African Union Summit in Mauritania: What is at Stake?

Friends;

As usual, I would like to share with you the following personal notes on the upcoming 31st Ordinary Summit of the AU policy organs to be held in Nouakchott, Mauritania in a few weeks.

The Summit will be held under the theme: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”

Beside the main theme of the year, major issues on the Summit agenda include a progress review on the institutional reform and self-financing of the African Union, peace, security and humanitarian situation on the continent, the Continental Free Trade Area and the African Common Position on the future of ACP/EU. I have also anticipated on the theme and the leadership of the Union for next year 2019.

In line with the ongoing reform of the African Union, this Summit is expected to be the last mid-year Summit. From 2019 onward, there will only be one (1) ordinary Summit per year.

According to the draft agenda, the Summit’s sessions are scheduled as follow in Nouakchott:

  • Permanent Representative Committee (Ambassadors): 25th – 26th June 2018
  • Executive Council (Ministers of Foreign Affairs): 28th – 29th  June 2018
  • Assembly (Heads of State and Government): 1st – 2nd July 2018

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A Closed Summit

The upcoming AU Summit will likely be a closed Summit as per AU Assembly decision AU/Dec.582 (XXV) according to which “Only one summit per year should be open for observers (non-African countries, international and inter-governmental organizations, CSOs etc)”. This decision was previously applied during the mid-year Summit in Kigali, Rwanda in July 2017. The only exception to this policy is when the AU decides to invite a strategic partner whose activities are in line with the theme of the year. Organizations that have an authorized side event in relation with the theme may only have access to the specific event and not necessarily to the entire Summit space.

Key Issues to dominate the AU Summit

 Winning the fight against corruption: Corruption is one of the most pressing governance and development challenges that Africa is confronted with today. It’s devastating and harsh effects adversely affect the development progress and stability of the Continent. In 2003, the AU adopted the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption which entered into force in 2006.  The convention, now ratified by 38 Member States provides for the establishment of an Advisory Board on Corruption.  Created in 2009, the Arusha, Tanzania based Board has the mandate to promote and encourage the adoption of measures and actions to fight corruption and related offences on the continent. Member States are required to submit a report to the Executive Council on a regular basis on the progress made in complying with the provisions of the Convention.

Corruption trough Illicit Financial Flows (IFF): According the Thabo Mbeki report in 2015, $50 Billion is lost through illicit flows out of the continent every year. This figure has now mounted to $80 Billion according to the UNECA.

At the July 2017 Summit, it was decided that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari would champion the annual theme. This decision was apparently based on the fact that Nigeria has recently taken a number of initiatives at national level to fight corruption practices.

In Nouakchott a presentation and a presidential debate led by President Buhari will be held on the theme and the Assembly will likely adopt a solemn declaration on fighting corruption in Africa. It is not clear whether the discussions on fighting corruption will be extended to corruption in political governance.

Progress on the institutional reform and self-financing of the African Union: The summit will review progress on the implementation of the institutional reform being led by President Paul Kagame aiming for a more efficient and effective African Union to achieve the objectives of the Agenda 2063. So far it’s hard to believe that there is a genuine consensus among member states on what the new structure of the AU will look like, the power dynamics in the leadership, the scope of thematic interventions and the division of labour between the AU and the Regional Economic Communities among other issues. A group of Member States has even tabled formal concerns in relation with the review process and the initial proposal made by President Kagame.

A progress report on financing the African Union by African countries through a 0.2% levy on eligible imported goods into the continent, is also expected to be presented by Donald Kaberuka. So far the AU is still funded up to 70% by external donors.

Peace, Security and Humanitarian Situation: the number of violent conflicts in Africa and their impact on civilians has hardly changed from the previous year. Re-occurring or relapsing conflicts, riots and mass protests, and shifting threats posed by violent extremist groups are key sources and manifestations of violence and insecurity in Africa and the continent continue to face heavy peace and security and humanitarian challenges. Progress towards a sustainable peace is rather slow due to many reasons mostly linked to governance deficits and the continent continues to face cases of stalled or collapsed peace processes; some of the notable cases include Burundi, CAR, DRC, Mali, South Sudan, Libya, Somalia etc. The Campaign for “silencing the guns by 2020” decided some years back is struggling to show results as we are approaching the deadline in a year and a half. The Assembly of the Union will consider a report on it. The situation between Morocco and Western Sahara is still unresolved. Besides the general debate on the state of peace and security in the continent, the Assembly of Heads of State will consider a special report of the AUC Chairperson on Western Sahara.  The Peace and Security Council will meet at Heads of State level on the 30th June. French President Emmanuel Macron will participate in a luncheon on financing AU-led peace support operations authorized by the UN Security Council. It is likely that discussions between President Macron and African Leaders will be extended to the situation in Libya in which France is deeply involved.

The Continental Free Trade Area: the unfinished business: The recently adopted African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement will cover an African market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across all 55 member States of the Union. In terms of numbers of participating countries, AfCFTA will be the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization. The potential for intra-African trade to drive value creation and development is both palpable and real. The agreement is designed to benefit Africa’s industrial exports, so, in order to trade, Africa first has to produce and not only selling primary commodities. The Free Trade Agreement could not then produce the expected result without an acceptable degree of industrialization of the continent. 11 countries including the biggest economies of the continent – Nigeria and South Africa – have not signed the agreement. The next summit creates an opportunity to have those countries onboard but also to push for more ratifications of the treaty beyond the first 4 countries: Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Niger. In addition, the summit will discuss important annexes and appendices to make the AfCFTA effectively functional.

African Common Position on the future of ACP/EU: The Economic Partnership Agreement (Cotonou Agreement) signed in the year 2000 between 79 African, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) States and the European Union (EU) and its Member States for a period of 20 years is coming to an end in February 2020. Reflections between Africa and the EU are under way to determine the nature, outline and configuration of a more appropriate framework for future post-2020 relations. Renewing these agreements creates, a unique opportunity for both continents to reaffirm their individual and collective priorities, opportunities and challenges, so, African Heads of State will consider and eventually adopt a common position ahead of their negotiation with the EU.

Prospects for the year 2019: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will be the Chairperson of the African Union for 2019 and the theme of the year will be Refugees, Returnees and IDPs in Africa.  2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (OAU Convention) as well as the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the 2009 AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention). The Assembly decision at its 29th Assembly in July 2017 mandates the AU Commission to work with UNHCR and other partners to organize a series of commemorative events aimed at raising the visibility and provide thoughts for solutions of forced displacement in Africa. A series of events aimed at increasing ratification and domestication of the two key documents are being planned under the Project 2019, a joint AU-UNHCR initiative.

Given the important humanitarian component of our 2018-2021 strategic plan, we, at UNFPA, are ready  to engage on the African Union’s 2019 theme alongside other partners.

Do not hesitate to drop me an email on assogbavi@me.com should you have any questions or comments.

