This report is the result of the audit review which the African Union commissioned at the request of the Assembly of the African Union as contained in the Accra Declaration of July 2007. It was conducted by a High Level Panel appointed by the Chairperson of the African Union, H.E John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana.
Based on the Terms of Reference of the audit, the report provides an in-depth review of the Organs and Institutions of the African Union as well as the nature of the relationships among them. It reviews the structures and functions of the RECs, including their relations with the African Union. The review also includes the relationship between the AU on the one hand, and the UNECA and the AfDB on the other.
The methodology of the audit consisted of analysing the information contained in the Decisions, Resolutions and Declarations of the African Union and in related reports and studies. The Panel exchanged views on the issues arising from these documents in the light of its Terms of Reference. It also conducted a number of interviews within and outside of the Commission and with representatives of other Organs and Institutions. The Panel further held discussions with high officials of the RECs, ECA and ADB.
The Panel met between September 10, 2007 and December 18, 2007 during which it discussed the scope of its work as well as its internal organisation. This culminated in the production of this report which contains three main parts. These are: A brief overview of the integration process in Africa since the 1960s; an in-depth assessment of the current state of integration through the examination of the Organs, Institutions and RECs, and their inter-relationships; and, finally, the formulation of roadmaps and benchmarks based on the Panel’s recommendations and which would accelerate the transformation and integration process in Africa.
Overview of Africa’s transformation process
Africa’s experience of integration shows that historically, one strand of opinion has stood in favour of immediate integration, while another has supported gradual integration. During the formation of the OAU, the compromise reached between these opinions shaped the path towards integration. Thus, the current debate on integration has had the benefit of over forty years of the combined experience of the OAU and AU, during which Africa has faced multiple economic, social and political challenges on the national, regional and global fronts. Among them are the widespread poverty and the devastating social and economic impacts of such pandemic diseases as HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. Its collective responses to these challenges have repeatedly affirmed the logic of unity and integration as formulated in the Charter of the OAU (1963); the Lagos Plan of Action and the Final Act of Lagos, (1980); the Abuja Treaty,(1991); the Sirte Declaration, (1999), and the Constitutive Act of the AU, (2000). These instruments stand as galvanising landmarks for integration in the face of Africa’s political and economic challenges. Despite these defining moments, the current Grand Debate on the future of the AU is as divergent as it was when the OAU was established in 1963.
Assessment of the Organs/Institutions and their relationships and audit findings
The Panel found out that the Assembly, as the supreme Organ of the Union could have done more in providing leadership in the acceleration of the integration process. It has, more often that not, been preoccupied with recurrent issues which have no direct bearing on the integration process. Consequently, the Panel has strongly recommended that the sessions of the Assembly should be more focused. Firstly, it should undertake an in-depth review of the implementation of past decisions and provide the necessary directives at the commencement of every ordinary session. Secondly, each session of the Assembly should be devoted to a theme pertaining to the integration process. Thirdly, to achieve these two objectives, the Panel recommends that the Chairperson of the Assembly should hold office for two years to provide leadership and policy continuity; and, that the Assembly should revert to holding only one annual session to give time for adequate follow-up and implementation.
The Executive Council needs to be optimised and focused. It has so far been dealing with a wide range of issues, most of which are specialised. The Panel, therefore, recommends that the Executive Council be re-designated as the Council of Ministers with several configurations depending on the issues to be discussed. This will enable sectoral Ministers to play the role which is essential for the achievement of integration. This configuration will make the establishment of the STCs unnecessary, while the sectoral Councils of Ministers could establish ad hoc committees of officials to help with the preparation of their meetings.
The Panel noted that since it became operational, the Peace and Security Council has been active in the pursuit of its mandate of promoting peace and security in Africa, even in the face of severe constraints. The Panel has made specific recommendations aimed at enhancing the performance of the Council, including its working methods and the early operationalisation of all the components of the AU peace and security architecture -The Panel of the Wise, the Continental Early Warning System and the African Standby Force. The Panel also recommends that AU Member States should provide more funding and logistical support for AU peace operations rather than the Union being compelled to rely heavily on external funding.
The PRC has played an important role in maintaining contacts between the Commission and Member States. However, the Panel found out that the balance between the oversight and advisory functions of the PRC needs to be adjusted. The capacity of the PRC - its members and subsidiary bodies - needs to be enhanced to enable it to play an effective and well–informed advisory role to the Council of Ministers.
Although the Commission, as the nerve center of the AU architecture, has lifted the profile of the Union globally, it is handicapped at three levels. First, there is lack of clarity in the set up of its leadership. Second, its activities are spread too widely for it to be effective in playing the role envisaged for it; and thirdly, the management needs to be improved. Furthermore, the Panel has addressed the issue of the current relations between the Commission and the PRC and has made recommendations to improve them. In the same vein, the Panel has made recommendations with respect to the Commission’s relations with the RECs.
