The Assembly of Heads of State and Government meeting in Accra, Ghana, July 2007, adopted the Terms of Reference for this audit review. In summary, the audit seeks to provide an in-depth review and assessment of the structures, review the nature of the relationships between these Organs and Institutions and the other continental Organisations; review and evaluate the current state of integration especially the functioning of the activities of the Regional Economic Communities. The Audit is also required to evaluate the African political and economic agenda and highlight major trends with respect to political and economic integration. The Panel was instructed to make recommendations to strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of current Institutions as well as accelerate continental integration. The current Chairperson of the African Union, H.E. John Agyekum Kufuor, the President of the Republic of Ghana, nominated thirteen members of the Panel to carry out this assignment. Resource persons were also appointed to support the Panel.
The Panel held its inaugural meeting on September 10, 2007 and its final meeting between December 10 –18, 2007 for the approval and adoption of this report. The Panel held 18 hearings, considered 300 documents and interviewed over 60 officials and staff of the Commission, African missions and external partners during this period. The Panel was painfully aware that the original timeframe for the Audit was four to six months. Since it was made clear to the Panel that its report should be ready for the AU Summit in January 2008 and since adequate allowance of time must be made for translation and circulation of the report to Member States, the Panel has endeavoured to produce the report in three months. The Panel has been asked to be ready to review comments that may be received on this report and to formally present the report to the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government in January 2008.
Organisation of Work
On the first day of the inaugural session, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission addressed the Panel. Given the central role of the Commission, this address set the stage for looking closely into the functioning of existing Organs of the Union and their inter-relationships. Indeed, one of the specific objectives in the Terms of Reference is to review the report of the Chairperson of the Commission. Having this presented personally by the Chairperson gave Members of the Panel an added insight into the dynamics of the AU and the Commission.
The Panel undertook to assess the following Organs and Institutions: The Assembly of the Union, The Executive Council, The Pan-African Parliament, The Commission, The African Court of Justice, The Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights, The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, The Permanent Representatives Committee, The Specialised Technical Committees, The Economic, Social and Cultural Council, The New Partnership for Africa’s Development, proposed Financial Institutions (the African Central Bank, African Investment Bank, and the African Monetary Fund), the Peace and Security Council, as well as the Technical and Representational Offices and the Specialised Agencies. The Panel also examined the relationships between the Union and the Regional Economic Communities, the African Development Bank and the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Lastly, while studying the finances of the Union, the Panel examined the various proposals that have been made on alternative sources of financing for the Union.
Giventhe scope of the Audit, the Panel organised itself into the following four Working Groups assisted by resource persons:
Background to the Union and the Constitutive Act and its Core Values;
The AU Commission, financing of the Union activities, management of financial resources of the Union and alternative sources of financing;
The Working Groups undertook the detailed Audit and produced draft findings and recommendations, which were submitted to the plenary sessions for consideration.
The Panel’s work was conducted in such a manner as to gather maximum information and have as many face-to-face interactions as possible with relevant actors within and outside the Union. The AU Commission and the resource persons provided the Panel with key Union Organs’ statutory documents, relevant studies, publications and reports. As already indicated, the Panel received and considered over 300 documents related to the African Union and the development and integration of Africa.
In addition to the Chairperson of the Commission, the Panel also met with the Deputy Chairperson and the Commissioners. The Chief of Staff and the Secretary to the Commission in the Office of the Chairperson also attended the initial meetings to provide clarity and explanations where required. Subsequent meetings were restricted to the Panel and the resource persons. The Panel invited African citizens to participate in the audit through the African Union website. In spite of the short deadline, the invitation through the website generated a few but thoughtful submissions in English and French by individuals and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). Subsequently, and at their request, the Panel met with representatives of African CSOs, namely; Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO), Afroflag Youth Vision – Ethiopia (AYV), Equality Now and FAHAMU/AU Monitor.
The Chairperson of the Panel seized the opportunity of a regional consultative conference on the Diaspora, which took place at the AU Commission Headquarters on October 15 –16, 2007 to invite comments and suggestions on the Panel’s Terms of Reference. Panel members also invited African CSOs at the NGO Forum during the November 2007 session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to make submissions, should they so wish.
The Panel met the Permanent Representatives Committee, its Bureau and sub-committee Chairpersons, as well as the Bureau of the pan-African Parliament. In addition, separate meetings were held with the President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, a Commissioner of the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the Peace and Security Council. A meeting was also held with the Chief Executive of the NEPAD Secretariat. During these hearings, the Panel listened as well to representatives of Institutions outside the Union. These included the Executive Secretary of UNECA, the Adviser to the President of AfDB, the Secretary General of the Sahel-Saharan Economic Community (CEN-SAD), the Secretary General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Vice-President of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Executive Secretary of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the Deputy Secretary-General of the East African Community (EAC). In spite of the invitation of the Chairperson of the Assembly of the African Union, the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), the Southern African Development Community and the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) did not put in an appearance.
Apart from the interactions with various Organs and Institutions, the Panel and its resource persons conducted over sixty face-to-face interviews with Commission staff in Addis Ababa and received completed questionnaires from AU Specialised Offices and Representational offices as mentioned above.
While the High Level Panel is confident that it has discharged its responsibility under the Terms of Reference to the best of its ability, it was unable to visit Member States, the Organs of the AU outside Addis Ababa and the RECs because of the time constraint. The list of documents examined, persons interviewed and the contacts made are provided in the appendices to this report. The Panel gratefully acknowledges the assistance provided by the resource persons and the staff of the Commission. This report is, indeed, the product of an intense investigation into the state of the Union.