Generating Knowledge and Evidence to Promote Inclusive & Sustainable Development

Generating knowledge and evidence to support inclusive & sustainable development: I recently made the case, during a key note speech in the Hague, Netherlands, for different stakeholders – academia, researchers, NGOs, practitioners policymakers, UN bodies etc – to work together. The seminar was on  ‘Knowledge and Research: Theory and Practice for Dialogue and Dissent’. Participating researchers came from various countries working on the research programme ‘New roles of CSOs for inclusive development’, staff of CSOs and NGOs, and staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands involved with the policy framework for Dialogue and Dissent came together to discuss and reflect on knowledge and experience concerning the role of civil society in influencing pro-poor policies.

The original article was published here.

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen!

Today, we aim to have a conversation about building bridges between different stakeholders – including academic researchers, researchers working in non-governmental organizations (NGOs), practitioners and policymakers – and we seek linkages and collaboration among those different actors when it comes to generating knowledge and evidence in support of civil society taking up its role in pro-poor policies. Under the ‘New roles of CSOs for inclusive development’ (the Assumptions Programme), we reflect on the following three sub-themes:

  • Evolving relationship between global, regional, national and local civil society actors
  • Legitimacy and effectiveness of civil society organizations (CSOs) in influencing
  • Stretching civic space in practice

While discussing this, we should be deliberately guided by how we generate, use and integrate evidence from academia, practitioners and NGOs in order to increase impact.

Evolving relationship between global, regional, national and local civil society actors

There are many reasons for universities and NGOs/CSOs to explore working together to influence policy and practice. NGOs and CSOs can build on the trust enjoyed by university research, while universities can capitalize on NGOs and CSOs’ success in reaching policy and practice.

NGO research is rooted in real life – the experiences of partners and communities. NGOs are pioneers in participatory methods and their media teams are quick to make their findings noticed by policymakers. NGO people are ‘doers’ and activists, with little time for theorizing. They think in terms of guidelines and toolkits. They tell stories that stick in the minds of policymakers. On the other hand, research from universities is better structured. As academics, they have the education to make research smarter and they enjoy more credibility. They can take a more long-term reflective perspective, which activists often lack. Research from universities is the most trusted, but the least used, source of evidence. NGO research is generally less trusted than university research, but their output is far more likely to be read than that of academia. On a timescale, the focus of NGOs is urgent, immediate and often in response to events. Academics work to a different rhythm, both in terms of the issues they address and the way they respond to them.

So, there is a strong need for more ‘knowledge brokers’, not only to bridge the gap between science and policy, but also to synthesize and transform evidence into an effective and usable form for policy and practice. We should talk to each other early on: academics should not wait until they have written a paper before looking for an NGO or knowledge broker to help disseminate its message. At the same time, NGOs (or donors) should not decide their policy line, then commission an academic to do policy-based evidence making. We should create research ideas together. Donors, could also help by encouraging collaboration through 50/50 funding, half for action and half for research. Better cooperation among those actors would lead to better policies – policies that meet the most important and urgent needs of the people.

I have spent 15 years of my career seeking to promote impactful citizen’s participation at national and Pan African levels. I would like to share a few stories on how the actions of NGO actors have had a serious influence on policies. In 2007, Oxfam, the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and Safer World published a report titled Africa’s Missing Billions1, showing how Africa suffers enormously from conflict and armed violence, costing the continent around USD 18 billion per year and seriously derailing its development. It was the fruit of a collaboration by NGO researchers, then later used by NGO advocates to influence important policies at the continental and regional levels. That report catalysed a Summit of African Union (AU) heads of state and governments in Tripoli, Libya in 2009. The report of the Summit, drafted by the African Union Commission, is extensively quoted this report.2 At the Summit, a detailed plan of action3 was adopted, including institutional reforms, to deal with the conflicts in Africa. This was a direct result of the action by NGO/CSO researchers and activists at various levels. The report has also been a strong catalyst for the signing and ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty by many African governments.