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Africa Day – 25th May: Beyond the Celebration…

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

It was on the 25th May 1963 that the first continental intergovernmental organization after independence, was created. The Organization of African Unity (OAU); mother of the current African Union (AU) was born by the adoption of its Charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during a meeting hosted by the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. The OAU was founded by 32 countries. Later, 23 other states have gradually joined the body over the years. OAU was an unprecedented commitment to the aspiration for the total political liberation of the continent from colonialism as well as the unity and solidarity among its people.

Who Commemorates Africa Day? Only a handful of African countries officially observe Africa Day. These include Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mali, Ghana, Guinea, Lesotho, Mauritania and Namibia. The day is also observed at the African Union headquarter in Addis Ababa. It is also encouraging to see that thousands of citizens are consistently reacting on social media  using the hashtag #AfricaDay. Today, the African Union Commission is hosting an event aiming to create, awareness for the public at large on the theme of the year 2018 which is “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, the current Chairperson of the Union, Dr. Abiy Ahmed the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, host nation the Union and the Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat will participate in the event. See the programme here.

Africa Day should not be confused with African Union Day (AU Day) which is commemorated on the 9th September each year, marking the day on which the decision to transform the OAU to the AU was taken by the Assembly of Heads of State in Syrte Libya in 1999. So, AU Day was the 9/9/99 !

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The transformation of the OAU to the AU created the hope of a greater unity and solidarity of African countries and among African people. In fact the desire to build a people-oriented and people-centered institution is the main distinguishing feature between the African Union and the Organization of African Unity which was largely state focused.

Beyond the Celebration…: First, it’s important that Africa Day is fully commemorated in all African countries and in the entire diaspora. It should be a day on which we tell African stories to our young generations. Stories of our past glories, 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. Africa Day should be a day of a renewed African solidarity. A day of remembrance of the important part of our continent that is still devastated by all sort of unjustifiable conflicts, a day of determination to fight severe poverty and all kind of inequalities in Africa.

In fact,  since its inception, the AU has raised the normative bar for the realization of socio-economic and democratic development ambitions of the continent. But the adoption of norms, treaties, policy frameworks only is not enough to take us to the “Africa We Want” We must realize the promises by effectively implementing them and regularly holding ourselves accountable to them… It time to close the gap between continental promises and the daily reality of most citizens.

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika! God Bless Africa!

Africa Amnesty Month for Silencing the Guns – Important Prerequisites…

Dear friends;

The Peace and Security Council of  the African Union has just launched the “African Amnesty Month” for the Surrender and the Collection of Illicit Weapons in the framework of the African Union Master Roadmap for silencing the guns in Africa by 2020.

I have had the honor to address the Council at that occasion as an invited Guest Speaker. I am sharing  here my presentation made on the 4th September 2017 at the African Union Headquarter. 

Your comments are welcome on this blog or by email to assogbavi@me.com

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Your Excellency, Madam Chairperson of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union; Honorable Members of the Peace and Security Council; Ladies and Gentlemen,All protocols observed.

Only 1/3 of all small arms in circulation today are in the hands of legally constituted security forces… the remaining 2/3 are held illegally by non-state actors or individuals and this is cause for concern because, the use of these weapons, directly and indirectly affects hundreds of thousands of people and severely undermines our commitments for sustainable development. So, the declaration of an Africa Amnesty Month for the surrender and collection of illegally owned weapons is an important step in the search for peace and security in Africa….

But, having looked at the decision of the Assembly on the Roadmap for silencing the Gun, the provision on Amnesty month seems to be the only provision with identified real actions with some accountability mechanisms.

Provisions relating to the root causes, or the origins of African conflicts are included, but unfortunately, they are vaguely treated… with no accountability mechanism or tracking system for implementation.

Madam Chair; a few years ago, the African Union had decided to launch a campaign named “Make Peace Happen”… in which we all participated but peace did not happen.

Every 6 months, the AUC presents a report on the state of peace and security in the continent, to the Assembly, and decisions are made accordingly …peace is still not happening… So, for the “Silencing the Guns” campaign to happen we must do something differently, we must do something courageous…. Maybe a bit painful…, in order to have a different result.

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The Assembly’s decision suggested that people who surrender their illegally owned weapons shall not be subjected to disclosure, humiliation, arrest or prosecution… that is a great incentive !!! but there is not the problem…

People are not holding on their gun today because they are afraid of prosecution… they keep holding and trusting the guns, mostly because their problems remain unsolved by the states, by power holders…

In fact, many weapon bearers do not consider their actions illegal but rather legitimate against:

  • The inequitable sharing of national resources
  • The confiscation of state power and state resources by an individual or group of individuals
  • The modern form of unconstitutional change of government manifested today by “fraudulent or cosmetic elections” to sustain unlimited terms on power …. often with the blessing by our regional and continental bodies through election observation that mostly look at just the voting operations, always “declared free and fair”

Madame Chair; if we stick to the current decision only, and to the the way we use to do business, I am afraid we will come back here in September 2020 or 2021, only to realize that guns are not silenced in our continent….

This means that the journey to 2063 will become longer than planned … the promises contained in the Agendas 2063 and 2030 will remain beautiful dreams. As a result, the mistrust of our populations, especially the youth, in our institutions, regional and continental bodies, will increase…. Affected and marginalized populations will continue trusting nothing else but the guns.

In DRC for example we do not need further research to know that, without a credible election and an alternation of power, there is no hope for peace… and it is unlikely for those who hold the guns, there, to surrender them… This also holds true for South Sudan Sudan, Burundi and so on. Of course, there are different scenarios and different realities in other part of the continent, that would not necessarily be resolved through election alone…

In many other countries in our continent, unlimited presidential terms reinforced by unfair elections constitute a real risk for fragility that will not contribute in silencing the gun by 2020.

Ladies and Gentlemen; availability of arms does not necessarily create conflicts. But their proliferation and their uncontrolled circulation can lead to a more rapid spread of violence and, magnify their devastating effects, and, of course, countries are less safe if weapons are easily available. However, conflicts that are going on in Africa have not started just because arms were available… in fact, arms come in later in most of the cases. So, without courageous actions to deal with the origins of the conflicts, efforts to collect arms in the framework of our Amnesty month will not bring us any tangible result. Strategically, collecting arms cannot come first in the implementation of our Roadmap.

Madam Chair, I may disappoint you today because I have not prepared any specific suggestions on how the Amnesty month can be organized, because I do not believe we are there yet. Rather, I would like to use the following illustration to demonstrate that, there are unavoidable prerequisites, that we should meet first, before voluntary arms collection can be effective, and these fit well within the objective # 4 of this Open Session.

Let’s consider that our Master Roadmap for silencing the guns can be implemented within a symbolic calendar year from January to December, including September as the month of Amnesty for the collection of illegally owned small arms…You would see at the end, that in fact, September is an excellent choice….

