What Should be Biden Administration Strategy towards Togo?

I was recently invited by the Washington DC-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to suggest what the Biden Administration could do in Togo.
I mostly focused on the importance of Job Creation for the youth in the Framework of the National Development Plan of #Togo . This can be done by promoting agriculture and agribusiness as well as tackling the Illicit Financial Flows (IFF)in order to generate more money for investment.

Listen to the podcast here: https://www.csis.org/node/62064

Cheers

Active Citizenship for an Effective Development Process in Africa

This is the summary of a paper I presented today 1st September 2021 at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, during the conference on “Good governance, participatory democracy, and social justice: Civil society as an agent of change and innovation in Africa”

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen

My main point for the 10 minutes I have, is to demonstrate how citizens’ participation in governance, which includes accountability from power holders, could make a big difference, and shorten our journey to development, reduces corruption, and obviously reduce inequality and poverty.

I will quickly look at it from a national angle to regional and continental perspectives and I will conclude with a few recommendations on how we can remove obstacles to active citizens’ participation.  

The realization of an integrated, peaceful, and economically developed Africa needs the full involvement of all segments of our society. It cannot be left in the hands of the only politicians holding office.

The conduct of national, regional, and pan African affairs should make room, both institutionally and informally for the participation of citizens as individual and their formations, in groups.

Our continental Agenda 2063 itself, recognizes that people’s ownership and mobilization are crucial,… as critical enablers to concretize Africa’s aspirations. So, for a prosperous and democratic society, the state, and a well-organized civil society should be seen as the two sides of the same coin. They complement each other. Civil society must be seen as a reservoir of social capital, capable of contributing into all aspects of national, regional and continental development.

The evidence is clear. We have seen it ! Citizens’ engagement with their leaders improves the delivery of inclusive, accessible, and responsive public service. These include the provision of healthcare, safe water, quality education and decent jobs etc…. Today, looking at the challenges that our continent is facing, supporting democratic accountability and participation towards, a people-driven development has never been more urgent.

If we exclude or limit citizens from policy development, we will experience poor political and policy accountability mechanisms. Poor accountability leads to service failure, abandoned projects, waste, institutional inefficiencies and, will further exacerbate poverty…. That is why, my organization, the ONE campaign focuses its entire actions on citizens participation, active citizenship!!!

We identify recruit, train, mobilize and provide platforms for grassroots campaigners and their formations, to engage with political leaders and policymakers in order to catalyse change.

The influence of civil society in national and continental policy making does not diminish the relevance of governmental or inter-governmental processes, rather, citizens’ actions enhance and inform it.

If we look at the area of human security, for example, because of their immersion within the society, civil society organizations have vocation, and the ability to contribute to peace building initiatives and social cohesion.

In conflict affected area, Civil Society has shown its capacity to organise the collection, analysis, and evaluation of first-hand information, allowing the identification of the sources of potential tensions as well as emerging conflicts.

While traditional conflicts were well understood by diplomats and specialists in political science, addressing adequately new conflicts, requires much more on-the-ground understanding, new skills of social and cultural analysis, the active involvement of communities and their leaders, links to vulnerable groups, and new ways of working. Most of the time, civil society organisations have unique capacities in all those areas.

At national level

Unfortunately, we have been facing a reality in which, too many countries on the continent, have adopted and continue to adopt national legislations reducing civic space. There are increased control and undue restrictions on the formation and the activities of CSOs.

Some governments perceive CSOs as economic saboteurs, inciters of violence, or, an extension of political opposition parties or even, agents of foreign interest.

The reality is that since 2012, new restrictive CSOs laws have been adopted in more than 30 countries in Africa. Limited civic space, restricts the ability of citizens to participate in public life, and speak truth to power. This constrains one of society’s primary tools to prevent political capture of the state and its resources.

Of course, promoting civic space does not tacitly imply that civil society should be unregulated and free from government oversight. We are not saying that. On the contrary, reasonable regulation is legitimate, necessary and can enhance effectiveness and accountability in the sector. Yet regulations must not be overly burdensome, driven by political motives, and design to shot down independent voices.

Africa has a proud history of civic activism.  social movements and activists were a vital component of most independence struggles, and, civil society was a driving force behind state formation and state building.

This should continue as we face new challenge. Unfortunately, CSOs are under threat!!! Especially at national level.

At Regional Level

Civil society and coalitions that are targeting regional and pan African institutions have an important role to play as a complement and a backup to national groups. They are less exposed to risks compared to national CSOs and in many cases they can really contribute, influence and pressurize member states through regional and continental bodies on regional policy issues.

While this is important, we know that, the actual implementation of decisions happens at country level, Fundamental changes in people’s life happens at national level so we should mobilize, and regroup to stand strongly against any shrinking or even shifting of civic space in our countries.   

It is then important that the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities step in, this unfortunate trend.

So, what can we do?

At continental and regional levels, we do have a strong normative framework!