However, the publication of a report in the media is not enough to bring about policy impact. Activists have to create an influencing space, but also use existing invited space, to showcase their findings. Local organizations have identified victims and survivors of violations, convinced one or two progressive states to put the issue on the agenda, and brought the victims and survivors to speak directly to the Peace and Security Council of the AU. I have seen an ambassador crying when a Somalian woman brought by a local partner described to the Council how she was raped. Personal stories such as this can have great impact. But these reports are usually strongly criticized by academia, because of lack of academic rigour. Publishing NGOs have recognized the issues linked to research methodology. But, despite this, the policy impact is there.

In 2014, Oxfam published a global inequality report4 with concreate suggestions for action by policymakers in order to tackle inequality. This report catalysed a special session of the AU Peace and Security Council on the issue and its links to conflict and humanitarian challenges. The session gave important policy guidance to other organs of the AU and its member states on how to tackle the issue, including dealing with Illicit financial flows.

Here again, the findings were not kept on the shelves of libraries or merely uploaded onto a website. Activists had to co-create space ‘conspiratorially’ with friendly governments, and the result is that the AU and its member states have become aware of the findings. Several ambassadors have formally written to receive copies of the report. Once this happens, then local civil society can follow up at the national level. In addition, the recommendations from the reports made it into the AU’s strategic plan of action. In a similar case, a paper by NGOs promoting universal health coverage during the Ebola outbreak convinced a number of governments to come on board and support the agenda. So research by NGOs/CSOs can have a powerful impact.

Legitimacy and effectiveness of influencing by CSOs

I would like to say a few words on the legitimacy and effectiveness of influencing by CSOs, but also on the relationship between global national and local civil society. Civic space is defined as the set of conditions that determine the extent to which members of society, both as individuals and in informal or organized groups, are able to freely, effectively and without discrimination exercise their basic civil rights. Civic space is the foundation of any open and democratic society. When civic space is open, citizens and their formations are able to organize, participate and communicate without hindrance. In doing so, they are able to claim their rights and influence the political and social structures around them. Civic space enables citizens to participate and hold governments and the private sector to account. Civic space is, therefore, a critical enabler in the fight against poverty and pursuit of social justice.

The legitimacy of civil society participation at the international level was affirmed by the UN Charter5, which states that the United Nations Economic and Social Council may consult with NGOs on matters within its competence. In a prosperous and democratic society, the state and a vibrant civil society are two sides of the same coin and complement each other. Civil society must be seen as a reservoir of social capital capable of contributing to all aspects of a country’s development including health, education, peace and security.

The influence of civil society in national and continental policy making does not diminish the relevance of governmental or inter-governmental processes, but rather enhances it. If we look at the area of peace and security, for example, because of its immersion in society, civil society is able to contribute to peace-building initiatives and social cohesion. Civil society has shown its capacity to organize, collect, analyse and evaluate first-hand information, allowing the identification of the sources of potential tension as well as emerging conflicts. Although ‘traditional’ conflicts are usually well understood by diplomats and specialists in political science, addressing new conflicts requires a much more on-the-ground knowledge, new skills in  social and cultural analysis, the active involvement of communities and their leaders, links to vulnerable groups, bridges into mainstream development processes, and new ways of working. Many civil society organizations have unique capacities in all these areas.

But, is this picture still the same today and everywhere that CSOs operate? That is the question. Are today’s CSOs really linked to the grassroots where the directly affected populations live? How much our are elite, frequent travellers working on the rights of marginalized people in touch with those affected people living in rural areas? How much of the donors’ money accounted for in global statistics actually reaches the beneficiaries?

In January 2010, I met with the then Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, who introduced one of the most restrictive CSO laws in Africa. On that subject, he indirectly referred to the instrumentalization of national CSOs by big international NGOs, as well as the lack of capacity development of local actors, whose agenda is defined by western NGOs. In this way he partly justified some aspects of his NGO law. However, shouldn’t we consider a more genuine solidarity between national and international CSOs and make a deliberate plan for capacity building, leading progressively to the ‘localization’ of interventions by CSOs?