Illustration for a strategic sequencing of prerequisites for guns to be silenced in Africa within a symbolic calendar year

See powerpoint here: https://www.slideshare.net/DesireAssogbavi/prerequisites-for-silencing-the-gun-in-africa

January and February:  Constitutions and laws of all member states of the African Union guaranty all civil and political rights for all citizens with no discrimination. This also means that peaceful demonstrations can be held whenever citizens are not happy about the conduct of public affairs on a particular area, without intimidation or violence against citizens…

March and April: Justice systems of all member states are made fully independent and free of undue pressure from the executive in their functioning. Human rights violators and criminals are effectively prosecuted regardless of their social and political status and reparation for victims is ensured at national level… As this happens constantly, the ICC will go bankrupt and will probably close!

May – June: State institutions set up socioeconomic and legal mechanisms to tackle inequality and extreme poverty, and to combat corruption at all levels. Illicit Financial Flows are significantly reduced… Heavy investments are made from national resources, supported by international south-south and north-south cooperation, to ensure essential services, mainly, education, infrastructures and health are accessible for all citizens including our leaders.

July: Credible elections are normally held and managed by independent electoral boards with no interference… and results of the pools reflect the true choice of the people… but, minorities are respected and deliberately protected and given opportunity to participate in public affairs through different other institutions, by the law and affirmative actions… This naturally lead to a situation where, elections are influenced more by political agendas and not by ethnic origins.  Losers of elections including former heads of state or opposition leaders are treated with dignity, respected and enjoy state protection, but they are held accountable if they are responsible for crimes.

August: Innovative programs create diverse and quality education and training opportunities. Private sector is regulated, accompanied and encouraged to create increasing job opportunities for the youth.  State institutions ensure equal opportunity to citizens with no discrimination, to be employed and engaged in public affairs

Then comes September: The Amnesty Month! Following the AU Assembly decisions on the Roadmap for silencing the Gun… People who have small arms and light weapons illegally — voluntarily surrender them … This is consolidated by the setting up of justice and accountability mechanisms adapted to each national context and traditions, including transitional justice…. Reparation for victims is guaranteed.

October: The African Union Treaty on Free Movements of people and goods is adopted and fully implemented all over the continent… The Pan African Passport is delivered promptly upon request… Interaction between peoples of different nationalities and regions of the continent catalyzes strong opportunities of learning, creates synergy, and boosts our economic integration… Young people feel no need to immigrate… No death recorded in the Mediterranean Sea or in the Sahara Desert and, a good part of the diaspora comes back to take part in the reconstruction of the continent.

November: The African Union gains trust from its citizens and becomes a truly people driven body, and effective to ensure the implementation of its decisions by member states… A genuine and effective space is provided for citizens and their formations to be part of the decision-making process… But this means that the AU has declared illegal, all draconian laws  against CSOs in member states, and pushed countries to abolish them, then replace them by provisions that respect universally agreed freedom of association… while ensuring accountably of NGOs…

Madam Chair, in December: Guns will be surely silenced in Africa…

I thank you!

Opinions in this presentation are absolutely personal.

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

Subsequent to my article on Africa and the ICC published 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 a hurry to investigate them. However, as long as African countries and the continent do not have a functioning mechanism to address international crimes, our continent and the ICC must find a way to work together, clear misunderstandings, communicate better and ensure justice and accountability for the victims who are mostly women and children.

A recent  national “peoples’ consultation” organized by the Government of Zambia on their membership to the ICC has overwhelmingly  revealed citizens support for the ICC (more than 90%). Today, the ICC has more African member states (34) than the African Court of Human and People’s Rights has (30).  So, the envisaged divorce between Africa and the ICC should not be an option, rather, we need to re-invent trust and a better way of working…

For more details on my proposals  you can download my presentation here: https://www.slideshare.net/…/africa-and-the-icc-a-new-era-i…

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You can also read my recent article on ICC and Africa here: https://assodesire.com/…/the-international-criminal-court-…/

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Outcomes of the African Union Summit – July 2017 (Unofficial Note)

This document is being updated as more information become available

Last update: 10 July 2017

Dear Friends;

The 29th ordinary Summit of the AU (July 2017) has just ended in Addis Ababa. The official decisions of the Summit are not expected to be publicly available before a couple of weeks but, based on meetings and discussions that I have had with several delegations around the Summit and after looking at some of the Summit documents, I would like to share the following unofficial note on the key outcomes of the Summit.

In the coming days I will share on this blog, some personal analysis on these outcomes.

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Highlights:

  • Important decisions on youth; theme of the year.
  • President Paul Kagame of Rwanda elected to lead the African Union in 2018.
  • 2018 budget of the AU adopted: $769, 381,894, slightly less than 2017 budget.
  • Concerned about the performance of ECOSOCC, the Summit ordered an in-depth study on its functioning since its creation
  • The Africa-EU Partnership is re-branded: Morocco entered a strong reservation
  • Election of two commissioners: HRST & Economic Affairs
  • Election of new members of the Panel of the Wise
  • The theme of 2018 confirmed as “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation” and the dates and venues of both AU Summits in 2018 decided.
  • Important decisions and commitments on peace, security and humanitarian situation in Africa, and, on the “AU Roadmap for silencing the guns in Africa by 2020”
  • List of Heads of State and Government who lead on specific thematic within the AU

1/ Theme of the Year: “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth”

The Summit asked the Chairperson to mobilize international support for Africa’s efforts towards harnessing the demographic dividend by calling for a special session of the United Nations General Assembly and the creation of a global partnership on the demographic dividend.

2018-2027 period is declared “African Decade for Technical, Professional and Entrepreneurial Training and Youth Employment”.

The establishment of the African Youth Fund is endorsed. The Summit also authorized allocation to the African Youth Fund of an amount at least equal to 1% of the Programme Budget of the African Union Commission.

The Pan-African Youth Forum is institutionalized. The Leader of the theme of the year 2017, President Idriss Deby to follow-up on the conclusions of the Pan-African Youth Forum held in N’Djamena

The AU Commission to review the implementation of the AUC/AfDB/ILO/ECA Joint Initiative on Youth Employment to be in line with the AU Roadmap on the Demographic Dividend and incorporate the new AfDB Strategy on Youth Employment in Africa.

2/  Budget for 2018

Total budget: $769, 381,894 (including peace support operations $268,083,200)

  • Operating Budget US$458,763,038
  • Programs budget: $310,618,856

… to be financed as follows:

  • Member States contribution: $318,276,795
  • Partners contribution: $451,105,099

3/Africa -EU Partnership becomes “African Union (AU) – European Union (EU) Partnership: Morocco entered strong reservation.

The Executive Council approved the theme of the 5th AU – EU Summit (29-30 Nov. 2017) namely: “Investment in Youth for Accelerated Inclusive growth and sustainable development”. The Executive Council also decided that the nomenclature for the partnership with the European Union to be now: “African Union (AU) – European Union (EU) Partnership” instead of “Africa – EU partnership”. The Kingdom of Morocco entered a strong reservation on nomenclature: African Union (AU) – European Union(EU) Partnership.

Senior Officials and a Ministerial meeting to be held before the Summit. The PRC in close collaboration with the Commission to prepare and negotiate with the European side the outcome documents of the Summit.