The entire transformation of the OAU to the AU is justified by the importance of citizens’ participation. Other Regional bodies such as ECOWAS, SADC, EAC etc, give ways legally to CSOs participation and constitutions of many member states recognize that organized civil society is a legitimate and authentic expression of fundamental human rights…. But then, laws being made on political consideration come to mess things up…

A few suggestions:

  1. We need to first, push for a moratorium of restrictive CSO law in Africa, and bring the debate to a regional and pan Africa levels….
  2. A few progressive member states should table the issue in the regional debate then take it to continental discussion: South Africa, Botswana, Senegal, Zambia, Nigeria etc… could play a leading role. There are reasons to do so…. We cannot reach the Africa we want, the Africa that is described in the Agenda 2063…. We can’t get there without a genuine citizens participation…  
  3. I know there have been a number of analysis of existing restrictive laws but I believe we need an independent continental taskforce to be commissioned by the AU to look at the situation, review laws and regulations that affect civil society organizations and make a report to the Assembly of Union for a progressive decision.
  4. CSOs on their side need to regroup on this matter and organize…. Not agonize.
  5. I really want to believe that this gathering, the CSO Conference constitute the beginning of a continental revolution to save Civic Space…

I thank you !!!

Africa & the International Criminal Court: A new Era is Possible

To Mark the Day of International Criminal Justice, today 17 July, here is another article I published some years back after speaking to African Ministers of Justice gathered in Dakar, Senegal by the then Minister of Justice of Senegal and President of the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC Treaty, Mr. Sidiki Kaba.

Assodesire

Subsequent to my article on Africa and the ICCpublished on this blog, I was invited by H.E. Sidiki Kaba, Minister of Justice of Senegal and President of the Assembly of States parties to the International Criminal Court to resource a ministerial discussion  on the challenges and opportunities of the International Criminal Court going forward. Present at this meeting was also the ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda as well as other officials of the court.

In my presentation at a session chaired by H.E. Cheik Sako, Minister of Justice of Guinea, I proposed to African Ministers of Justice ideas that would re-establish trust between Africa and the ICC in order to work together to address impunity and ensure justice for victims. I argued that grievances of the African Union against the ICC’s  “exclusive” targeting of Africa is understandable because crimes under ICC jurisdictions are also committed by none Africans, outside of Africa and the ICC does not seem to be in…

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The International Criminal Court or the African Union: Who can Ensure Justice for African Victims?

Today, 17 July is the Day of International Criminal Justice, marking the anniversary of the adoption of the International Criminal Court Treaty in 1998. I am sharing an article I published some years back, but still relevant today on Africa and the #ICC: https://assodesire.com/2017/02/14/the-international-criminal-court-or-the-african-union-who-can-ensure-justice-for-african-victims/

Assodesire

La version en Français ici

I spent several years of my professional career working on human rights and justice first as the Founder and Chairperson of Juris-Club, then as Commissioner at the National Commission of Human Rights following my election by the Parliament of Togo, then as Outreach Liaison for Africa at the Global Coalition for the International Criminal Court in New York among others … The conflict between the African Union and the ICC therefore interests me in several respects but especially as African and a human rights lawyer; therefore I would like to share here some personal reflections on the different episodes of the serial “ICC versus the African Union”.

The International Criminal Court: The Basics

The creation of the International Criminal Court is an important step in mankind’s efforts to make our world more just. The court was established by an international law treaty “The Rome…

View original post 1,816 more words

Africa Day: Beyond the Celebration

On 25th May each year, Africa Day is commemorated diversely in the continent and the diaspora. I would like to share some thoughts about what I believe must be an important day of reflection and re-commitment in our continent.

On 25th May 1963, the first African continental intergovernmental organization was created, following the independence of most countries. The Organization of African Unity (OAU), mother of the current African Union (AU), was born with the adoption of its Charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during a diplomatic conference hosted by the then Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie.

Africa Day should not be confused with African Union Day (AU Day), commemorated on the 9th of September each year, marking the day the Assembly of Heads of State decided to transform the OAU to the AU in Sirte, Libya on 9/9/99.

The OAU was founded by 32 countries. Later, 23 other nations have gradually joined the body over the years. OAU was an unprecedented commitment to Africa’s aspiration for the total political liberation of the continent from colonialism as well as the unity and solidarity among its people. While the main objectives of the OAU were to rid the continent of the remaining vestiges of colonization and apartheid and to promote unity and solidarity among African States, the new African Union aimed for “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”

The transformation of the OAU to the AU created the hope of greater unity and solidarity of African countries and among African people. The desire to build a people-oriented and people-centered institution is the main distinguishing feature between the African Union and the former Organization of African Unity, which was exclusively state-focused. People called it the “Club of male Heads of State.”