Stretching civic space in practice

Around the globe there is a proud history of civic activism that is under threat today. Social movements and activists has been a vital component in most independence struggles, and civil society a driving force behind state formation. It has also been instrumental in the affirmation and realization of human rights and dignity.

Civil society across Africa has played a central role in the continent’s history and development. Today, however, the gains brought about by citizen participation are being reversed by increasing restrictions on civic space. The consequences of this have not only been felt by the activists, social movements and civil society groups at the sharp end of these restrictions, but by society at large.

Without CSOs and the independent voices they represent, the ability to address abuses of power and build responsive, accountable institutions is severely constrained. In almost every constitution, there are commitments to allow citizens’ participation in one form or another. However, these commitments to protect civic space are being eroded as many governments across the region characterize civil society more as political opponents than organizations making a positive contribution to social change. While exceptions exist, the current trend is for citizens, activists and the organizations that represent them to have less space to operate in.

We have talked about shrinking space, but there is also shifting space: space can be open for some time and closed at other times or for other people. It can also open for some issues, while blocking others. Sometimes, in order to enforce their restrictions, governments create their own NGOs (GONGOs), which only pretend to speak for the people.

Looking at the current geopolitical trends with the rapidly growing influence of China in Africa promoting the idea of a development state, it is not expected that civic space will reopen again just like that. This is the moment to invest strategically in promoting active citizenship, nationally, but also regionally. Regional civil society and coalitions targeting regional and Pan African institutions have an important role to play, complementing and backing up national groups.

Interventions at the regional level are less exposed to risks, compared to those by national CSOs. In many cases regional CSOs can really contribute, influence and pressure member states through regional and continental bodies on regional policy issues. For example, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) forum reacted differently to CSO/non-state actor engagement. Another example is, ECOWAS, which seems to be more open to CSOs than the RECs. But the general trend is more encouraging at the regional than at the national level.

I thank you.

L’Union Africaine Suspend le Soudan: Quelles en sont les Conséquences ?

English version here 

En réponse à la répression sanglante le Lundi 3 Juin 2019, du sit-in des manifestants civils soudanais,  qui exigent des  militaires au pouvoir depuis la chute d’Omar Bashir , un gouvernement civil et démocratique, le Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité (CPS) de l’Union Africaine a sorti ses muscles.

La 854eme Session du Conseil  a décidé, «conformément aux instruments pertinents de l’Union Africaine, en particulier l’Acte Constitutif de l’Union, le Protocole relatif à la création du Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité et la Charte Africaine de la Démocratie, des Elections et de la Gouvernance, de suspendre, avec effet immédiat, la participation de la République du Soudan à toutes les activités de l’UA, jusqu’à la mise en place effective d’une Autorité de transition sous conduite civile, seule voie à même de permettre au Soudan de sortir de la crise actuelle». C’est une décision sans appel, claire et non équivoque qui suscite quand même quelques questions juridiques, politiques et de clarification. Je vais en aborder quelques-unes dans ce blog.

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Je rappelle que les affirmations de ce blog sont purement personnelles et n’engagent pas mes employeurs actuel ou passés.

 Quelles sont les implications directes de la suspension d’un Etat membre des Activités de l’Union Africaine ?

Les textes évoqués par le Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité dans ses différentes sessions  sur la situation au Soudan n’ont pas donnés tous les détails  sur les conséquences d’une suspension d’un état membre.

Sur le plan politique Il faut reconnaitre que la suspension du  Soudan affaiblit la légitimité internationale, déjà fragile du Conseil militaire de transition au pouvoir. L’Union Africaine a un poids politique incontestable dont la décision influencerait certainement des partenaires  internationaux du Soudan.  Aucun régime politique ne voudrait être dans une situation de suspension d’une organisation de 55 états membres, la plus importante institution pan Africaine sur le continent. En outre, les violations odieuses des droits de l’homme qui ont conduit à cette suspension, notamment le viol présumé de femmes et de filles, ont rendu la situation encore plus sombre. Les Nations Unies ont également condamné le recours excessif à la force par les forces de sécurité à l’encontre de civils et ont appelé à une enquête indépendante.