The PRC was asked to convene a retreat to jointly conclude the elaboration of a Draft Declaration and other documents for the 2017 AU-EU Summit in cooperation with the AU Commission and the Africa Group in Brussels and submit to an Extraordinary Session of Council in August/September 2017 to consider the same documents and adopt the African Common Position.

Finally, the Council denounced the unjust unilateral sanctions against States and citizens of AU Member States.

4/ Peace, Security and Humanitarian Situation

Somalia: The Assembly expressed concern at the resurgence of piracy activities of the coast of Somalia and called on the AU and international partners to coordinate their support through the implementation mechanism of the Security Pact, as agreed at the London Conference, held on 11 May 2017, with a view to optimize the impact of joint efforts aimed at, in particular, supporting the Somali National Security Forces. The Assembly welcomed the establishment of the AU-Somalia Joint Task Force that should be the best channel to harmonize support by partners.

South Sudan: The Assembly expressed deep concern over the continued deterioration of the situation in South Sudan and called upon, South Sudanese parties to demonstrate leadership and to rise up to their responsibility towards ending the long suffering of their own people. The Assembly also welcomed the launching of the National Dialogue initiative by President Salva Kiir and urged the South Sudanese stakeholders to ensure its inclusivity independence and impartiality. The Assembly endorsed the decisions of the 31 IGAD Extraordinary Summit held on 12 June 2017, in particular the urgent convening of the High-Level Revitalization Forum of the Peace Agreement. Concerned by the humanitarian situation in South Sudan and urged the international community to provide the necessary assistance to the needy people in South Sudan and the neighboring countries. In this regard, the Assembly called on the Transitional Government of National Unity, SPLM-IO and all armed groups to strictly observe international humanitarian law with regard to humanitarian agencies and workers, with a view to create or facilitate access and delivery of the humanitarian assistance to the population in need.

Djibouti and Eritrea: The Chairperson of the Commission, with the necessary support of the two countries, to pursue his efforts towards normalization of relations and good neighborhood between Djibouti and Eritrea

Morocco & Western Sahara: The Assembly reaffirmed its determination to find a durable solution to the conflict in Western Sahara, and called on the two Member States, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, to engage in direct and serious talks and extend the necessary cooperation to the AU policy organs, the Commission and the AU High Representative for Western Sahara. The Assembly also welcomed the commitment of the UN Secretary-General to re-launch the negotiating process, with a new dynamic and a new spirit leading to the resumption of negotiations, in good faith and without preconditions, between the two parties with the aim of reaching a durable solution, which shall provide for the self-determination referendum of the people of Western Sahara in line with  the relevant UN resolutions and the AU/OAU decisions.

DRC: The Assembly appealed to all Congolese actors to work for the preservation of the still fragile  gains in the path of peace and stability in the DRC, in particular the effective and consensual implementation of the 31 December 2016 Agreement, with a view to organizing elections, in December 2017. In this regard, the Assembly welcomed the initiatives so far taken by the Chairperson of the Commission, including the dispatching, from 29 to 30 May, in Kinshasa, of a mission led by Commissioner for Peace and Security and comprising the representatives of the United Nations, the ICGLR, SADC, guarantor institutions of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Region, signed on 24 February 2013, in Addis Ababa. The also Assembly called for the urgent appointment of the Chairman and Members of the National Follow up Council of the Agreement (CNSA) in order to establish the calendar of elections.

Burundi: The Summit reaffirmed  its commitment to the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Burundi  through the rapid launching of an inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue, under the aegis of the East African Community (EAC), with the support of the AU, under the leadership of the EAC Mediator, President Museveni of Uganda and his Facilitator, former President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania.  The Assembly called upon the Burundian authorities to take all the necessary steps to build the widest consensus possible on the ongoing process of revising the Constitution, with the participation of all stakeholders and on the basis of the Arusha Agreement  of 2000. In this regard, the Assembly also called for the rapid signing of the Memorandum of Understanding relating to the activities of the Human Rights Observers and the Military Experts of the AU;

CAR: The Assembly reaffirmed support to the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in CAR and called on all Central African stakeholders, the UN and other partners to support this process. The Assembly welcomed the signing in Rome, on 19 June 2017, under the facilitation of the Sant’Egidio community, of an agreement between armed groups, including a country wide ceasefire.  The Assembly URGES Member States and partners to pursue and increase their assistance to the CAR and to contribute to stabilization, post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts in the country.

Mali: The Assembly welcomed the timely initiative of the G5 Sahel, namely Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad, which led to the establishment of the G5 Sahel Joint Force. The Assembly further welcomed the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of resolution 2359 (2017) on the deployment of the G5 Joint Force expressed appreciation to the European Union (EU) for the financial support to the initiative of the G5 Sahel. The Assembly requested the Commission to organise as soon as possible, a meeting of the member countries of the Nouakchott Process to discuss their support for the G5 Sahel initiative, within the framework of the AU Strategy for the Sahel Region.

AU Road-map on Silencing the Guns by 2020

The Summit declared the month of September, of each year till 2020, as “Africa Amnesty Month” for the surrender and collection of illegally owned weapons/arms, in line with the African and international best practices. In this context, the Assembly Pronounced as follows:

  1. persons who surrender their illegally owned weapons/arms shall not be subjected to disclosure humiliation, arrest or prosecution;
  2. persons who fail to surrender their illegally owned weapons/arms beyond the Africa Amnesty month, shall automatically be considered to be in violation of national laws and the Amnesty and shall therefore be prosecuted according to the national laws of the Member States;
  3. all Member States, RECs/RMs as well as civil society organizations shall give wide publicity, through all media networks, to the Africa Amnesty Month within their territories and regions;
  4. Member States to adhere to and promote the Africa Amnesty Month, September each year, and mobilize their citizens to actively participate in the efforts to silence the guns.

The Summit appealed to all AU Member States and RECs/RMs to redouble efforts in further strengthening their governance institutions, as part of the continental mobilization to ensure strong response to illicit weapons, their proliferation and use in the continent, as well as to illicit financial flows, production of dangerous drugs, as well as trade in illicit goods and illegal exploitation of natural resources.

The Summit encouraged AU Member States to speed up signing and ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty adopted the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013, which has the potential to play an important role in silencing the guns in Africa.

The Summit requested the Commission, as also requested by the PSC in its Press Statement [PSC/PR/BR.(CDXXX)] of its 430th meeting held on 24 April 2014, to submit and present to the PSC, the outcomes of the continent-wide mapping exercise which was launched in early 2017, with a view to generating concrete data on patterns and trends in illegal weapons and ammunition inflows and cross-border flows, diversion and circulation, as well as gaps in control measures in Member States, in order to strengthen AU remedial efforts.

The Summit Acknowledged that as part of the efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and practices throughout the continent, political will and commitment is a fundamental necessity for success in silencing the guns. In this regard, the Assembly urged Member States, for those that have not yet done so, to submit their state reports on their implementation of the provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG).