Beyond the Celebration

First, it’s important that Africa Day is commemorated in all African countries and the entire diaspora. It should be a day on which we tell African stories to our young generations. The stories of our past glories, the stories of a future hope… Africa Day should also be a day of re-commitment to our Shared Values and our common Agendas, both the Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals of which we are fully part. The AU has a set of Shared Values that centre around democracy and good governance, the rule of law and human rights, peace and security, and continental development and integration. Africa Day should be a day of a renewed African solidarity. A day of remembrance that an important part of our continent is still devastated by the ongoing unjustifiable conflicts, a day of determination to fight extreme poverty and all kind of inequalities and discriminations in Africa.

I still have memories of the Lomé Summit in 2000, when the new Constitutive Act of the AU was adopted. Managing the Civic Education Division of the National Radio of Togo, Radio Lomé, I broadcasted a radio show titled “from the OAU of Heads of State to the AU of Citizens” to my 2 million listeners. I can remember the excitement and the big hope of African citizens to be part of a new continental organization that aimed to pave the way to a stronger democracy, human security, prosperity, development.

Since its inception, the African Union has raised the normative bar for the socio-economic and democratic development ambitions of the continent. But the adoption of norms, treaties, policy frameworks is not enough to take us to the “Africa We Want” We must realize the promises by effectively implementing those instruments and regularly hold each other accountable to them. It is time to close the gap between continental promises and the daily reality of most citizens.

How is our Union Doing Today?

Are citizens genuinely given a chance to participate in the Union’s processes fully? Are we implementing fundamental principles that aim to secure a democratic Africa, the respect of human and people rights, and unlock potential for development?   Are we managing our natural resources responsibly for the benefit of the continent and its people? How are we preparing our youthful population to take over? Are we harnessing our demographic dividend as promised in the related Roadmap? Are we abiding by our shared values? How consistant are the responses of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union to the issue of unconstitutional change of government or Coup d’Etat that is still happening in our continent?

Between 2014 and 2021, over 20,000 Africans have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea trying to run away from our continent. Many others died in the Saharan desert before reaching the Sea. Why are they leaving the continents?

34 out of the 54 African Countries are labeled as “Least Developed Countries,” while at the same time billions of dollars are illegally taken out of the continent through illicit financial flows (IFF), according to the Thabo Mbeki Report.

Africa is said to possess over 90% of the world’s chrome resources, 85% of its platinum, 70% of its tantalite, 68% of its cobalt, 54% of its gold, plus significant oil and gas reserves. The continent is also home to uranium, manganese, diamonds, phosphate, and bauxite deposits in very high quantities. It has timber and other forest resources added to its vast arable land for agriculture.

We need to reflect on the many questions being asked by our people today: Have we really and genuinely moved from the OAU to the AU? Or are we still turning around with old practices? Why is 60% of the African Union budget still paid by external donors? What are the implications of such a fact on the integrity and effectiveness of our Union?

Ways Forward to the Africa We Want

We need to create a conducive environment for development to flow. The rule of law, democracy, and good governance ideals are critical to establishing peace and security in the continent. We promised to silence the guns in Africa by 2020, but we failed to do so and postponed the deadline to 2030. We are failing because we are doing the same things, using the same approach over and over again and excepting a different result.

Conflicts: Beyond Military Solutions: The AU itself has identified 21 current conflicts in the 55 countries that make up the Union. Root causes of most conflicts in Africa are to be found in extreme poverty, deep structural inequalities, discrimination, underdevelopment, unfair sharing of natural resources, political repression, mismanagement of our diversity, and climate change.

Military operations alone will not bring peace to Africa. We need to prioritize addressing governance crisis, promote inclusive dialogue, provide social services and boost development. Military interventions should only be at the service of this approach. Young people mostly used by warlords are vulnerable because they have nothing to lose.

During its special sessions, I have made submissions to the Peace and Security Council of the African Union on how we can silence the guns and make peace happen in the continent. Check it out here.

Prioritizing the Demographic Dividend: The age structure of our population has important impacts on our economic development. The “demographic dividend” refers to economic benefits arising from a significant increase of working-aged adults vis-a-vis those who are dependents. These working-aged adults must be healthy, educated, trained, skilled and, decent jobs and other economic opportunities should be created to meet their demand. Having a youthful population is not enough to catalyze development and prosperity.  All African countries should effectively implement the AU Roadmap on harnessing the demographic dividend in Africa.

Stop the Outflow of Capital: Every year, $89 billion leaves the African continent as Illicit Financial Flows, according to a UNCTAD’s Economic Development in Africa Report. These are movements of money and assets across borders that are illegal in source, transfer, or use. It includes illicit capital getting out of the continent, tax and commercial practices like wrong invoicing of trade shipments, and criminal activities such as illegal markets, corruption, or theft. The shocking fact is that the billions lost annually to IFF are almost equal to the Official Development Assistance (ODA) and the Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) altogether. These are missed development opportunities. Tackling IFF requires international cooperation and actions both within the continent and outside.

Commissioned by the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, a High-Level Panel led by President Thabo Mbeki made practical recommendations to tackle the IFFs.  We need to go back to those recommendations and implement them fully.  If not, our journey to 2030 and 2063 will remain a dream.

Wishing you all a thoughtful Africa Day!

