OF THE SENEGALO-GAMBIAN PERMANENT SECRETARIAT:
AN INSTRUMENT FOR THE PROMOTION OF FUNCTIONAL COOPERATION AND DURABLE PARTNERSHIP
Aware of the special and privileged nature of their relations and desirous of deriving the maximum benefit from this advantage for their respective populations who share a strong feeling of being the same people, The Gambia and Senegal have, very early, explored the means to formalize their common progress into the future that laid ahead (cf. UN 14th March 1964 Van Mook Report).
It is against this background that, as soon as 1965, when The Gambia gained its international sovereignty and five years after Senegal’s independence, the two countries established a Senegambian inter-ministerial Committee on external relations and signed the first defence agreement.
Concerned about further strengthening their multifaceted ties, the two countries, on April 19th 1967, during President Léopold Sedar SENGHOR’s first official visit to The Gambia, signed a Treaty of Association and established the Senegalo-Gambian Inter-State Committee, an instrument for the promotion of security, peace and development.
Despite successive reforms and an interruption in the course of the existence of the Senegambia Confederation between 1982 (the KAUR Agreements) and 1989, the Permanent Secretariat will come back on the Senegalo-Gambian bilateral scene to assert itself as a solid reference in the progression of the two States towards sub regional and African integration.
The first institution of its kind within the West-African sub region, the Senegalo-Gambian Permanent Secretariat is the manifestation of the shared will of the Gambia and Senegal to elude the uncertainties of history with regard to the relationships between neighbouring States and tie their destinies in order to build a common future together.
PRESENTATION OF THE SENEGALO-GAMBIAN PERMANENT SECRETARIAT
The Senegalo-Gambian Permanent Secretariat is an interstate institution that promotes functional cooperation, policy harmonization and a durable partnership between the Republic of The Gambia and the Republic of Senegal.
It operates within a specific legal framework, with an ambitious vision, values and principles that guide its action.
a) Legal framework
The Permanent Secretariat is governed following the provisions of the Agreement signed in Dakar on February 24th, 2006 and the Protocol relating to its organisation and functioning, signed in Dakar on April 30th, 2010.
The ambition of the Permanent Secretariat is to be an organisation of Excellence and a model of successful sub regional integration, by means of a functional cooperation in Africa and particularly in West Africa (cf. AU, ECOWAS).
In line with its statutes, the Permanent Secretariat, when conducting its activities, is bound to:
- Respect the national sovereignty of the Parties, The Gambia and Senegal;
- Commit itself and act with impartiality, neutrality and transparency;
- Promote good governance.
In return, it enjoys privileges and immunities within the two countries, Gambia and Senegal, like similar organisations in the sub region such as, for example, the Management and Cooperation Agency between Guinea Bissau and Senegal and the Gambia River Basin Organisation OMVG.
To the Senegalo Gambian Permanent Secretariat is assigned the mission to contribute to the sustainable development of the two countries. To that end, the Permanent Secretariat’s task is:
- To be the organ of liaison, of consultation and of dialogue that enables the Governments of the Republic of The Gambia and the Republic of Senegal to be mutually informed of the common policies that they implement, harmonize these policies and measure their impact ;
- To implement the decisions of the Joint Consultative Commission on Senegalo-Gambian Cooperation, co-chaired by the Vice President of the Gambia and the Prime Minister of Senegal; this Consultative Commission receives directives and guidance from the Presidential Council, the highest body;
- To propose to the two Governments any economic, social and cultural measures likely to reinforce the development of the two countries, and accelerate the process of sub regional integration as recommended by the AU, ECOWAS and NEPAD.
In addition to these prerogatives, the Permanent Secretariat plays an important role in the Senegalo-Gambian Border Management Commission, a specialized sub-unit of the Permanent Secretariat (cf. art. 7 of its Protocol signed in Banjul, on 21st February 2011), namely with regard to the demarcation of the Senegalo-Gambian border in the areas of Touba Trankil village in Senegal and Darsilami in The Gambia, and in Missera / Darsilami by the said Commission whose activities were suspended since November 2015 and should resume in order to be completed as soon as possible.
