staff who monitor international fora. Recently added declarations are highlighted, and an RSS feed provides users with the option of being automatically notified when the site is updated.
Commit4Africa allows the user to either browse among the different organisations and sectors, or to search specifically via keyword, organisation, sector and declaration date. Each specific search query takes the user to a list of declarations (which can be ordered by date or organisation) in which relevant commitments are to be found. These commitments can then be viewed, grouped by the most relevant sub-sector. Given that a single commitment may be relevant to a number of sectors, these are also detailed, together with links to related commitments. Additional links also take the user to view all extracted commitments from the declaration, as well as the full original source document.