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika!

God Bless Africa!

Your comments and suggestions are also welcome on this site or directly to my email address: Desire.Assogbavi@assodesire.com or Assogbavi@me.com

If you would like to continue receiving my articles, follow this blog at the bottom left of this page.

Is the Reformed African Union ready to meet the challenges of the continent?

The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) has published my article titled “Will the Restructured African Union meet the Continent’s Urgent Challenges?”, written from the notes bellow. You can read it here.

I have used the same notes below as talking points to speak at the Seminar hosted jointly by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) on the 16th February 2021 following the 34th Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union.

Talking Points:

To answer the question above, I propose we analyze 3 key elements against the reform agenda proposed by President Kagame and adopted by the Assembly of the Union.

  • The New setting of the AU
  • The Leadership and Management
  • The Resources needed to do the job  

Let’s look back into the reform agenda:

1st : The new setting, including the scope of intervention of the AU

The African Union should focus on a fewer number of priority areas, which are by nature, continental in scope, such as political affairs, peace and security, economic integration, and Africa’s global representation and voice: this has not happened enough in the new structure of the commission. Basically, we find every issues/thematic that were in the previous structure with 8 departments, squeezed within new 6-department Commission, sometimes under different names. There are even new items added. I believe we failed here…

On the positive side we have the merging of Political Affairs with the Peace and Security Department. This will catalyze a stronger synergy and, the Commissioner will have a unique opportunity to effectively work on the root causes of the conflicts (the political Affairs side), and not just to embrace the conflicts when they happen with their, already devastating consequences and implications. That was a missing link in the previous setting of the AU Commission.

There is an unfinished business: The Peace and Security Council (PSC) needs to be reformed with a focus on results.  We can’t continue evaluating the PSC just by counting the number of meetings they have had. They should be judged by how many conflicts they have helped to stop, or to prevent.

Also, the situation where countries in conflict continue to be member of the PSC or even chairing the PSC need to be resolved in the new setting because it has had negative influence on the work of the PSC and on its credibility.

2nd: The Leadership/Management

The Kagame Report called for managing the African Union efficiently at both political and operational levels. This is not only directed to the AU Commission. It is for the entire African Union System, including Member States:

  • We now have the Operational leadership of the Union just elected, with 2 more commissioners to be found.
  • Member States need to get into the game. Looking at the most serious challenges of the continents it is imperative to ensure a better governance based on our agreed shared values (which include democracy, human rights, credible elections, accountability), a fair sharing of our natural resources and a better management of our diversity in the continent. If we succeed in doing these, the “silencing the guns target” will rather be an easy one, and of course peace and security will pave the way for our development projects.
  • The newly elected leadership seems up to job. The business plan proposed by the Chairperson Moussa Faki put a strong emphasis on these issues. He promised to facilitate a conflict-free continent, he promised to interrogate some of the ongoing situations, to ask some of the hard and sensitive questions.  I believe he can build on his lifelong experience on conflicts and fragility as well as his last 4 years learning, to take us there if political will follows from member states.
  • The new Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, has a strong profile matching the portfolio.  Also, the unprecedented political support that he enjoyed by having been voted for by all the 55 member states, is definitely a big asset.
  • The Deputy Chairperson in charge of the Administration and Finance is coming from a related background. She is from a rigorous and disciplined political environment, Rwanda. We are also good here.  In fact, there are a lot of internal matters on her plate right now at the Commission to look at urgently fix:

  Following are a few facts from a recent forensic and performance Audit of the AU Commission covering the period 2012- 2018:

  • For the period reviewed, more than 70% of AU Commission Staff are with short time contract. 
  • In terms of quota related to how many nationals of each member state work in the AU organs, some member states have passed their quota by up to 500% while some countries have 0-5%
  • 200+ staff have passed retirement age and were still employed by the AU during the period considered  
  • More than 100 staff at the AUC are relatives to other staff
  • More than 100 staff’ qualifications could not be verified by the audit team…

  Political Efficiency at member States level: the need to embrace our shared values

  • When we talk about Managing the African Union, we should not forget the political level! The African Union is, and will be, as good as Member States are. It is not the job of the AU Commission to implement decisions at national level. It is the responsibility of member states.
  • On peace and security for example, we all know what the root causes of most of the conflicts in Africa are. They are actually well articulated in the AU Roadmap on silencing the guns by 2020, now moved to 2030 just a few weeks ago… We currently have deadly conflicts still going on in C.A.R., in the Lake Chad Basin, in Cameroon… It is not over in DRC, Burundi, Somalia, South Sudan. There are risks in Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Uganda… and we can go on… How can we trade for economic development within the continent in such a situation?

3rd: Financial Resources

It is one of the pillars of the reform agenda. The African Union should be financed by resources from within the continent. Progress have been very weak on this:

Current average contribution of the 55 AU member states all together is still less than 40%!!!

Development partners continue paying more than 60% of the African Union budget. This is happening despite all the talks, the scenarios, the decisions many years back, from President Obassanjo’s proposals in 2013 to President Kagame’s recommendations in 2017.

