The slow rate of ratification and domestication of key African Union instruments is alarming and continues to undermine the credibility of the continental body.
Johannesburg, August 31, 2012 -State of the Union (SOTU), a coalition of 10 civil society organizations that advocates for the ratification, domestication and implementation of key African Union treaties and legal instruments, has urged national, regional and continental Parliaments to take a leading role in promoting the ratification and implementation of key AU instruments and policy standards.
Speaking at the Annual Conference of the Speakers of African Parliaments, Neville Gabriel, a member of the SOTU coalition said National Assemblies must play a critical role in ensuring that governments deliver on the commitments they make at the AU and to ensure that they are translated into actions which will make a difference in the lives of the African citizens.
‘The slow rate of ratification and domestication of key instruments is alarming. It continues to undermine the credibility of the African Union and all its key organs and denies millions of African citizen’s fundamental freedoms and basic human rights as intended by the protocols,’ says Neville Gabriel, executive director, Southern Africa Trust, one of the 10 SOTU coalition members.
He said although there has been some progress in the rate of ratification with a total of 118 new ratifications have been entered against the 43 instruments, more needs to be done to ensure the ratifications go hand in hand with domestications and implementations.
Four countries have performed extremely well over the last 18 months. Burkina Faso has ratified seven instruments while Zambia, Gabon and Rwanda have ratified five instruments each. In the last seven months, Benin and Congo have ratified five instruments each while Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Mauritania and Niger have ratified two instruments each.
By August 2012, only two countries, Kenya and Mauritius, had ratified the African Charter on the values and principles of Public Service & Administration (2011) and only 14 countries had ratified the Charter for Democracy, Elections and Governance. At this current rate, universal ratification of African Union treaties would not be complete before 2053, one hundred years after the formation of the AU’s predecessor the Organisation of African Unity.
Gabriel urged national speakers to pressurize their governments to create mechanisms including formation of national commissions to popularize AU treaties as well as monitor the implementation of the key AU decision and instruments. He further called on national speakers to support their Heads of States or Ministers to brief public hearings or parliament prior to AU Summits to seek public mandate for some of the positions to be taken in upcoming Summits.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
1. State of the Union Coalition coordinates the Play for the Union mobilization strategy. The coalition came together to monitor and advocate with governments who have developed and adopted several instruments to accelerate the integration of African government policies and programmes at the national level. Collectively, these new protocols, rights based policy standards and legal instruments hold African states to higher standards of performance. They range from governance, political, social and economic rights, to peace and security and development. Fourteen of them – ten legal instruments and four policy standards – if implemented, have tremendous promise for the lives of millions in Africa.
2. A background to the AU Standards and instruments. Established in 2001, The African Union brings together 54 governments under the vision of a united, peaceful and prosperous continent. The 33 articles of the Constitutive Act of the African Union outline the goals, governing principles, structure and administrative functions of the African Union. The common denomination linking and underlying all the articles is the core concept of safeguarding and improving the level of respect for the shared values, which exposes a set of reciprocal rights and duties between African governments and their people.
The problem, however, lies in national Government’s failure to comply with the African Union’s decisions on integration, development and people’s rights. The lack of accountability systems monitoring the compliance of each African state has lead to the slow ratification and implementation of numerous African Union instruments. In the mean time, the gap between policies and reality keeps expending. It is within this continental climate that the Play for the Union campaign emerges to offer a platform from which the influencing capacity of citizens can grow.
THE TEN INSTRUMENTS AND FOUR POLICY FRAMEWORKS
The African Youth Charter
African Charter on Human and People’s Rights in Africa
African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption
Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa
Revised African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community
Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Pan- African Parliament
The African Health Strategy 2007-2015
NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan (CAADP)
Abuja Call for Accelerated Action towards Universal Access to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Services by 2010
Maputo Plan of Action for the Operationalisation of the Continental Policy Framework for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights 2007-2010
For more information on AU Treaties http://www.au.int/en/treaties
WHAT DO THEY CONTAIN?
Twelve years of government meetings at a cost of US$10 million to you and me
A promise to Africa by our heads of states
Progressive concepts of people’s participation, rights, freedoms, responsibilities, opportunities and choices for all without discrimination
Directives to states to disclose information, to manage public monies responsibly, to involve citizens, to promote and protect the rights and freedoms the core of Government policy and budgets (10% for agriculture, 15% for health, reduced funding for defence)
Standards for key political, economic and social rights (speak, be heard, be involved, elect or be elected freely, meet, move, education, health, agriculture, maternal health, non-discrimination, peace)
Standards for citizens to be educate themselves, act responsibly, vote, stand, be proactive citizens, manage the environment
Yet, the Reality in Africa is
More women in political and public office, children in schools, less conflict, more elections
7/10 fastest growing economies in the world in Africa yet, 360 million people live in poverty and only 36 million earn more than US$10 a day
Despite key social policy standards including the Dakar Framework for Action-Education For All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments (2000), the Abuja Declaration on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Other Related Infectious Diseases (2001), the Maputo Plan of Action for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights 2007-2010 (2006) and the Africa Health Strategy: 2007–2015, huge inequities exist between urban and rural, rich and poor people with ten of thousands in urban areas without security, water or sanitation.
Two out of every five men and women die of infectious diseases, one in sixteen women die at child-birth and one in three children out of school.
Since 1963, only twenty-five treaties out of the forty-two treaties adopted by African Governments have come into force.
Mali, Rwanda, Niger, Libya, Senegal and Burkina Faso (in this order) have ratified the most instruments and the best performers (more than twenty-six ratifications)
Sao Tome, Somalia, Eritrea, Saharawi Republic, Central Africa and Cape Verde have ratified the least instruments and the worst performers (less than ten ratifications)
Although adopted by 26 Governments, the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan (2003) is yet to seriously impact on food security in Africa. 44 countries currently import 25% of their food needs and over 300 million people are denied the right to food. The recent price food hikes in 2011 pushed 28 million people further into poverty. Further, deforestation and climate change leave us no choice to adapt