In addition to these tasks, the Permanent Secretariat is involved in the follow up of the execution of important projects and Agreements like, for example:
- The regional Transgambia Corridor comprised, on the one hand, of the Transgambia Bridge measuring 942 meters on the River Gambia at YeliTenda – Bamba Tenda, whose construction is under progress and on the other hand, of the Joint Border Posts (JBP) to be erected at the northern border post at Keur Ali/Keur Ayib and the southern border post at Senoba/Missera.
The Senegalo-Gambian joint technical committee of which the Permanent Secretariat is an observing member holds regular meetings with a view to removing the obstacles likely to slow the progress of the construction works of these infrastructures.
- The secretariat and coordination of the activities of the Steering Committee of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in Dakar on August 3rd 2012 by the Republic of The Gambia and the Republic of Senegal to facilitate free movement of persons and goods within the regional corridors based on ECOWAS protocols and conventions on transportation and trade (chap. VIII, art. 11 of the MOU) on the construction of the Transgambia Bridge, financed by the ADB;
- The follow up of the implementation of Agreements and Protocols of agreement signed between the two countries in the areas of Defence and Security, consular representation, Tourism, Fisheries and aquaculture, forestry and wildlife (fight against illegal logging and over exploitation of natural resources) and the preservation of the environment (coastal erosion and deforestation);
- The follow up of the negotiations for the conclusion of Agreements in the areas of Justice and maritime and air transport;
- The revision of the October 5th 2004 Agreement on road transport and agreed facilitations which will enable the functioning of the permanent consultation mechanism between the two countries and thus avoid the misunderstandings and difficulties that led to the closure of the Senegalo-Gambian border to road hauliers as was the case for more than three months during the first semester of 2016 (sudden and excessive increase in Farafenni and Barra ferry crossing tariffs of the River Gambia and the misunderstanding by the users of the application against them of the Senegalese customs code instead of the ECOWAS ISRT);
- The Parties also planned to assign the responsibility to serve as Observatory of Commercial exchanges between the two countries to the Permanent Secretariat, a task currently entrusted to the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (cf. Minutes of the 4th Session of the Consultative Commission on Senegalo-Gambian Cooperation on 24th February 2011).
e) Global Strategy of intervention
The Permanent Secretariat’s global strategy of intervention aims at achieving the following objectives in Senegambia:
- Human rights and democracy;
f) Organisation and units
The headquarters of the Permanent Secretariat is located in Banjul (Republic of the Gambia). It is headed by an Executive Secretary of Senegalese nationality, assisted in his duties by a Deputy Executive Secretary of Gambian nationality.
The above named authorities of the Permanent Secretariat are assisted, in addition to the administrative and technical staff, as well as locally contracted staff, by:
- A Director of political, social and cultural affairs, proposed by Senegal;
- A Director of Communication, Infrastructure, Transport and the Environment, proposed by Senegal;
- A Director of Trade and Economic affairs, seconded by The Gambia;
- A Director of Defence and Security, seconded by The Gambia.
These four directors are seconded to the Permanent Secretariat, 2 from the Senegalese Government and 2 from the Gambian Government.
A “bureau de suivi” (Liaison office), based in Dakar (Republic of Senegal) and headed by a Gambian national assisted by a deputy of Senegalese nationality will complement this institutional structure.
Under the authority of the Executive Secretary, the directors in line with their respective mandates, prepare and implement strategies for the development of programmes and projects geared towards the execution of the decisions taken by the Joint Consultative Commission on Senegalo-Gambian Cooperation relating to areas of mutual interest: infrastructure and communication; road, air and sea transport; agriculture, livestock, fisheries; economy and commerce; women entrepreneurship; customs; tourism, environment and natural resources; defence and security, as well as the social and cultural sector.
The operating budget of the Permanent Secretariat is financed essentially by the contributions of the Parties, to a ratio of 50% for The Gambia and 50% for Senegal.
It is equally expected, for its programme budget, resources from the proceeds from services rendered by the Secretariat, donations, subsidies and legacies, from loans contracted by the Secretariat or the proceeds of its financial investments and any other funds approved by the Parties.
Headquarters: Off Kofi Annan Street, Cape Point, Bakau, P.O. BOX 244 Banjul, The Gambia
Tel.: 00220 449 87 12 / 00220 449 87 10/ FAX: 449 87 17