Lack of an Accountability Mechanism for the Implementation of AU Decisions at National Level

There is no practical accountability mechanism to track progress in the implementation at national level, of AU decisions, policies standards, treaties etc, adopted. There is no sanction for the lack of the implementation of these decisions by member states. AU Policy organs have been even trying to weaken the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, as the Banjul based body questions member states’ behaviors that go against AU human rights policies.   

The only sanction mechanism in the reform agenda is the sanction imposed to members for not paying their contributions to the AU. We need to do more on this. I believe a comprehensive sanction project need to find it way to the table at some point, but in the meantime the Commission’s leadership could come up with a few innovative ideas to have at least, a certain system of political pressure on members who violate AU principles in their countries. This could be championed by a group of Heads of State.

Maybe, it is time to start talking about an eventual safety guaranty for Heads of State who stayed too long on power and may be concern for their life if they are out. There should not be a taboo in terms of proposals that can bring peace in the continent.

So…. back to the main question: Is the African Union and its Commission ready to meet the challenges of the continent? Not yet!

I believe we are getting somehow on the track…. we have a potential to make it if we are courageous enough. It is looking a bit better than before, but we are not there yet!

Highlights from the ongoing African Union Summit, 6-7 Feb 2021

The very first leadership team of the restructured African Union Commission has been elected this 6th February 2021 for a 4-year term as follow:

Chairperson: Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat (re-elected) from Chad, Central Africa

Deputy Chairperson: Ms. Monique Nsanzabaganwa from Rwanda, East Africa

Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment: Ms. Josefa Sacko (re-elected) from Angola, Southern Africa

Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade and Industry, and Mining: Mr. Albert Muchanga (re-elected) from Zambia, Southern Africa

Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy: Ms. Amani Abou-Zeid (re-elected) from Egypt, North Africa

Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security: Mr. Bankole Adeoye from Nigeria, West Africa

Postponement:

The elections for the following posts have been postponed likely for six months when the Executive Council meet next (June/July 2021)

– Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs, and Social Development

– Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology, and Innovation

The outgoing 2 Commissioners Ms. Amira Elfadil and Ms. Sarah Agbor, respectively, will continue to serve in their positions until the next elections.

Why the postponement of the last two elections?

According to the rules and regulations of the African Union, the Commission’s leadership should respect a fair balance between the 5 geographical regions (North, Central, West, East, South) as well as a gender balance (male/female) in the overall team.

There are 8 positions, so, every region would have at least 1 post, and no region could have more than 2 posts. The Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson should be from different regions. If the Chairperson is a male, the Deputy Chairperson should be a female and vise versa. In addition, the regions of the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson could not have a second post. This will allow the other 3 regions to share the remaining 6 posts: 2 for each region. When a region has 2 posts, it should be 1 male and 1 female, so the whole leadership team should have an equal number of males and females meaning 4 men 4 women.

By the time the voting reached these two posts, the regions from which the candidates had come had already met their regional and gender quotas, so those candidates became automatically disqualified to be voted for due to regional and gender balance rules.

Technically the two upcoming Commissioners should come from West Africa (female) and Nord Africa (Male). ECOWAS has already decided internally that the second West Africa post would go to Burkina Faso. Central Africa and East Africa have already been granted the two highest posts (Chair and Deputy Chair), so, they could not have a second post.

A similar scenario already happened during the 2017 AUC elections, and voting for the remaining posts has been postponed for the following Summit.

So far the African Union is the only regional body with a strict written gender balance policy at the leadership level, a situation to be celebrated.

Other highlights from the Summit:

  • President Felix Tshisekedi from DRC is the new Chair of the Union for 2021
  • President Macky Sall from Senegal will be the following Chair of the Union for 2022
  • Chairperson Moussa Faki becomes the first AUC Chair to have a second term since the transformation of the OAU to the AU almost 20 years ago
  • The New Commissioner for Peace, Security, and Political Affairs breaks the record of having 55/55 member states’ votes.

Watch this space for more updates and analysis. Your comments and suggestions will be highly appreciated at Desire.Assogbavi@assodesire.com

African Union Summit Decisions in 5 Points

Dear Friends

Here are the key outcomes (unofficial) of the just-ended summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union held in Addis Ababa 8 – 10 February 2020. While the theme of the year 2020 is “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”, no concrete decision has been taken on the matter besides the acknowledgment of the Orientation Concept Note on the theme and a request by the Assembly of the Union for a comprehensive report on the implementation of the AU Master Roadmap at the end of the year. South Africa offered to host an extraordinary Summit end of May 2020 on Silencing the Guns. In my last blog, I have suggested 7 prerequisites for the guns to be silenced in Africa.

1/ LEADERSHIP

Chairperson of the African Union for 2020: President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa

Chairperson of the African Union for 2021: President Felix Tshisekedi of DRC

Chairperson of NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee HSGOC: President Paul Kagame, of Rwanda elected to replace President Macky Sall of Senegal

AU Champion for Financial Institutions: President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana, to provide political leadership and awareness to accelerate their establishment as scheduled in the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

See other Champions here.

