Do you know which Heads of State/Government champion your issues at the African Union?

Over the years the Assembly of the African Union has been appointing Heads of State/Government to champion/lead on key issues and initiatives on the continental agenda. The aim is to give greater awareness and to mobilize continental and global support for the implementation of those initiatives/issues. Thematic assignments have played a role in enabling the Union to tackle wide array of issues on its agenda.

Who are those Champions?

  1. Continent’s Political Integration: Republic of Uganda: President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
  2. Combating Early Marriage of Young Girls: Republic of Zambia : President Edgar Chagwa Lungu
  3. Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA): Republic of Niger: President  Mahamadou Issoufou
  4. Harnessing the Demographic Dividend Through Investment in Youth: Republic of Chad: President  Idriss Deby Itno
  5. Domestic Health Financing: Republic of Rwanda: President  Paul Kagame
  6. Institutional Reform of the African Union: Republic of Rwanda: President Paul Kagame
  7. Implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP): Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia: Prime Minister  Abiy Ahmed
  8. Maritime Security, Safety and Development in Africa: Republic of Togo: President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe
  9. Combating Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa: People’s Republic of Algeria: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
  10. Migration: Kingdom of Morocco: King Mohamed VI
  11. Implementation of the African Union Agenda 2063: Republic of Cote D’Ivoire: President  Alassane Dramane Ouattara
  12. Gender and Development Issues in Africa: Republic of Ghana: President Nana Akufo Addo
  13. Committee of Ten (C10) on the United Nations Security Council reform: Republic of Sierra Leone: President  Julius Maada Bio
  14. Education, Science and Innovation: Republic of Senegal: President Mr. Macky Sall
  15. AUDA/NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC): Republic of Senegal: President Macky Sall
  16. Malaria: Kingdom of Eswatini: King Mswati III
  17. Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation: Federal Republic of Nigeria: President  Muhammadu Buhari
  18. Climate Change (CAHOSCC): Republic of Gabon: President Ali Bongo Ondimba
  19. Revitalization and operationalization of the African Union Policy on Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD): Arab Republic of Egypt: President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi
  20. Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation: Burkina Faso: President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré
  21. Refugees, Returnees and Internal Displaced Persons (IDP): Republic of Equatorial Guinea: President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
  22. High-Level Committee on Libya: Republic of Congo: President Denis Sassou Nguesso
  23. African Union- United Nations Cooperation: Republic of South Africa: President Cyril Ramaphosa

This list may not be exhaustive. Please drop me a line on assogbavi@me.com should you have additional information or suggestions on this.

Merci !

African Union Summit February 2019: What is on the Agenda?

The 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) will be held at the headquarters of the Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as follows:

–          Executive Council (Ministers of Foreign Affairs): 7th – 8th February 2019

–          Assembly (Heads of State and Government): 10th – 11th February 2019

Citizens’ Pre-Summit Gatherings: The Gender is my Agenda (GIMAC) pre-summit is scheduled for the 3rd and 4th February and the    7th Citizens’ Continental Conference will be held from 4th -7th February in Addis Ababa.

As usual, I am sharing below a personal overview on what is expected to be discussed during the Summit.

Closed Summit

A decision taken in January 2017 by the Assembly of the Union stipulated that “External parties shall only be invited to AU Summits on exceptional basis and for a specific purpose determined by the interests on the African Union”. According to a note verbal recently circulated by the AU Commission, Addis Ababa based Representatives of non-African Union Member States and International Organizations accredited to the African Union will be allowed to attend the opening and closing ceremonies of the Summit.

Organizations that are involved in an approved side event in relation to the agenda of the Summit will only have access to the specific event and not to other meetings of the Summit.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the Driving Seat for 2019

President Paul Kagame (Rwanda) will step down from the rotational chairmanship of the Union and President El-Sisi (Egypt) will take over for the next 12 months. As part of its chairmanship priorities, it is expected that Egypt prioritizes a revitalization of the AU Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) framework policy in link with peace building in Africa and as part of the solutions to forced displacement in the continent.

What is on the Agenda?

au summit image

The AU theme for the year 2019: “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa” will be officially launched during the Summit and a road-map of activities will be considered and eventually approved to be implemented throughout the year and beyond. Beside the main theme, the following key issues will likely dominate the Summit agenda:

–          Institutional Reform of the Union and its implementation: President Kagame will present an overview of the reform and the Chairperson of the AU Commission will report on its implementation. A report of the Commission regarding the alignment of the legal instruments will be considered as instructed by the Extraordinary Summit held in November last year.

–          State of Peace and Security in Africa and the implementation of the African Union Road-map of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns by 2020.

–          Humanitarian Situation in Africa.

–          African Peer Review mechanism and the State of Governance in Africa.

–          Post-Cotonou negotiations with the European Union.

–          Free Movement in Africa: The AU Commission will present, for adoption, guidelines on the design, production and issuance of the African Passport to boost free movement on the continent.

–          Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development: Egypt is expected to table an agenda item on revitalizing and operationalizing the African Union’s policy on PCRD.

–          Migration: Morocco is expected to present a report on the establishment of the African Union Migration Observatory.

–          It is also expected that recent and ongoing developments in the continent such as the post-election situation in DRC and the raise of terrorist attacks  will make it to the Summit’s agenda.

The following draft legal instruments are scheduled to be considered and adopted:

–          Draft Treaty for the Establishment of the African Medicines Agency

–          Draft Statute of the African Audio Visual and Cinema Commission

–     Draft Statutes of the African Union International Centre for Girls’ and Women’s Education in Africa

–          Draft African Union Transitional Justice Policy

Elections: The Summit will elect/appoint the following:

–          5 Members of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union: The following countries are candidates for the PSC: Burundi (Central),  – Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan (Eastern) –  Algeria (Northern) – Lesotho (Southern) – Nigeria (Western)

–          1 Member of the African Union Commission on International Law

–          1 Member of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

–          7 Members of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption

About the AU theme of the Year 2019: Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa” 

Africa is home for more than one-third of the world’s forcibly displaced persons, including more than 6 million refugees and asylum seekers and 14.5 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Forced displacement in Africa is caused mostly by conflicts, poor governance, human rights violations and environmental issues. In the framework of the long-term vision contained in the Agenda 2063, the African Union adopted the Common African Position on Humanitarian Effectiveness (CAP) and called for a ten-year period of transformation to strengthen humanitarian action on the continent. The CAP defines Africa’s new humanitarian architecture including the creation of an African Humanitarian Agency as a vehicle for Africa’s humanitarian action. The new humanitarian architecture also emphasizes addressing root causes and achieving sustainable solutions, as well as bolstering the capacity of States and other stakeholders to tackle the challenges of forced displacement on the continent.

Throughout 2019, the African Union will mark the theme of the year focusing on refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and returnees. The Union will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 1969 Organization of African Unity Convention governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (OAU Refugee 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 ( the Kampala Convention).

The draft Road-map for 2019 to be considered by the AU Summit for approval includes among others the following activities:

–          6 regional consultative meetings of AU Member States and other stakeholders, focused on refugees, returnees, IDPs or statelessness issues, as well as cross-cutting consultative meetings to focus on issues affecting all these persons of concern.

–          An African Humanitarian Summit on Refugees, IDPs and Returnees to be held in November 2019, which will generate state commitments in a decision/declaration and pledging of requisite resources for the implementation of the CAP on Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa.

–          A multi-year law and policy humanitarian action training.

–          Promotion of  ratification and  implementation of the AU Convention on IDPs -Kampala Convention.

While focusing on the theme of the year 2019 and the institutional reform of the Union for a greater impact is commendable, it is important for our Union to ensure that, embracing a new theme each year does not stop or slow down efforts and investments towards implementation of commitments, policies, road-maps etc, that we have adopted under the themes of previous years. For example, what have been the impacts of the AU Year of Human Rights (2016 theme) on African people’s life?  where are we with our commitments under the Road-map for Harnessing Demographic Dividend in Africa  (2017 theme)? How much have we advanced in fighting corruption in the continent (2018 theme) ? … How close are we to “silence the guns by 2020″as decided several years ago? Our Union’s Member States must regularly give account to citizens on what has been achieved at national level on those previous commitments, and, this accountability mechanism should be part of  the ongoing institutional reform of the Union. The AU Commission should be empowered to carry this on by holding Member States accountable for the implementation of adopted policies.  