The Summit also requested the AU Commission to convene a meeting of experts of AU Member States to review the OAU/AU treaty making process and make recommendations that will be submitted for consideration by the relevant AU policy organs in the course of 2017.

Panel of the Wise: The Summit decided to strengthen the preventive role of the Panel of the Wise by urging it to accelerate the establishment of national peace infrastructures, including by harnessing the efforts of national mechanisms. The summit also decided on the operationalization of “Pan African Network of Women Mediators“, as a subsidiary body of the Panel of the Wise.

Humanitarian Situation in Africa

The Executive Council expressed concern over the dire humanitarian situation of migrants in Mediterranean Sea trying to cross over to Europe and, welcomed the New York Declaration adopted at 71st UNGA and the commitment towards the adoption of a global compacts on refugees and on the safe and orderly migration, by 2018 as well as the comprehensive refugee response framework (CRRF) for large scale movements of refugees including tackling protracted situations.

Recognizing that 2019 will mark the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Situations in Africa and the 10th anniversary of the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, the Executive Council called on the Union to declare 2019 as the Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa : “towards durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa” and develop an implementation road map.

The Executive Council has also requested the following to the AU Commission:

  • In collaboration with the PRC Sub-Committee on Refugees, Returnees and IDPs and the Sub-Committee on the Special Emergency Fund to take all necessary measures to convene a Donors Pledging Conference, which should include the private sector.
  • In collaboration with the PRC to engage in further reflections on the situation of refugees to develop practical modalities to assist refugees in Africa;

 Work in close collaboration with relevant international partners to address migration flows of Africans through the Mediterranean Sea and other channels

5/ Institutional Reform: The Summit took note of President Kagame’s Progress Report and reiterated that the implementation process will consider proposals and suggestions made by Member States

6/ Full Integration of NEPAD into the African Union Commission: The NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC) is dissolved. AUC in consultation with the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NPCA), to take all necessary measures for the full integration of the NEPAD into the Commission and to report to 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly in January 2018.

7/ ECOSOCC

The Executive Council expressed concerns about the performance of ECOSOCC as an advisory role to the Union and requested the AUC in collaboration with ECOSOCC and Member States to implement the previous Executive Council Decisions EX.CL/Dec.833(XVII) on the establishment of a dedicated secretarial within CIDO and EX.CL/Dec.849(XXV) which calls for an in-depth study regarding the functioning of ECOSOCC since its inception to provide appropriate recommendations on modalities to revamp the operations of the organ, in line with the current reforms of the AU that would support the principle of Africa ownership

AU Commission to work out all legal, structural and financial implications affecting the relocation of ECOSOCC to Lusaka, Zambia and submit to the PRC for supplementary budget consideration

8/ Child Rights

The Executive Council adopted the theme for the Day of the African Child 2017: “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development” and requested Member States to commemorate the Day of the African Child

9/ New Commissioners elected:

  1. Human Resources, Science and Technology: ANYANG AGBOR Sarah MBI Enow Sarah (Cameroon)
  2. Economic Affairs: HARISON Victor (Madagascar)

10/ New members of the Panel of the Wise

Eastern Africa: Dr. Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe, from Uganda (re-appointed)

Northern Africa: Mr. Amr Moussa, from Egypt

Western Africa:, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, from Liberia

Central Africa: Mrs. Catherine Samba-Panza, from the Central African Republic

Southern Africa region, Mr. Hifikepunye Pohamba, from Namibia

Outgoing members of the Panel of the Wise shall become members of the Group of Friends of the Panel.

11/ January 2018 Summit and theme of the year: The 30th AU Summit will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme “Winning The Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation” as follow: PRC: 22 – 23 January 2018; Executive Council: 25 – 26 January 2018; Assembly: 28 – 29 January 2018.

July 2018 Summit: The 31st AU Summit will be held  in Mauritania as follow:  PRC : 25 – 26 June 2018; Executive Council: 28 – 29 June 201; Assembly: 1 – 2 July 2018.

12/ Which President Leads on what ?

(i) H.E. Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo: Leader and Chairperson of the High-Level Committee on Libya;

(ii) H.E. Mr. Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South African: Leader on African Union-United Nations Cooperation;

(iii) H.E. Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda: Leader on the Continent’s Political Integration;

(iv) H.E. Mr. Edgar Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia: Leader on Combating Early Marriage of Young Girls;

(v) H.E. Mr. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger: Leader on Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA)

(vi) H.E. Mr. Idriss Deby Itno, President of the Republic of Chad, Leader: of the Theme of the Year 2017;

(vii) H.E. Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Leader on the Implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme: (CAADP);

(viii) H.E. Mr. Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, President of the Togolese: Republic, Leader on Maritime Security, Safety and Development in Africa;

(ix) H.E. Mr. Abdelaziz Bouteflika: President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, Leader on the Thorny Issue of Combating Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa;

 (x) His Majesty Mohamed VI, King of Morocco, Leader on the Migration Issue;

(xi) H.E. Mr. Alassane Dramane Ouattara, President of the Republic of  Côte d’Ivoire, Leader on the Follow-Up of the Implementation of African Union Agenda 2063;

(xii) H.E. Mr. Nana Akufo Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana: Leader on Gender and Development Issues in Africa;

 xiii) H.E. Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Leader and Chairperson of the Committee of Ten (C10) on the United Nations Security Council Reform;

(xiv) H.E. Mr. Paul Kagamé, President of the Republic of Rwanda, Leader  on the Institutional Reform of the African Union;

 (xv) H.E. Mr. Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of the Gabonese Republic and Chairperson of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC);

13/ Hissen Habre Case

The Executive Council requested the Commission to submit the Statutes of the Trust Fund for victims of Hissène Habré crimes to the Specialized Technical Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs for Consideration and to present it to the Thirtieth Ordinary Session of the Assembly for adoption through the Executive Council January/February 2018;

The Council also authorized the Commission to take necessary consultations with the Government of the Republic of Chad on the establishment of the Secretariat of the Trust Fund, bearing in mind that, the Decision of the African Extraordinary Chambers, the Senegalese Courts will have jurisdiction over all matters arising from the implementation of the African Extraordinary Chambers’ decision.

The Council invited Members States, partners and any other governmental or non-governmental organisation to provide a voluntary contribute to the Trust Fund and fully support the African Union Commission, to ensure the prompt and effective reparation of the victims as per the Decision of the African Extraordinary Appeal Chambers.

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

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 Treaty” adopted in 1998 and entered into force in 2002. The ICC covers only the most serious crimes, including genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression, and this, only when States are unable or unwilling to judge these crimes themselves. The Court may be seized by a State Party, the Prosecutor and the United Nations Security Council. The Statute of the Court applies equally to all, without any distinction based on official capacity. In particular, official capacity as a Head of State or Government, a member of a Government or parliament, an elected representative or a government official shall in no case exempt a person from criminal responsibility under the ICC Statute (…): Article 27.