2/ INSTITUTIONAL REFORM OF THE AFRICAN UNION

  • AU Commission to submit to the 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly (Feb 2021), after due consideration by the Executive Council, practical proposals for rationalizing the Agenda and the Program of Work of the Assembly, as well as streamlining the program of meetings and side events. of the Assembly and the Executive Council.
  • The Executive Council (Ministers of Foreign Affairs) has a delegated authority to consider and adopt provisionally the Rules of Procedures of the Assembly and the Statute of the Commission during its 37th Ordinary Session in June/July 2020;
  • The Protocol on the Relations between the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) is adopted and the Chairperson of the Commission authorized to sign the Protocol on behalf of the African Union;
  • The following eminent Persons have been appointed to assist for the AU Senior Leadership job profiles, competency requirements and assessment process: a) Central Africa: H.E Yang Philemon (Cameroon) b) East Africa: Amb. Konjit Sinegiorgis (Ethiopia) c) Southern Africa: Amb. Tuliameni Kalomoh (Namibia) d) West Africa:   Hon. Hassan Bubacar Jallow (The Gambia). North Africa to nominate 1 representative to join the group.

Read my previous articles on the AU Reform here.

New Structures of the following organs have been adopted:

  • African Union Commission Departmental Structure;
  • Continental Operational Centre – (Khartoum);
  • African Centre for the Study and Research on Migration – (Mali);
  • African Migration Observatory (the Observatory) – (Morocco);
  • African Union Mechanism For Police Cooperation (Afripol) – (Algeria);
  • AU Centre for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (AUCPCRD) – (Egypt);
  • Secretariat of African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) – (Lesotho);
  • African Observatory of Science, Technology and Innovation (AOSTI) – (Equatorial Guinea).

The Executive Council got delegated authority to appoint (not only to elect) members of the following AU Organs and Institutions:  

  1. African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
  2. African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child;
  3. African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
  4. African Union Advisory Board on Corruption;
  5. African Union Commission on International Law;
  6. President and Vice President of the Pan African University; and
  7. African Space Agency.

  3/ AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA (AfCFTA)

  • Mr. Wamkele Mene (South Africa) is appointed as Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area for a four-year term. The Permanent Secretariat of the AfCFTA to start operating by 31 March 2020
  • AfCFTA Council of Ministers to have an Extraordinary Summit on 30 May 2020 to approve all instruments required for the start of trading under the AfCFTA on 1 July 2020. South Africa to host the Summit
  • 6 Countries that made reservations (Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) decided to “compromise their national interests in the interest and solidarity of the African continent to join the rest of the States Parties in implementing the modalities on tariff liberalization”.
  • AfCFTA shall not accept requests for observer status from States that are not Member States of the African Union

4/ LEGAL INSTRUMENTS & ELECTION

The following Legal Instruments have been adopted:

  1. Statute of the African Peer Review Mechanism;
  2. Rules of Procedure of the Heads of State and Government of Participating States of the African Peer Review Mechanism;
  3. Protocol on Relations between the AU and the Regional Economic Communities;
  4. Rules of Procedures of the Mid-Year Coordination Meeting;
  5. Statute for the Establishment of the African Centre for the Study and Research on Migration;
  6. Statute for the Establishment of African Migration Observatory;
  7. Statute for the Establishment of Continental Operational Centre in Sudan for Combating Irregular Migration.

Election:

The following 10 Members have been elected for the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union for a 2-year term starting from April 2020:

  1. Cameroon: Central
  2. Chad: Central
  3. Djibouti: Eastern
  4. Ethiopia: Eastern
  5. Egypt: Northern
  6. Malawi: Southern
  7. Mozambique: Southern
  8. Benin: Western
  9. Ghana: Western
  10. Senegal: Western

The New PSC (from 1st April 2020) will be composed of:  Algeria, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Senegal.

5/ CALENDAR

  • 34th AU Summit: 6 & 7 February 2021 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • 38th Session of the Executive Council: 3 & 4 February 2021 in Addis Ababa
  • Extraordinary Summit of Silencing the Guns: May 2020 in South Africa
  • Extraordinary Summit on AfCFTA: 30 May 2020, in South Africa
  • 37th Session of the Executive Council: July 2020, N’Djamena, Chad
  • Next Mid-Year Coordination Meeting between the AU and the RECs: 4 July 2020 in N’Djamena, Chad. AU Commission to consult with the RECs, Regional Mechanisms and Member States with a view to finalize the detailed proposal for an effective division of labor between the AU and RECs and present it to the 2020 Mid-Year Coordination meeting, after due consideration by the 37th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council.

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Les Dirigeants Africains Peuvent-ils Faire Taire les Armes en 2020 Comme Promis? 7 Prérequis Incontournables

English version here 

Les Chefs d’État de l’Union africaine se réuniront prochainement pour leur 33eme session ordinaire prévue pour les 9 et 10 février 2020 à Addis-Abeba, en Éthiopie.

Comme d’habitude, ceci est le premier de ma série de réflexions et d’analyses que je partagerai sur ce blog www.assodesire.com  avant et après le Sommet.

Le thème de l’année 2020 est «Faire taire les armes: créer des conditions propices au développement de l’Afrique». J’ai eu l’honneur de contribuer à ce débat depuis 2017 à l’Union africaine sur invitation du Conseil de paix et de sécurité de l’Union comme personne ressource, à plusieurs de ses sessions sur la question.

Dans leur déclaration solennelle du 50e anniversaire de l’Union africaine, les Chefs d’État et de Gouvernement africains se sont engagés «à atteindre l’objectif d’une Afrique sans conflits, à faire de la paix une réalité pour tous nos peuples et à débarrasser le continent des guerres, conflits,  violations des droits de l’homme, des catastrophes humanitaires, et prévenir le génocide ».

Silencing... French image

En novembre 2017, le Conseil de paix et de sécurité a adopté une « feuille de route traitant des étapes pratiques pour faire taire les armes à l’horizon 2020 ». La feuille de route a également été approuvée par le Sommet des Chefs d’État. La Feuille de route reconnaît qu’au-delà des efforts politiques et militaires en cours, il y a un besoin urgent d’interventions structurelles dans le domaine du développement socio-économique, pour tenir compte des questions de gouvernance, des jeunes et des femmes, de l’emploi et de l’éducation, du changement climatique et d’autres facteurs pertinents.

Qu’est-ce qui pousse les individus et groupes d’individus  à détenir et faire confiance aux armes?

Aujourd’hui, seulement 1/3 de toutes les armes légères en circulation sont aux mains des forces de sécurité légalement constituées. Les 2/3 sont détenues illégalement par des acteurs non étatiques ou des individus, ce qui est préoccupant car, l’utilisation de ces armes affecte directement et indirectement des centaines de milliers de personnes et compromet gravement nos engagements en faveur du développement durable.

Chaque année, la Commission de l’Union africaine présente un rapport sur l’état de la paix et de la sécurité sur le continent à l’Assemblée des Chefs d’État, et des décisions sont prises en conséquence, mais la paix ne se fait toujours pas voir. Dans de nombreux cas, les gens détiennent, gardent et font confiance aux armes, parce que leurs divers problèmes récurrents restent non résolus par les détenteurs du pouvoir.

Les institutions africaines doivent se comporter différemment

Les détenteurs d’armes illégales sur notre continent ne considèrent pas leurs propres actions comme illégales mais plutôt légitimes contre des problèmes tels que le partage inéquitable des ressources nationales, la confiscation du pouvoir d’État et des ressources d’État par un individu ou un groupe d’individus, des formes modernes de changements anticonstitutionnels de gouvernement qui se manifestent aujourd’hui par des élections frauduleuses ou «cosmétiques» pour se maintenir au pouvoir, souvent avec la bénédiction déguisée  de certaines de nos institutions régionales et continentales à travers l’observation des élections qui ne portent principalement que sur les opérations de vote, et qui sont toujours «déclarées libres et équitables».

Si nous maintenons cette façon de conduire nos affaires, je crains que nous ne revenions ici à la fin de 2020 ou même 2030, seulement pour réaliser que les armes ne sont pas réduites au silence sur notre continent. Cela veut dire que le voyage vers notre Agenda 2063 deviendra plus long que prévu et les promesses contenues dans l’Agenda 2030 ne seront que de beaux rêves. En conséquence, la crise de confiance de nos populations – en particulier les jeunes – envers nos institutions, les instances régionales et continentales, va plutôt augmenter. Les populations affectées et marginalisées continueront bien sûr de ne faire confiance qu’aux armes.

Je dois insister sur le fait que la modification des constitutions nationales aux fins de garantir des mandats présidentiels supplémentaires ou illimités, renforcés par des élections injustes, constitue un réel risque de fragilité qui ne contribuera pas à faire taire les armes en Afrique. Pour que la campagne «Faire taire les armes» atteigne ses objectifs, nous devons faire les choses différemment. Nous devons être plus courageux si nous voulons voir des résultats différents.

Nos institutions continentales et régionales devraient avoir le pouvoir et l’autorité de faire un monitoring objectif de la performance des États membres dans la mise en œuvre de nos valeurs partagées qui sont contenues dans les nombreuses décisions, cadres d’action, traités, etc adoptés . Il devrait y avoir un mécanisme solide de sanction pour violation de nos valeurs partagées. Les sanctions ne doivent pas seulement viser le non-paiement des contributions financières. Je ne vois pas d’autre moyens pour changer l’Afrique et y assurer la paix et la sécurité.