Dans la pratique la suspension d’un état aux activités de l’Union implique que les représentants dudit état  ne seront plus invités  aux activités des organes de l’Union jusqu’à la levée de la suspension. Ils perdent naturellement  leurs droits de vote. L’état en question ne pourra pas non plus abriter de réunions des organes de l’Union. Tous les organes et programmes sont concernés.  Ses représentants élus dans les comités et groupes de travail n’y auront plus accès comme membres.  Il n’est cependant pas clair si les représentants de l’état suspendu peuvent être  autorisés  à siéger dans les séances non-fermées  comme observateurs et sans droit de vote. A mon avis si la séance admet des observateurs (non-états membres de l’UA), un représentant d’un état suspendu devrait pouvoir y assister sans avoir droit à la parole et au vote. Il faut quand-même préciser que la suspension d’un état des activités de l’Union n’arrête pas  l’appartenance de cet état  à l’Union Africaine. En conséquence l’état suspendu doit continuer d’honorer ses obligations vis-à-vis de l’Union telles que les cotisations au budget de l’Union. D’ailleurs c’est dans cet esprit que l’Union Africaine continuera d’accompagner le processus de normalisation en collaboration avec la Communauté économique régionale géographiquement concernée. Dans le cas d’espèce, c’est l’IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) dont fait partie le Djibouti, l’Erythrée, l’Ethiopie, le Kenya, la Somalie, le Soudan, le Sud Soudan et  l’Ouganda.

Quels en sont les effets sur les citoyens de l’état suspendu ?  La Déclaration de Lomé de Juillet 2000 sur les changements inconstitutionnels de gouvernement suggère qu’il  faut veiller à ce que les citoyens ordinaires du pays concerné ne souffrent pas de manière disproportionnée du fait de l’application de sanctions aux tenants du pouvoir. Néanmoins dans la pratique l’impact de la suspension sur les citoyens est inévitable surtout si la suspension dure dans le temps.  Par exemple la Centrafrique avait été suspendue pendant trois ans, mais j’imagine que ce qui importe le plus ici pour les citoyens soudanais c’est le soutien politique et moral que représente la décision du Conseil par rapport à leur droit légitime à l’avènement d’un état démocratique.  Le Conseil a notamment réaffirmé « la solidarité continue de l’Union Africaine avec le peuple soudanais dans ses aspirations à un cadre constitutionnel et à des institutions pouvant permettre à leur pays de connaitre des avancées dans ses efforts sur la voie de la transformation démocratique »

Pourquoi la suspension du Soudan n’as pas été automatique aussitôt après le coup d’Etat comme dans d’autres cas dans le passé ?

Le Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité semble utiliser ce mécanisme au cas par cas  pour plusieurs raisons. La plus importante est que  le mécanisme de la Déclaration de Lomé et les autres instruments cités par le Conseil  avaient été rédigés dans un contexte de coups d’état classiques ou on ne connaissait pas tellement de soulèvements  populaires et les révolutions de la rue qui ont lieu de nos jours. Il est aussi vrai que l’espace démocratique s’est largement étendu en Afrique…  Il y a donc un problème de caractérisation des faits face à la  situation du Soudan aujourd’hui, mais aussi à celle de l’Egypte par le passé, de l’Algérie, du Zimbabwe etc. Il importe que l’Union Africaine se penche sur la définition du cadre d’intervention en cas de soulèvement populaire. Dans le cas du Soudan par exemple, le Conseil a  visiblement tenté de donner une chance aux militaires pour parvenir rapidement à un accord avec les civils, mais les évènements sanglants de cette semaine et l’absence de progrès dans les discussions ont fait changer la donne.

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Au-delà de la suspension du Soudan… le jeu des alliances avec ou sans l’Afrique.