It is also important to keep in mind that people of Africa aspire to a greater democracy, rule of law and the respect of all their human rights, fundamental liberties as well as good governance, which have been reaffirmed in several AU instruments and recognized as our shared values. Those values are the pathways to our 2063 and 2030 aspirations. There are no other ways. The African Union has the necessary leverage to make it happen. Let’s just do it.

Feel free to drop me an email on assogbavi@me.com should you have any questions, suggestions or comments.

If you want to receive an automatic alert whenever I post an article please subscribe to the blog on the left side at the bottom of this page.

African Union Reform Decisions: How will Change Happen?

The Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, dedicated to the institutional reform of the Union ended this 18 November 2018 in Addis Ababa.

Here are the main decisions and a few personal reflections on how change may happen in our continent.

This blog comes to update/complement my previous blog published prior to the Summit and should be read together with it.

Adopted New Structure & Portfolios for the African Union Commission

The new structure of the AU Commission will be as follows:

  • Chairperson of the AUC
  • Deputy Chairperson of the AUC
  • 6 Portfolios/Commissioners as follow (instead of 8 previously)

1) Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment;

2) Economic Development, Trade and Industry and Mining

3) Education, Science, Technology and Innovation;

4) Infrastructure and Energy;

4) Political Affairs, Peace & Security;

6) Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development

The change include mainly the following:

–   Merging of Political Affairs and the Peace and Security Departments. The Humanitarian Division previously under Political Affairs moves to the Social Affairs Department renamed

–   Merging of Economic Affairs and the Trade & Industry Departments with addition of Mining

– Human Resource, Science and Technology Department is renamed as Education, Science, Technology and Innovation

– Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment added to Agriculture Rural Development Department

This new structure will come into effect at the end of the current tenure of the AU Commission in 2021.

Important principles to guide the selection process of the senior leadership of the Commission;

  1. Equitable regional representation and gender parity;
  2. Predictable inter and intra-regional rotation following the English alphabetical order to be applied to each senior leadership position
  3. Attracting and retaining Africa’s top talent;
  4. Accountable and effective leadership and management;
  5. Transparent and merit-based selection;
  6. The principle of rotational gender parity shall be applied to the posts of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson; ensuring that if the Chairperson is male then the Deputy Chairperson shall be a female and vice versa

The Mandate of the African Union Development Agency – AUDA (Transformed NEPAD) adopted as follow:

  • To coordinate and execute priority regional and continental projects to promote regional integration towards the accelerated realization of Agenda 2063;
  • To strengthen capacity of African Union Member States and regional bodies; advance knowledge-based advisory support, undertake the full range of resource mobilization, and serve as the continent’s technical interface with all Africa’s development stakeholders and development partners.

The Assembly called for the conclusion of a permanent Host Country Agreement for the African Union Development Agency (AUDA) with the Government of South Africa.

Reform of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)

  • APRM budget to be integrated in the statutory Union budget funded by Member States: This will bring the institution to a more financial stability but may also incite more member states to join it.
  • APRM capacity to be strengthen in collaboration with the African Governance Architecture and  its functional autonomy enhanced to deliver on its extended mandate,
  • APRM to present an update on the State of Governance in Africa and to report to the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly scheduled to take place in February 2019

An ongoing process

This reform is an on-going process. More and more organs of the Union will be reviewed as we move and the process will surely not stop with the end of President Kagame’s tenure as Chairperson of the Union in January 2019. He will remain the champion of the reform and the issue is likely to remain on the top of AU agenda given the large principle adherence of member states to the reform agenda, despite the divergence  of opinion on the How…

In the end, the refocusing of the AU to a few continental issues, wanted by President Kagame has not happened. We only see a restructuring/reshuffling of portfolios… Now it is important to leverage the principles of subsidiarity, complementarity and comparative advantage while discussing the division of labor with the Regional Economic Communities.

How will change happen in Africa?