Curieusement, l’Assemblée des Chefs d’Etat de l’Union Africaine dans sa dernière décision prise au Niger en juillet 2019 sur «l’Année pour faire taire les armes» a souligné le lien entre la bonne gouvernance, la paix, la stabilité et le développement et a reconnu que ces concepts sont intimement liés et ne peuvent pas être traités les uns sans les autres.

Ça ne commence pas forcément par les armes

La disponibilité des armes ne crée pas nécessairement des conflits. Mais leur prolifération et leur circulation incontrôlée peuvent entraîner une propagation plus rapide de la violence et amplifier leurs effets dévastateurs. Bien entendu, les pays sont moins sûrs si les armes sont facilement disponibles. Cependant, les conflits en cours en Afrique n’ont pas commencé simplement parce que des armes étaient disponibles. En fait, les armes sont arrivées plus tard dans la plupart des cas parce que les problèmes ne sont pas résolus.

7 Prérequis pour faire taire les armes en Afrique

Voici quelques conditions préalables clés que l’Union africaine, les États membres, les organismes régionaux, les citoyens et leurs groupes ainsi que les partenaires devraient rechercher si nous voulons vraiment faire taire les armes:

1 / La constitution et les lois de tous les États membres de l’Union africaine garantissent tous les droits civils et politiques à tous les citoyens sans discrimination. Cela signifie également que des manifestations pacifiques peuvent avoir lieu chaque fois que les citoyens ne sont pas satisfaits de la conduite des affaires publiques, et sans intimidation ni violence contre les citoyens.

2 / Les systèmes de justice de tous les États membres sont indépendants et exempts de pressions indues de la part de l’exécutif dans leur fonctionnement. Les auteurs de violations des droits de l’homme et les criminels sont effectivement poursuivis quel que soit leur statut social et politique et la réparation des victimes est assurée au niveau national… Si cela se produit constamment, la Cour pénale internationale n’aura plus grand chose à faire…Souvenons-nous que sans justice et sans redevabilité, les gens perdront confiance en tout sauf en les armes.

3 / Les institutions étatiques mettent en place des mécanismes socio-économiques et juridiques pour lutter contre les inégalités, l’extrême pauvreté et la corruption à tous les niveaux. Les flux financiers illicites sont considérablement réduits… De gros investissements sont réalisés à partir des ressources nationales, soutenues par la coopération internationale Sud-Sud et Nord-Sud, pour assurer les services sociaux essentiels, principalement l’éducation, les infrastructures et les soins de santé à tous les citoyens.

4 / Des élections crédibles sont regulierement tenues et gérées par des commissions électorales indépendantes sans aucune ingérence, et les résultats du vote reflètent le véritable choix de la majorité mais, les minorités sont respectées, délibérément protégées et ont la possibilité de participer aux affaires publiques à travers différentes autres institutions et par les lois et les règlements. Cela conduira naturellement à une situation où les élections seront davantage influencées par des programmes politiques et non par des origines ethniques. Les perdants des élections, y compris les anciens Chefs d’État ou les Chefs de l’opposition, sont traités avec dignité, respectés et bénéficient de la protection de l’État, mais ils sont tenus responsables s’ils ont commis de crimes.

5 / Des programmes innovants créent des opportunités d’éducation et de formation diverses et de qualité. Le secteur privé est réglementé, accompagné et encouragé pour créer de nouvelles opportunités d’emploi pour les jeunes. Les institutions publiques garantissent l’égalité des chances aux citoyens, sans discrimination d’être employés et engagés dans les affaires publiques.

6 / Le Traité de l’Union africaine sur la libre circulation des personnes et des biens est ratifié et pleinement mis en œuvre sur tout le continent. Le passeport panafricain ou même une carte d’identité africaine standardisée est délivrée rapidement sur demande aux citoyens. Ainsi, l’interaction entre les peuples de différentes nationalités et régions du continent catalyse d’importantes opportunités d’apprentissage, crée une synergie et stimule notre intégration économique. Les jeunes ne ressentent plus le besoin d’immigrer vers l’extérieur. Aucun décès n’est enregistré en Mer Méditerranée ou dans le désert du Sahara et une bonne partie de la diaspora rentre au bercail pour participer à la reconstruction du continent.

7 / L’Union africaine regagne la confiance de ses citoyens et devient une organisation véritablement axée sur les citoyens, et efficace pour assurer la mise en œuvre de ses décisions par les États membres. L’espace civique est garanti pour que les citoyens et leurs groupes participent à la vie politique. Cela signifie que l’UA a déclaré illégales toutes les lois draconiennes votées, empêchant la société civile d’opérer normalement dans les Etats membres. La liberté d’association est respectée mais les ONG sont redevables pour leurs actions.

Si tous ces prérequis sont observés, les armes seront sûrement réduites au silence en Afrique.

Observez cet endroit!!!

Je partagerai bientôt ma note d’information sur les autres questions clés de l’ordre du jour du Sommet à venir.

Veuillez m’envoyer vos commentaires et suggestions par e-mail à Desire.Assogbavi@assodesire.com ou sur What’sApp / Telegram au +19172160155