AfriMap Urges Open Processes
AfriMAP is pleased to make this contribution to the Audit Review of the African Union (AU) on the basis of its experience over the past three years in monitoring compliance with AU treaties and standards and seeking to promote civil society engagement with AU processes and institutions.
AfriMAP, a project of the Open Society Institute network of foundations in Africa, worked with Oxfam and AFRODAD to produce the report Towards a People-Driven African Union: Current Obstacles and New Opportunities, published in January 2007, that considers issues of participation in the AU, and has also published a set of studies of the implementation of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). AfriMAP participated, together with other civil society organisations, in a consultative dialogue organized in May 2007 by the Pan- African Parliament (PAP) in collaboration with the Southern Africa Trust on the theme ‘Building Effective Mechanisms for Civil Society Engagement with Pan African and Regional Institutions’. AfriMAP was invited by the Africa Citizens Directorate (CIDO) of the AU Commission to organise a panel discussion on the Union Government proposals during a session of the CIDO Civil Society Forum held in June 2007 in advance of the AU Accra summit, and was also one of the co-sponsors of an independent civil society meeting in Accra attended by representatives of more than 100 organisations from 30 countries in Africa that debated the proposals. For this meeting it commissioned papers from a range of experts, available on the AfriMAP website; the report of the conference will be available shortly.
AfriMAP shares in the disappointment of other civil society organisations that the timetable for the conduct of the Audit Review does not allow for wider consultation and participation by civil society, parliamentarians and other stakeholders in the institutions of the AU, including the institutions responsible for ensuring respect for the AU’s human rights standards. A very limited number of submissions to the process can be expected, although many more would have useful contributions to make were the timelines more generous.
The critical finding from our work with a broad range of civil society organisations interested in engaging with the AU is the need for the AU institutions to be far more open to organisations and individuals who are not government officials, members of the AU Commission, or the small group of insider-outsiders who have privileged access because of their efforts to build up personal contacts in order to gain an understanding of AU processes. Looking forward, the loudly expressed view is that any new institutions and structures established at continental level should enhance the democratic accountability of the AU and empower Africa’s citizens and communities, and not just its governments. This will require not only the vision of greater political and economic integration among Africa’s states, but steps to increase participation in AU decision-making, as well as a clear focus on creating effective institutions that can implement and enforce the decisions that they take.
The following findings and recommendations that we hope may contribute to the Audit’s work are drawn from the report Towards a People-Driven African Union and AfriMAP’s other engagement with AU processes: