The 28th African Union (AU) summit held in Addis Ababa on 30-31st January was a historical one given the landmark decisions adopted, including the admission of Morocco into the Union and a deep reform of the continental body. The summit also renewed the leadership of the AUC and took steps towards financial independence of the Union. Albeit the lack of strong country/context related decisions on Peace and Security issues, the Assembly adopted the Master Plan towards Silencing the Guns by 2020. Finally, the summit adopted the so called ‘collective withdrawal strategy’, a misnomer of a document which provides member states with a roadmap for eventual individual withdrawal from the ICC in case AU’s claims and proposals regarding the court and some of its on-going operations are not taken in consideration.
- Took note of the recommendations for the proposed reforms to further strengthen the African Union, in the following five areas: a) Focus on key priorities with continental scope; b) Realign African Union institutions in order to deliver against those priorities; c) Connect the African Union to its citizens; d) Manage the business of the African Union efficiently and effectively at both the political and operational levels; e) Finance the African Union sustainably and with the full ownership of the Member States.
- Decided to adopt the recommendations in the Report as amended by Member States during the Retreat’s deliberations (see below)
- Mandated President Paul Kagame, in his capacity as the lead on the institutional reform of the Union, in collaboration with President Idriss Deby Itno, of Chad in his capacity as the outgoing Chairperson and President Alpha Conde, of the Republic of Guinea in his capacity as the current Chairperson, to supervise the implementation process;
- The Incoming Commission elected at the January 2017 Summit shall put in place a Reform Implementation Unit at the AU Commission, within the Bureau of the Chairperson, responsible for the day-to-day coordination and implementation of this decision;
- The Incoming Commission shall also make recommendations on a mechanism to ensure that legally binding decisions and commitments are implemented by Member States;
- President Paul Kagame shall report at each Ordinary Session of the Assembly on progress made with the implementation of this decision.
Focus on key priorities with continental scope:
i) 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 (including the Continental Free Trade Area), and Africa’s global representation and voice;
ii) There should be a clear division of labour and effective collaboration between the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the Regional Mechanisms (RMs), the Member States, and other continental institutions, in line with the principle of subsidiarity.
Realigning African Union institutions in order to deliver against those priorities
i) The Commission should initiate, without delay, a professional audit of bureaucratic bottlenecks and inefficiencies that impede service delivery and the recommendations therein;
ii) The Commission’s structures should be re-evaluated to ensure that they have the right size and capabilities to deliver on the agreed priorities;
iii) The Commission’s senior leadership team should be lean and performance-oriented;
iv) NEPAD should be fully integrated into the Commission as the African Union’s development agency, aligned with the agreed priorities and underpinned by an enhanced results-monitoring framework;
v) The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) should be strengthened to track implementation and oversee monitoring and evaluation in key governance areas of the continent;
vi) The roles and functions of the African Union judicial organs and the Pan-African Parliament should be reviewed and clarified, and their progress to date assessed;
vii) The Peace and Security Council (PSC) should be reformed to ensure that it meets the ambition foreseen in its Protocol, by strengthening its working methods and its role in conflict prevention and crisis management;
viii) The Permanent Representatives Committee’s (PRC) Rules of Procedures should be reviewed and be in line with the mandate provided for in the Constitutive Act of the African Union. The PRC should facilitate communication between the African Union and national capitals, and act as an advisory body to the Executive Council, and not as a supervisory body of the Commission.
Connecting the African Union to its citizens
i) The Commission should establish women and youth quotas across its institutions and identify appropriate ways and means to ensure the private sector’s participation;
ii) The Commission should establish an African Youth Corps, as well as develop programs to facilitate cultural and sports exchange among Member States;
iii) Member States should make the African passport available to all eligible citizens as quickly as possible, in line with the Assembly decision Assembly/AU/Dec.607 (XXVII) adopted in Kigali, Rwanda in July 2016
iv) The Commission should identify and provide a set of new capabilities or ‘assets’ in the form of common continent-wide public goods and services valued by Member States and citizens. Such services could include the provision of neutral arbitration and competition services, or a common technical platform for the data and analysis needed to assess Africa’s progress toward its development goals;
v) Member States should engage their Parliaments and citizens, including civil society, on the African Union reform process.