The Place of Africa in the ICC

Africa is the geographical bloc the most represented in the ICC. 124 countries are currently Parties to the Statute of the International Criminal Court: Africa: 34, Asia and the Pacific: 19, Eastern Europe: 18, Latin America and the Caribbean: 28, Western Europe and others: 25. The judges of the Court are equally from all regions of the world. Out of the 18 judges of the court 4 are Africans: Kenya (vice-president), Nigeria, DRC, and Botswana. Moreover, the prosecutor of the Court is Gambian.

Is the ICC targeting Africa or African leaders only?

To date, the ICC has opened investigations in 9 countries, out of which 8 are in Africa: Uganda, DRC, Sudan, CAR, Kenya, Libya, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali. This clearly demonstrates that the ICC operates primarily in Africa and it is true that today Africa is not the only continent where crimes of the ICC jurisdiction are committed… But did you know how and why this concentration of the ICC on Africa happened?

First, it was Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who the first referred the situation in the Northern Uganda to the ICC in January 2004 against his opponent Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army; a brutal armed group. Then it was the Government of DRC under President Joseph Kabila who referred the situation in the country to the ICC. This was followed by the Governments of Central Africa Republic (CAR) and Mali, who themselves referred the situation of their  countries to the ICC. In 2003, before even formally ratifying the ICC treaty, the government of Laurent Gbagbo had officially recognized the jurisdiction of the Court over its country, Cote d’Ivoire.

In short, the governments of 4 of the 8 African countries under investigation have themselves referred these cases to the ICC (Uganda, DRC, CAR, and Mali). The prosecutor of the ICC opened investigations on her own initiative in 2 countries with their full cooperation (Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire) and the UN Security Council had seized the court in two cases (Sudan and Libya).

It is therefore obvious from this observation that African leaders went to the ICC first (mostly against their opponents) and not the other way round  … but why? …Why are they against the ICC today?

Did African leaders understand the ICC differently?

In 2004, President Museveni seized the ICC against his opponent Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army … But during the investigations there were indications that Uganda’s National Army may have also committed crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC, and therefore may be liable to be tried by the ICC with an eventual involvement of President Museveni himself…. ‘No way!!!’ said President Museveni … the ICC suddenly became his enemy….Frankly, once you call the ICC to investigate a situation in your country  you can’t  dictate them which crime to look at and which to close their eye on in the same situation…This is simply an instrumentalisation of the Court.

In 2003, even before formally ratifying the ICC treaty, Côte d’Ivoire government of Laurent Gbagbo had officially recognized the jurisdiction of the ICC … Laurent Gbabo was likely targeting his political enemies … but the power has changed camp so far… It was therefore President Allassane Ouatarra who delivered Gbagbo to the ICC on the basis of the same special recognition signed by Gbagbo himself.

In 2004, President Joseph Kabila used the ICC to get rid of some embarrassing alleged criminals, but he was also delighted to see his political challengers Jean Pierre Bemba carried away by the ICC in a case linked to the CAR.

In 2004, the Government of Francois Bozize lodged a case with the ICC against war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the context of the violence in the CAR between 2002 and 2003

So, here are only the cases of Sudan and to a certain extent that of Libya that have escaped the control of the country where ICC investigation are taking place. Therefore, is the ICC targeting Africa or African leaders? Judge it yourself!

But why does not the ICC take care of the others?

Despite the above, this question is worth asking. I personally support on-going ICC investigations in Africa because innocent Africans have been massacred by Africans with the support and the blessing of other Africans regardless of whether they are Heads of State, Vice-President or otherwise. Their official functions do not confer on them the right to massacre citizens. Indeed, the status of the ICC does not recognize the official status of anybody … this is the innovative and progressive aspect of the court, in favour of the victims.

Why does the ICC delaying to take concrete actions in favour of Iraqi, Palestinian, Syrian, and Afghani … victims? (Even if some of those countries are currently under preliminary investigation)… The answers to this question are unfortunately not as “just” as one would like: Because these countries are not party to the ICC Statute, or because one or several powerful countries endowed with veto power in the UN Security Council would certainly oppose it for unfair reasons that we all know… In fact, only 2 of the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council are parties to the ICC: France and the United Kingdom.

Many unanswered questions on the ICC: Why does the ICC always go for the defeated rather than the victors who are also guilty of crimes such as in Côte d’Ivoire and maybe in the CAR and the DRC? Why is it that only the United Nations Security Council has the power to refer cases to the Court and even to temporarily stop investigations of the Court while this Council is the most unequal and the least representative institution in our world? Why do they oppose the UN General Assembly exercising the same power?

These questions and many others obviously weaken the credibility of the ICC but … who is responsible for it and who must correct it?

A Collective Withdrawal from the ICC by African Countries?

The ICC has problems, it is true, but I do not think that these problems justify the entire war launched against the Court by the African Union. Atrocities are actually committed, Africans are massacred by other Africans and there is no functional mechanism to date in Africa to punish the perpetrators of these international crimes and to do justice to the victims. With regard to Africa, the ICC is therefore the only functional judicial mechanism on this day to try these crimes.

The so-called “mass withdrawal strategy” of the AU is rather a document that indicates the grievances and demands of the African Union on the ICC and its functioning in particular the fact that the court targets only African leaders, the issue of immunity of the Heads of State and the request of the African Union to suspend the cases against Sudanese and Kenyan leaders. This document adopted by the last AU Summit also includes a study of national procedures for an eventual individual withdrawal of member states from the Court. “Collective withdrawal” from a treaty is an incorrect language. It does not exist in international law. The African Union may just be using it as an instrument of political pressure to catalyse changes in the ICC.

Is not the ICC a common heritage that should help us to create a more just world? All nations, including African nations and their stakeholders, must work together to improve the ICC. Abandoning it or leaving it should not be an option … and I am pleased that a number of African countries have entered reservations on the “mass withdrawal strategy” during the AU Summit discussions. I have just learned that Gambia, which had previously announced its withdrawal from the ICC, has changed its mind. The government has just informed the United Nations that Gambia remains a state party to the ICC Treaty. Good news !

A mass withdrawal of African countries from the ICC would be a shame, a terrible contempt for African victims and an encouragement for criminals and their supporters… I know it will not happen. In fact 17 AU member states rejected the strategy… This is a terrible failure for the minority that initiated it.

The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights: An African Solution?

The slogan “African Solutions for African Problems” is beautiful but it will only convince me under two conditions: 1/the bill of the African solution must also be paid by  Africa (I recall that Africa did not pay the bill of  Hissen Habré trial) and 2/ universal human rights and justice standards must be applied because human rights and  justice principles have no nationality or regional identity. They are simply and unequivocally universal.