Another area that has engaged the attention of the Panel is the election of the Commissioners. In that respect, the Panel has made recommendations aimed at strengthening the collegiate culture of the Commission. While auditing the Commission, the Panel devoted attention to the management of its finance and human resources, which require a complete overhaul. In that context, the Panel has recommended the establishment of an African Union Staff Commission to be responsible for staff matters, as well as the appointment by the Council of an African firm of international repute for the regular audit of the accounts of the Commission. The Panel has also addressed the alternative sources of financing of the Union and, as a starting point, recommended that a tax be levied on airline tickets for travel within Africa.
The Panel has made certain recommendations in the perspective of inculcating a culture of pan-Africanism among the youth of the continent. Similarly, it has addressed the issue of the non-implementation at national, regional and continental levels of AU Decisions and has recommended that, among other things, National Commissions for African Union Affairs be set up in Member States.
The Panel would like to underscore that while the AU has made major strides in mainstreaming gender in its activities, as evidenced by the gender parity at Commissioners’ level, consideration should be given to the application of gender parity in the staffing of the AU since at present, women constitute only 25% of the workforce.
While the pan- African Parliament has been in existence since 2004, it has not performed as expected. The Economic, Social and Cultural Council is taking steps to become operational. The Panel recommends that the process should be expedited. The Panel recommends that these bodies be given proper guidance by the Assembly in carrying out their functions.
Similarly, the Panel is of the view that more support should be provided to the judicial organs in the discharge of their duties. Specifically, the merging of the African Court of Justice with the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights should be speeded up. Member States should also commit themselves to accepting the jurisdiction of the Court.
The RECs, which are expected to serve as building blocks in the integration process, have been constrained by a number of factors, particularly the overlapping memberships, the insufficient inter-RECs co-operation and lack of coordination and harmonisation at the continental level. The Panel recommends that while abiding by the decision of the Assembly to recognise eight RECs, a strategy be devised for them to play a more pro-active role in fast-tracking integration at regional and continental levels.
The Panel is of the view that the African Union should endeavour to fully exploit the potential of the UNECA and the ADB. Specifically, UNECA should provide more technical expertise in support of the implementation of the integration programme and projects, while the ADB should substantially increase its funding for regional programmes and projects.
Implementation of the Recommendations and the Acceleration of the Integration Process
In order to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations, the Panel has suggested that roadmaps should be developed at national, regional and continental levels by relevant actors within a timeframe of four to six weeks. In addition, in order to fast-track the integration process, the Panel has recommended that bold measures should be taken with respect to the free movement of persons, infrastructure development, and the creation of multinational African companies such as the pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund which was launched in Accra in July 2007. In the same context, the early establishment of the three financial institutions; namely, the African Central Bank, the African Monetary Fund and the African Investment Bank is imperative.
With respect to NEPAD, the Panel is of the view that its activities are too widely spread and not focused on the integration process as initially intended. The Panel recommends that NEPAD should be one of the main instruments of the Commission in the injection of accelerators into the integration process, particularly the development of trans-continental and inter-regional infrastructure and the promotion of multinational companies.
The Panel, while welcoming the increase in the number of countries that have voluntarily acceded to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), encourages all Member States of the African Union to follow suit. In addition, countries that have acceded to the mechanism should take measures to undertake the necessary processes to facilitate their reviews. Finally, the follow-up actions after country reviews should be conducted in an all-inclusive and transparent manner.
This audit review is not an end in itself. The Panel is persuaded that the near 170 recommendations it has put forward, if fully and expeditiously implemented, would energise the Organs and Institutions of the African Union to work in tandem with re-invigorated RECs towards the achievement of the goal of African integration and unity. The Panel emphasises the need to institutionalise periodic reviews.
The Panel is fully aware of the fact that the peoples of Africa strongly desire and expect that the AU should achieve its vision of becoming “people-centered and driven”. The Union has established several important institutions such as the PAP and the ECOSOCC towards that end. Also, the Commission has an African Citizens’ Directorate – CIDO –which aims at involving the African peoples and the Diaspora in the AU activities. In addition, it has a Communication Unit for providing information on the AU to the public and as an outreach instrument of the Commission. Despite this institutional framework for involving African citizens, the Panel finds that there are many institutional obstacles which still impede the realisation of the AU’s original vision. In this regard, the Panel finds that the involvement of African citizens, Civil Society Organisations and the private sector is till at a nascent stage. There is, therefore, a critical need, especially once ECOSOC is fully operational, for this institutional framework to become more effective in involving African citizens and the Diaspora in moving forward the integration process.