Managing the business of the African Union efficiently and Effectively, at both political and operational levels
Political management of the Union
i) The African Union Assembly shall handle an agenda of no more than three (3) strategic items at each Summit, in line with the Me’kelle Ministerial Retreat recommendations. Other appropriate business should be delegated to the Executive Council
ii) The Assembly shall hold one Ordinary Summit per year, and shall hold extraordinary sessions as the need arise
iii) In place of the June/July Summit, the Bureau of the African Union Assembly should hold a coordination meeting with Regional Economic Communities, with the participation of the Chairpersons of the Regional Economic Communities, the AU Commission and Regional Mechanisms. Ahead of this meeting, the AU Commission shall play a more active coordination and harmonisation role with the Regional Economic Communities, in line with the Abuja Treaty;
iv) External parties shall only be invited to Summits on an exceptional basis and for a specific purpose determined by in the interests of the African Union;
v) Partnership Summits convened by external parties should be reviewed with a view to providing an effective framework for African Union Africa should be represented by the Troika, namely the current, incoming and outgoing Chairpersons of the African Union, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, and the Chairpersons of the Regional Economic Communities;
vi) To ensure continuity and effective implementation of Assembly decisions, a troika arrangement between the outgoing, the current, and the incoming African Union Chairpersons should be established. In this regard, the incoming chairperson shall be selected one year in advance;
vii) Heads of State shall be represented at Summits by officials not lower than the level of Vice President, Prime Minister or equivalent;
viii) The current sanctions mechanism should be strengthened and enforced. This would include consideration of making participation in the African Union deliberations contingent on adherence to Summit decisions.
Operational management of the Union
i) The election of the Chairperson of the AU Commission should be enhanced by a robust, merit-based, and transparent selection process;
ii) The Deputy Chairperson and Commissioners should be competitively recruited in line with best practice and appointed by the Chairperson of the Commission, to whom they should be directly accountable, taking into account gender and regional diversity, amongst other relevant considerations;
iii) The Deputy Chairperson role should be reframed to be responsible for the efficient and effective functioning of the Commission’s administration;
iv) The title of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson may also be reconsidered;
v) A fundamental review of the structure and staffing needs of the organisation, as well as conditions of service, should be undertaken to ensure alignment with agreed priority areas.
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC)
- Adopted the ICC Withdrawal Strategy and called on member states to consider implementing its recommendations… But many countries entered reservations to the text.
- Requested the Group of African States Parties in New York in collaboration with AU Commission to actively participate in the deliberations of the Working Group on Amendments to ensure that African proposals are adequately considered and addressed;
ADMISSION OF MOROCCO
- Welcomed the request from the Kingdom of Morocco as it provides the opportunity to reunite the African community of states around the Pan-African core values of the Founders of solidarity, unity, freedom and equality, in accordance with the Principles and Objectives of the Constitutive Act. This will strengthen the ability of the African Union to find African solutions to African problems;
- Decided to admit the Kingdom of Morocco as a new Member State of the African Union in conformity with Article 9(c) and Article 29 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union;
- Requested Morocco to deposit their instrument of accession to the Constitutive Act of the African Union.
- Noted with deep concerns the continued impasse in the search for a solution to the conflict in and underlined the urgent need for renewed international efforts to facilitate an early resolution of the conflict. In this respect, the Assembly called again to the UN General Assembly to determine a date for the holding of the self-determination referendum for the people of Western Sahara and protect the integrity of the Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory from any act which may undermine it.
- Urged the UN Security Council to fully assume its responsibilities in restoring the full functionality of United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), as it is indispensable for overseeing the ceasefire and organizing the self-determination referendum in Western Sahara, as well as in addressing the issues of the respect of human rights and the illegal exploration and exploitation of the Territory’s natural resources, particularly in line with the important judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union issued on 21 December 2016, on the arrangement between the EU and Morocco signed in 2012, on the mutual liberalization of the trade in agricultural and fishing products.
PEACE & SECURITY
- Emphasized the need for all AU Member States, in particular the PSC, to give more focus on conflict prevention, early warning and early response, in order to prevent, for future, occurrence of full blown conflicts in the continent.
- Endorsed the African Union Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by year 2020, as a guideline for Africa’s efforts to this end.
- Directed the PSC to establish a monitoring and evaluation mechanism on the basis of which the Assembly will periodically review progress in the implementation of the Master Roadmap;
FINANCING THE AFRICAN UNION
i) The Committee of Ten Finance Ministers should assume responsibility for oversight of the African Union budget and Reserve Fund and develop a set of ‘golden rules’, establishing clear financial management and accountability principles;
ii) After funding of the budget of the African Union and the Peace Fund, the balance of the proceeds of the 0.2% AU levy on eligible imports, the Committee of Ten Finance Ministers should look into placing surplus in a Reserve Fund for continental priorities as decided by the Assembly;
iv) The current scale of contributions should be revised based on the principles of ability to pay, solidarity, and equitable burden-sharing, to avoid risk concentration.
ELECTION AT THE LEADERSHIP OF THE UNION –
AU Chairperson for 2017: H.E. President Alpha Conde – Guinea
Credit photo and draft decisions: African Union Commission
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