D’aucuns se demandent si la suspension du Soudan des activités de l’Union Africaine est suffisante pour  faire courber les militaires au pouvoir.  Il faut déjà reconnaitre que le langage et la position du Conseil dans le cas soudanais est l’un des plus fermes de l’histoire. En plus, le Conseil menace qu’au cas où les militaires ne transféreront pas sans plus tarder, le pouvoir à une Autorité de transition sous conduite civile, le Conseil imposera automatiquement des mesures punitives aux personnes et entités faisant obstacle à la mise en place de l’Autorité de transition sous conduite civile. A l’ère où tout se mondialise y compris la justice et la redevabilité surtout en matière de droits de l’homme  personne ne veut prendre le risque  de faire face à ces éventualités.

Cependant, la tâche ne semble pas être si simple  dans une situation ou d’autres alliés du Soudan dans le continent et en dehors du continent  ne semblent pas aller dans la même direction que l’Union Africaine.  Il n’est donc pas étonnant de voir que dans son Communiqué, le Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité dans un langage fort a souligné, « la primauté des initiatives entreprises par les pays africains dans la recherche d’une solution durable à la crise au Soudan et a réitéré  son appel à tous les partenaires pour qu’ils soutiennent les efforts de l’UA et de l’IGAD et s’abstiennent de toute action susceptible de compromettre les initiatives entreprises par l’Afrique ».

Même si le Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies n’a pas pu s’entendre sur un texte commun et la conduite à tenir, une grande partie de la communauté internationale semble être alignée sur la position de l’Union Africaine. L’Union Africaine a en effet du potentiel et un poids politique assez important à ne pas négliger pour résolution du problème soudanais et bien d’autres sur le continent.

J’ai espoir que la raison prévaudra entre les parties prenantes soudanaises.  L’Afrique que nous voulons en dépens.

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African Union Suspended Sudan: What are the Consequences?

La version en Francais ici

In response to the bloody removal on Monday 3rd June, of the sit-in of Sudanese civilian protesters who are demanding a democratic government to the military in power since the fall of Omar Bashir, the African Union Peace and Security Council has pulled out its muscles yesterday 6 June 2019.

The 854th Session of the Council decided, “in line with the relevant AU instruments, in particular the AU Constitutive Act, the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, to suspend, with immediate effect, the participation of the Republic of Sudan in all AU activities until the effective establishment of a civilian-led Transitional Authority, as the only way to allow the Sudan to exit from its current crisis”. This decision is clear and unambiguous but it raises some legal,  political and practical questions. I will address some of them in this blog.

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Please note that affirmations of this blog are purely personal and do not engage my current or past employers.

What are the direct implications of the suspension of a Member State from the activities of the African Union?

The instruments referred to by the Peace and Security Council (PSC) in its various sessions on the situation in Sudan have not given full details of the consequences of a suspension of a member state.

Political significance: It should be recognized that the suspension of Sudan weakens the already fragile international legitimacy of the ruling Transition Military Council. The African Union has an undeniable political weight and its decision will certainly influence international partners of Sudan. No political regime would enjoy to be in a situation of suspension from an organization of 55 member states, the most important Pan African institution on the continent. In addition, the heinous violation of human rights that led to this suspension, including alleged widespread rape of women and girls, made the picture even darker. The United Nations has also strongly condemned the violence and the use of excessive force by the security forces on civilians, and called for an independent investigation.

In practice the suspension of a state from the affairs of the Union implies that representatives of that State will no longer be invited to the activities of the organs of the Union until the lifting of the suspension. They naturally lose their voting rights. Nor can the State in question host meetings of the organs of the Union. All AU bodies and programs are concerned. Elected representatives of the suspended state in the various AU committees and working groups will no longer have access to them as members. It is unclear, however, whether suspended state officials may be allowed to sit in an open session as observers and without the right to vote. In my opinion, if the meeting admits observers (non-member states of the AU), a representative of the suspended state should be able to attend the meeting without the right to speak and to vote. However, it is necessary to specify that the suspension of a state of the activities of the Union does not stop the membership of the said state to the African Union. As a result, the suspended state must continue to honor its obligations to the Union, such as contributions to the Union budget. Moreover, it is in that spirit that the African Union will continue to support the normalization process in collaboration with the Regional Economic Community geographically concerned. In this case, it is IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) which includes Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.