Having said this, the body that ensures justice does not matter if justice is fair and equitable. But the reality is that the African Court of Human Rights today has only a “promise” of criminal jurisdiction. This means that the court has no jurisdiction over international crimes at this time and I do not see any political will from our countries to make it happen any time soon. Almost 20 years after the adoption of the Protocol that established the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (with no criminal jurisdiction) only 30 African States out of 54 ratified it. Moreover the amended protocol giving criminal jurisdiction to the Court has not been ratified by any African state, 2 years after its adoption in Malabo. The worst is that the Malabo Protocol ensured immunity for heads of state during their tenures. I consider this provision as an “authorization to kill” while on power and an “encouragement” to cling on power forever in order  to be protected against prosecutions…  The observation is clear: Withdrawing from the ICC before an African court is able to judge and punish serious and heinous crimes is simply guarantying impunity and abandoning the victims. This is against the spirit of the Constitutive Act of our African Union.

I also invite you  to read my interviews on the ICC  with Radio France Internationale and Le Monde Newspaper on the following links:

http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20170209-cour-penale-internationale-union-africaine-liaisons-ambigues-retrait-collectif

http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2017/02/03/l-afrique-veut-elle-vraiment-en-finir-avec-la-cour-penale-internationale_5074120_3212.html

Your comments are welcome on the blog or by email: assogbavi@me.com

La Cour Pénale Internationale ou l’Union Africaine : Qui Peut Rendre Justice aux Victimes Africaines ?

English version here

J’ai passé plusieurs années de ma carrière professionnelle à travailler sur les droits de l’homme et la justice d’abord en tant que fondateur et président du Juris-Club, puis  Membre de la Commission Nationale des Droits de l’Homme du Togo à la suite de mon élection par l’Assemblée Nationale du Togo et ensuite comme Officier de Liaison pour l’Afrique de la Coalition pour la Cour Pénale Internationale  à New York entre autre…Le conflit entre l’Union Africaine et la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) m’interpelle donc à plusieurs égards mais surtout en tant qu’Africain épris de justice.

Je vous propose dans les lignes qui suivent des réflexions personnelles sur les différents épisodes du feuilleton « CPI contre Union Africaine ».

L’Essentiel de la Cour Pénale Internationale (CPI)

La création de la Cour Pénale Internationale est un pas important dans les efforts déployés par l’humanité pour rendre notre monde plus juste. La cour a été créée par un traité de droit international « Le Traité de Rome » adopté en 1998 et entré en vigueur  en 2002. La CPI ne vise que les crimes les plus graves notamment le génocide, les crimes de guerres, les crimes contre l’humanité, et le crime d’agression et ce, seulement lorsque les Etats ne sont pas en mesure ou n’ont pas la volonté de juger ces crimes eux même. La Cour peut être saisie par un état partie, le procureur et le Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies. Le Statut de la Cour s’applique à tous de manière égale, sans aucune distinction fondée sur la qualité officielle. En particulier la qualité de chef d’État ou de gouvernement, de membre d’un gouvernement ou d’un parlement, de représentant élu ou d’agent d’un État, n’exonère en aucun cas de la responsabilité pénale au regard du Statut (…) : Article 27.

La Place de l’Afrique dans la CPI

L’Afrique est le bloc géographique le plus représenté à la CPI. 124 pays sont présentement États Parties au Statut de la Cour pénale internationale : Afrique : 34, Asie et Pacifiques : 19, Europe Orientale : 18, Amérique Latine et Caraïbes : 28, Europe Occidentale et autres : 25. Les juges de la cour proviennent équitablement de toutes les régions du monde. Des 18 juges de la cour 4 sont Africains : Kenya (vice-présidente), Nigeria, RDC, Botswana. Par ailleurs, la procureure de la cour est Gambienne.

La CPI vise-t-elle particulièrement l’Afrique ou les Leaders Africains ?

A ce jour la CPI a ouvert des enquêtes dans 9 pays dont 8 en Afrique : Ouganda, RDC, Soudan, RCA, Kenya, Libye, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali.  Ceci démontre clairement que la CPI opère essentiellement en Afrique et il est vrai qu’aujourd’hui l’Afrique n’est pas le seul continent ou les crimes relevant de la compétence de la CPI sont commis mais saviez- vous comment et pourquoi est-on arrivé à cette concentration des activités de la CPI en Afrique ?

D’abord c’est le Président Ougandais Yoweri Museveni  qui a été le premier Chef d’Etat à saisir la CPI de la situation au Nord de l’Ouganda en Janvier 2004 contre son opposant Joseph Kony et l’Armée de Résistance du Seigneur, un groupe armé particulièrement violent et responsable d’atrocités. Ensuite c’est le gouvernement de la RDC sous le Président Joseph Kabila qui a saisi la CPI de la situation dans son pays. S’en sont suivi les gouvernements de la République Centrafricaine, et du Mali qui ont eux aussi saisi la cour. En 2003, avant même de ratifier formellement le traité de la CPI le gouvernement de Laurent Gbagbo avait officiellement reconnu  la compétence de la CPI sur la Cote d’Ivoire.

En bref, les gouvernements de 4 des 8 pays africains sous enquête ont eux-mêmes saisi la CPI (Ouganda, RDC, RCA, Mali). La procureure de la cour a ouvert des enquêtes de sa propre initiative dans 2 pays avec la pleine coopération de leurs gouvernements (Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire) et le Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unis avait saisi la cour dans 2  autres cas (Soudan et   Libye).

Il est donc évident eu égard à ce constat   que ce sont les leaders Africains qui sont allés vers la CPI et non pas le contraire… mais pourquoi ? Et pourquoi sont – ils contre la Cour aujourd’hui ?

Les Leaders Africains avaient-ils compris la CPI autrement ?

En 2004, le Président Museveni avait saisi la CPI contre son opposant Joseph Kony et  l’Armée de Résistance du Seigneur… Mais au cours des enquêtes il y eu des indices selon lesquelles l’Armée régulière de l’Ouganda (UPDF) aurait aussi commis des crimes relevant de la compétence de la Cour, et donc susceptible d’être jugés par la CPI avec une possibilité d’implication du Président Museveni lui-même…. Pas question !!! selon le president  Museveni… la CPI devient du coup son ennemi juré ….Franchement, une fois que vous appelez la CPI pour enquêter sur une situation dans votre pays, vous ne pouvez pas lui dicter quels crimes regarder et sur quels crimes fermer les yeux dans la même situation … Ceci serait  une instrumentation pure et simple de la Cour.

En 2003, si, avant même de ratifier formellement le traité de la CPI, le gouvernement de Laurent Gbagbo avait officiellement reconnu  la compétence de la Cour sur la Cote d’Ivoir, Laurent Gbabo visait vraisemblablement ses ennemis politiques… mais le pouvoir avait changé de camp par la suite; c’était donc le Président Allassane Ouatarra qui livra Laurent Gbagbo à la CPI sur la base de la même reconnaissance spéciale signée par Mr. Gbagbo lui-même.

En 2004, Joseph Kabila s’est servi de la CPI pour se débarrasser de certains criminels de guerres présumés et gênants mais il s’était certainement aussi réjoui de voir son challenger politique Jean Pierre Bemba, emporté par la CPI dans une affaire liée à la RCA.

En 2004 le Gouvernement de Francois Bozize avait saisi la CPI contre  des crimes de guerre et crimes contre l’humanité qui auraient été commis dans le contexte des violences en République Centrafricaine entre 2002 et 2003.