My personal view here is that, the restructuring of the Commission and other organs of the Union, to better deliver on their mandates, and the adoption of performance based management principles are excellent steps ahead. However, African people’s life can be really impacted only, if the adopted decisions, standards and values are effectively implemented at national level by member states. For this to happen, there is a need for an effective accountability mechanism to be handled by a strong, empowered and capacitated AU Commission and relevant organs vis a vis member states in transparent and objective manners… and as I pointed it out in my previous blog, a sanction regime for the non-implementation of African Union decisions at national level is still the missing element in the reform agenda. It should be discussed soon. The overall rate of implementation of AU decisions at national level is below 15% according to various reports… We should fix this by all means in order to get to the Africa we want.

The Reform of the African Union in 7 Questions

African Heads of State and Government are gathering this weekend 17 & 18 November 2018 in Addis Ababa for an Extraordinary Summit to discuss the institutional reform of the African Union being championed by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

I would like to share the following 7 key aspects of the reform (my personal views)

Please note that I have published updated and additional information to this article by the link here.

  1. What are the Key Reform Areas?

In his submission titled “The Imperative to strengthen our Union” adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State of the Union, President Kagame identified four main areas that need urgent actions:

  • The AU to focus only on key priorities with continental scope: This will help the Union to make a real difference on these areas in improving the life of African citizens. Anything else could be covered at regional and national levels
  • Realign Africa Union institutions to deliver against those priorities
  • Ensure efficient and effective management of the African Union both politically and at the operational level
  • Finance the Union with African resources
  1. What are the Proposed Continental Priorities to be handled by the African Union
  • Political Affairs
  • Peace & Security
  • Economic Integration
  • Africa’s Global Voice
  1. What are the key decisions taken so far in relation to the reform? a/ The institution of a 0.2 %t Levy on all eligible imported goods into the Continent to finance the African Union Operational, Program and Peace Support Operations Budgets. The amounts collected from the Levy shall be automatically paid by the national administration, into an account opened for the African Union with the Central Banks of each Member State for transmission to the African Union in accordance with each Member State’s assessed contribution. If this decisions is fully implemented, the Union will be able to cover 100% of its operational cost, 75% of its programme budget and 25% of the Union’s peace support operations. Currently, around 60% of the total budget of the African Union is financed by external donors. b/ There will be only one AU Summit per year starting from 2019, instead of two Summits currently held. The Mid-year Summit will now become a Coordination Meeting with the Regional Economic Communities (RECS). The first of its kind will be held in June/July 2019 in Niamey, Niger. The Permanent Representatives Committee and the Executive Council will normally convene as before, prior to the Coordination Meeting. c/ The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency is transformed into the African Union Development Agency (AUDA) with an enhanced mandate likely to be adopted by the extraordinary session of the AU Assembly.

 4. What are the Reform issues on which there is no full consensus among member states?

  • A number of AU Member States, for different reasons are not fully onboard with the 0.2% levy on imports to finance the Union.
  • The new structure of the AU Commission, the mode of designation and the authority/power of its leadership are viewed differently by AU Member States. The power dynamic between the Chairperson of the AU Commission and the Commissioners is another issue on which member States have divergent opinions.
  • The role of the Permanent Representative Committee and its relation with the AU Commission have been pointed out by President Kagame as an area to review. Here also, Member states positions are unlikely to match each other.
  • The planned reform of the Peace and Security Council of the Union would probably show serious diverging opinions within Member State.
  1. What are the proposals on the table for the new Structure of the African Union Commission?

The proposed new structure of the AU Commission to be considered by the Summit is as follows:

  • Chairperson of the AUC
  • Deputy Chairperson of the AUC
  • 6 Commissioners as follow (instead of 8 previously)

1) Agriculture, Rural Development, Environment;

2) Economic Development, Trade and Industry;

3) Education, Science, Technology and Innovation;

4) Infrastructure and Energy;

4) Political Affairs, Peace & Security;

6) Health, Social Development, Women and Youth Empowerment;

The proposed change include mainly the following:

–     Merging of Political Affairs and the Peace and Security Departments

–     Merging of Economic Affairs and the Trade & Industry Departments

–     Women/Gender Directorate previously under the Chairperson’s cabinet moves to Health and Social Development (previously Social Affairs Department)

–  Youth Division previously under Human Resource, Science and Technology Department moves to Health and Social Development

–  Human Resource, Science and Technology Department is renamed as Education, Science, Technology and Innovation

It is also being proposed to create a non-elected post of Director-General to lead the operational coordination of the Commission’s departments and non-elected staff. The current post of Secretary-General may be renamed Secretary to the Commission.