What are the effects on citizens ?

The Lomé Declaration of July 2000 suggests that care must be taken to ensure that ordinary citizens of the affected country do not suffer disproportionately from the imposition of sanctions on those in power. Nevertheless in practice the impact of the suspension on the citizens is inevitable especially if the suspension lasts long. For example, the Central African Republic had been suspended for three years, but I can imagine that what is most important here for Sudanese citizens today is the political and moral support that the PSC decision represents for their legitimate right for a democratic state. In particular, the Council reaffirmed “the solidarity of the African Union with the Sudanese in their aspirations to constitutional order that will enable them to make progress in its efforts towards the democratic transformation of the country”.

ETHIOPIA-ADDIS ABABA-18TH AU SUMMIT

Why was Sudan’s suspension not automatic immediately after the coup as in other cases in the past?

The Peace and Security Council seems to use this mechanism on a case-by-case basis for several reasons. The most important is that, the mechanism of the Lomé Declaration and the other instruments cited by the Council had been drafted in the context of classic coups. Popular uprisings and street revolutions where not envisaged at that time. It is also true that nowadays the democratic space has spread widely in Africa so strong and persistent popular movements could not be ignored anymore … There is therefore a problem of characterization of the situation in Sudan today, but also that of Egypt a few years back, in Algeria, Zimbabwe etc. It is important for the African Union to look at defining the framework for action in the event of popular uprisings. In the case of Sudan, for example, the Council apparently tried to give the military a chance to reach an agreement with the civilians quickly, but the bloody events of this week and the lack of progress in the discussions had changed the situation.

Beyond the suspension of Sudan from AU activities and the game of alliances

Some question whether the suspension of Sudan from the activities of the African Union is sufficient to bend the ruling Transition Military Council. We should recognize that, already the language and position of the PSC is one of the firmest in history. In addition, the PSC threatens that, should the Transition Military Council fail to hand-over power to a civilian-led Transitional Authority, the PSC shall, without any further delay, automatically impose punitive measures on individuals and entities obstructing the establishment of the civilian-led Transitional Authority. There is also a move towards investigating the massive human rights violations. In a world where everything is globalizing, including justice and accountability, especially in the area of ​​human rights, no one wants to take the risk of facing these eventualities.

However, this does not seem to be so simple in a situation where other Sudanese allies within and outside the continent do not seem to be moving in the same direction as the African Union. It is therefore not surprising that in its Communiqué, the Peace and Security Council stressed “the primacy of African-led initiatives in the search for a lasting solution to the crisis in Sudan; and reiterated its call to all partners to support AU and IGAD efforts and refrain from any action that could undermine African-led initiatives”.

Even though the United Nations Security Council has not been able to agree on a common text and what to do, a large part of the international community seems to be aligned with the position of the African Union. The African Union has the potential and a significant political weight, to help solve the Sudanese problem and many others in the continent.

I hope that reason will prevail between the Sudanese stakeholders. We need that for the Africa we want.

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My 10 Quick Takeaways from the Tana Forum on Peace & Security in Africa – 8th Edition

Tana High Level Forum on Peace & Security in Africa is an unique opportunity for sharing, learning & networking. An informal space where discussions are open, frank and candid. Views and opinions in Tana Forum are generally considered as personal and do not necessarily represent institutional positions.

The theme of the 8th edition held on 3 & 4 May 2019 was “Political Dynamics in the Horn of Africa: Nurturing the Emerging Peace Trend”.

I am sharing here my quick personal takeaways from the Forum.