Il n’y a donc que le cas du Soudan et dans une certaine mesure,  celui de la Libye qui ont échappé au contrôle du pays en question. La CPI vise-t-elle l’Afrique ou les leaders Africains ? Jugez-en vous-même !

Mais pourquoi la CPI ne s’occupe-t-elle pas des autres ?

Malgré ce qui précède, cette question vaut la peine d’être posée. Je soutiens personnellement toutes les enquêtes de la cour en Afrique car des innocents africains  ont été effectivement massacrés par des africains sous des ordres et avec le soutien d’autres Africains peu importe  si les présumés  coupables sont Chefs d’Etat, Vice-Président ou autre. Leurs fonctions officielles ne leur confèrent pas le droit de tuer ou de faire massacrer les citoyens. D’ailleurs le statut de la CPI ne reconnait pas la qualité officielle de qui que ce soit… c’est cela même le coté innovateur  de la CPI et ce, en faveur des victimes.

Pourquoi la CPI tarde à agir concrètement en faveur des victimes Irakiennes, Palestiniennes, Syriennes, Afghanes… ? (Même si certains de ces pays sont présentement sous enquête préliminaires)… les réponses ne sont malheureusement pas aussi « justes » qu’on le souhaiterait : Parce que ces pays ne sont pas parties au statut de la CPI, ou encore parce qu’un ou plusieurs pays puissants dotés du droit de veto au Conseil de Sécurité s’y opposeraient certainement pour des raisons injustes que nous connaissons tous… En effet seuls 2 des 5 membres permanents du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies sont parties à la CPI : la France et le Royaume Uni.

Beaucoup de Questions sans Réponses : Pourquoi la CPI ne s’attaque le plus souvent qu’aux vaincus et non pas aux vainqueurs qui seraient aussi coupables de crimes comme en côte d’Ivoire  et peut être en RCA et en RDC ?  Pourquoi c’est au Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies seulement qu’il est donné  le droit de référer des cas à la Cour  et même de différer des enquêtes de la Cour  alors que ce Conseil est l’institution la plus injuste et la moins représentative de notre monde ? Pourquoi s’oppose-t-on à ce que l’Assemblée Générale des Nations  Unies exerce ce même pouvoir ?

Ces  questions et bien d’autres affaiblissent évidement la crédibilité de la CPI mais… qui en est responsable et qui doit et la corriger ?

Un Retrait Collectif de la CPI par l’Afrique ?

La CPI a des problèmes, il est vrai, mais je ne pense pas que ces problèmes  justifient toute la guerre déclenchée contre la Cour par l’Union Africaine. Des atrocités sont effectivement commises, des Africains sont massacrés  en masse par d’autres Africains et il n’existe aucun mécanisme fonctionnel à ce jour pour punir les coupables de ces crimes internationaux et rendre justice aux victimes. En ce qui concerne l’Afrique, la CPI est donc le seul mécanisme juridictionnel fonctionnel en ce jour pour connaitre de ces crimes…

Comme son nom ne l’indique pas, la « stratégie de retrait collectif » de l’Union Africaine est plutôt un document qui énumère les griefs et revendications de l’Union Africaine contre la CPI et son fonctionnement  notamment le fait que la Cour ne cible que les leaders Africains, la question de l’immunité des Chefs d’Etat et la demande de l’Union Africaine, adressée au Conseil de Sécurité  de suspendre les poursuites contre les dirigeants Soudanais et Kenyans. Le document, adopté par le dernier Sommet de l’Union comporte aussi une étude des procédures nationales  de retrait individuel éventuel d’Etats membres de l’UA.  Le «retrait collectif» d’un traité est un abus de langage. Il n’existe pas en droit international. L’Union Africaine l’utilise peut être comme un instrument de pression politique pour catalyser des changements à la CPI…

Mais la CPI n’est-elle pas un patrimoine commun qui doit nous aider à créer un monde plus juste ? Toutes les nations y compris africaines et leurs composantes ne doivent-elles pas œuvrer ensemble pour l’améliorer ? L’abandonner ou la quitter ne doit pas être une option… et je me réjouis du fait que 16 pays Africains aient émis des réserves sur le texte lors des débats au cours du dernier Sommet.

Je viens même d’apprendre que la Gambie qui avait précédemment annoncé son retrait de la CPI a changé d’avis. Le gouvernement vient d’informer les Nations Unies que la Gambie reste bel et bien état partie au Statut de la CPI. Bonne nouvelle !

Un retrait en grand nombre des pays Africains de la CPI serait une honte, un mépris terrible pour les victimes Africaines et un encouragement pour les bourreaux et potentiel bourreaux…   je sais que cela n’arrivera pas.

La Cour Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples : Une Solution Africaine ?

Le Slogan « Solutions Africaine aux Problèmes Africains » est bien beau mais il ne me convainc qu’a deux conditions : La facture de la solution africaine doit être aussi payée  par l’Afrique (je rappelle  que l’Afrique n’avait pas payé la facture du procès de Hissen Habré) et les normes universelles des droits de l’homme et de justice doivent être appliquées car les droits de l’homme et les principes de justice n’ont pas de nationalité ou d’identité régionale . Ils sont simplement universels.

Ceci étant dit, l’organe qui rend la justice importe peu si cette justice est juste et équitable mais la réalité est que la Cour Africaine des Droits de l’Homme n’a en ce jour qu’une « promesse » de compétence pénale. Ce qui veut dire qu’elle ne peut pas connaitre des crimes internationaux  en ce moment et je ne vois aucune volonté politique de la part de nos états de le concrétiser bientôt. Presque 20 ans après l’adoption du Protocol de la Cour Africaine des Droits de l’Homme et des Peuples (sans compétence pénale)  seuls 30 Etats Africains sur 54 l’on ratifié. Par ailleurs le protocole amendé  donnant compétence pénale à  la Cour n’a été ratifié en ce jour par aucun état africain, 2 ans après son adoption à Malabo. Le constat est donc clair : Se retirer de la CPI avant qu’une cour Africaine soit capable de juger et punir les crimes graves c’est tout simplement garantir l’impunité et mépriser les victimes. Ce qui est encore navrant est que le Protocole de Malabo consacre l’immunité des chefs d’état dans l’exercice de leur fonction, même pour des crimes internationaux. Je considère cela non seulement comme « un permis de tuer » sans soucis d’être inquiété  mais aussi une incitation pour les dictateurs de s’accrocher indéfiniment au pouvoir. Ceci est aussi contraire à l’Acte Constitutif de notre Union Africaine.

Je vous invite aussi à lire mes interviews sur Radio France Internationale  et le journal Le Monde sur le même sujet à partir des liens suivants :

http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20170209-cour-penale-internationale-union-africaine-liaisons-ambigues-retrait-collectif

http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2017/02/03/l-afrique-veut-elle-vraiment-en-finir-avec-la-cour-penale-internationale_5074120_3212.html

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