The Summit will consider a new mode and procedure of designation of the leadership of the AU Commission but it is not expected that the Chairperson will be granted the right to select his/her deputy and the commissioners or even to be part of the process as some actors have proposed. Gender parity will be maintained within the leadership team and even reinforced at the top level. This means for example that if the Chairperson is a male the deputy should be a female or vice versa.

There is  a strong push to enhance performance management at the senior leadership of the Commission. The Summit may order a goal and target setting mechanism and an annual submission of performance report by the Chairperson of the Commission.

The new selection policy will come into effect at the end of the current tenure of the Commission in January 2021.

  1. On the effective division of labor between the African Union, Regional Economic Communities Member States and other Continental Organizations

Deliberations may also include the establishment of a clear division of labor and effective collaboration among the AU, the RECs, the Regional Mechanisms (RMs) and the harmonization of policies across the board. The AU Commission together with the RECs and relevant organs would have to develop a proposal on an effective division of labor to be submitted to the first Mid-Year Coordination Meeting in June/July 2019. There needs to be added emphasis on the division of labor in matters of peace in security, currently governed by the principles of subsidiarity and comparative advantage which remain wanting regarding clarity. Redundancy and overlap in mandates and work should be abandoned in favor of efficiency and cooperation.

  1. What are the Missing Elements in the reform:

a/ Accountability for the implementation of AU decisions, treaties policy standards and shared values by member states at the national level

There is an ongoing interesting discussion on improving the African peer review mechanism (a voluntary mechanism), which is a positive development, but for our Union to be able to make a real difference in the life of African people, it is imperative to think about a robust accountability mechanism for the implementation of agreed policies, standards and values at national level.  The African Union Commission, other organs of the Union and ordinary citizens & their formations should be deliberately empowered and enabled to hold accountable our leaders for the realizations of their promises.

We need a courageous debate on sanction, not only sanctions for non-payment of Member States accessed contribution but also sanctions for non-implementation of agreed policies and the values on which the Constitutive Act of the Union is built as well as the seven aspirations of our Agenda 2063, the Africa we want.

b/ Civic Space/Citizens’ participation: A critical enabler of Agenda 2063’s vision is citizens’ rights to organise and their ability to stand against human rights abuses, poverty, inequality, injustice, corruption etc. The reform of the African Union should make a concrete way for independent African Civil Society formations to be able to contribute meaningfully in the affairs of the Union including an efficient mechanism for access to information. It is a common knowledge that the current settings are not meeting the expected results.

Please share your comments on this blog or by email: assogbavi@me.com  

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

34234-slide-junesummit_website_webbanner_1440x360_v2

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.

If you want to receive an alert whenever  I post an article please follow the blog on the left side of  this page.

Reforming AU’s ECOSOCC: We Should Get it Right…

Friends;

The Executive Council of the African Union (Ministers of Foreign Affairs) has ordered an in-depth audit exercise on the functioning  of ECOSOCC (Economic Social and Cultural Council of the African Union) since its inception. This exercise is expected to provide appropriate recommendations on ways and means to revamp the operations of the organ that is supposed to ensure Civil Society contribution within the African Union policy making process.

Invited by the African Union Commission, I have had the opportunity to address the group of experts launching this process on 30th October 2017 in Seychelles. In my presentation, after making some preliminary remarks on the importance of citizens’ participation in the AU decision making process, I have looked at practices in similar bodies in other institutions around the world, before making key recommendations on what needs to be changed to make ECOSOCC effective and efficient.

Here is my presentation

Please feel free to drop your comments on this blog or to assogbavi@me.com

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

===============

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.

dsc_0585.jpg

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 accountability of NGOs…

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

I thank you!

Opinions in this presentation are absolutely personal.