For official reports and working documents please visit: https://tanaforum.org

Takeaways

1/ Multilateralism should be our guiding principle in dealing with peace and security/conflict issues in the continent.

2/ Concerted efforts by the African Union and the Regional Economics Communities (RECs) are key to capitalize on the current momentum in the Horn of Africa, consolidate/reinforce partnership among Member States to align priorities and actions, and to withstand external influences that can negatively hold the region back from its search for peace & security.

3/ Africa should better own and make use of the United Nations system and programs.

4/ There is a need to revise relations between leadership and citizens in Africa.

5/ Need for a better political and economic governance based on our agreed shared values.

6/ Protecting civic space, enhancing citizens participation including a genuine press freedom are paramount today.

7/ Need to speedy the process of free movement of people, goods and services.

8/ Need to put in place concrete measures for youth empowerment to capture and harness the demographic dividend.

9/ We should promote people to people relations in the region toward an effective regional integration.

10/ Tana Forum should continue with an enhanced diversity and gender balance.

The State of World Population 2019 – New UNFPA Report

Dear friends

I would like to share with you the annual flagship publication of UNFPA, the State of World Population 2019 report, which has just been launched globally today 10th April 2019.

This year’s report is entitled, “Unfinished Business: the pursuit of rights and choices for all.”  It looks into the barriers that women and girls have faced over the past 50 years since UNFPA was established, and how governments, civil society and organizations such as UNFPA came together over the years to help overcome those obstacles. Furthermore, the report explores the barriers ahead and shows what we can do together now to help overcome them.

Diving in, the 2019 report brings to the fore two crucial questions: “Are women better off today since the establishment of UNFPA?” and “Have we finished the business of the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development?”

We trust that this report would help us refocus the discussion on population and its link to sustainable development.

You can download the report here.

SWP 2019_Multiple Language Poster_HighResWe also have hard copies in English and French available in our office in Addis Ababa UNECA, Congo Building. Please call +251988190192 to reserve one.

Kindly share it with your network.

 

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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Our World is Splitting on Human Rights Issues

The 51st Session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development failed to reach a consensus yesterday in New York . No outcome came from 5 intensive days of negotiations on the theme: “Sustainable cities human mobility and migration”. Key divergences were around sexual and reproductive health/rights mention, some migration related issues and a quest by some delegations, for a “sovereignty clause” to be included in the text proposed by the chair. This is now the 3rd time in 4 years that discussions at this gathering end with no outcome. Our world is dangerously splitting on human rights issues.

Our disappointment today will not however affect our commitment to the Action Plan of the International Conference on Population and Development #ICPD beyond 2014.

La lutte continue !!! … #CPD51.

Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020: How Can we get there?

Dear Friends;

Invited by the Chair of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, I have had the opportunity today, to address the Council, to share my analysis and contributions on the implementation of the AU Master Road-map on Practical Steps to Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020.

The Master Roadmap rightly and comprehensively identified the challenges that our continent is facing in terms of conflicts. It also proposed pertinent and useful steps and mechanisms to silence the guns. However, the Roadmap seems to be generic in its approach. It needs to set targeted priorities for ongoing active & intense conflicts with benchmarks & time-frames, while keeping  eyes open on volatile areas & potential or at-risk situations.

Pic blog

After looking at the various sources of conflicts in Africa my presentation proposed:

  • Complementary contributions on priority actions
  • Some additional modalities for mobilizing & actions
  • Some important additional steps and missing elements in the Roadmap

The Council, further in their close session,  followed a number of my proposals including the setting up of a panel of imminent personalities to monitor the Roadmap for silencing the guns by 2020.  This includes assessing regularly the state of  democracy,  human rights and rule of law in Africa. The Council called on the Heads of State to set up such a panel. The Council has also agreed to call AU Member States for the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty among other decisions.

Get the PSC Statement here

You can download my presentation to the Council here

If you have trouble in downloading it, drop me a line on assogbavi@me.com; I will send you the file.

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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?

Do 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 CAR between 2002 and 2003.

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 is 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’Ivoire, 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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