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.

AfricanUnionHeadquarters

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.

 

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
  24. Development of Blue Economy : Republic of Seychelles: H.E. President Danny Faure.

So far there are no standard modalities for the selection of those champions, the duration of the assignments are not clear and it is not sure if the assignment is transferable in case of change of leadership at the helm of the country. The African Union needs to clarify these. 

This list may not be exhaustive. Please drop me a line on assogbavi@me.com or Desire.Assogbavi@assodesire.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.

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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