MAKING THE AFRICAN UNION OF STATES AN AFRICAN UNION OF CITIZENS AND PEOPLES

Abdoulie G. Dibba

A reflection panel organised by the SOTU Coalition during the 56th session of theAFRICAN UNION OF STATES African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on Tuesday 21st April 2015 called for African citizens and communities to embrace the legal instruments of the AU. The discussion took place at the Board Room of Kairaba Hotel in Banjul the Gambia.

It discussed the development of strategies for the embracement of the legal instruments of AU by citizens and communities and how to push them through active participation, to ensure that their governments ratify, actualize and effectively implement the AU legal instruments.

During the reflection panel, the Secretary General of RADDHO (African Organisations engaged in Democracy in Africa) Abou Bakary Mboge stated that the African Union has elaborated outstanding legal instruments to protect and promote human and peoples’ rights in Africa, as well as protocols and guidelines on democracy, governance and corporate responsibility and the preservation of natural resources.

However he said to date about 44 AU protocols to the African Charter for Human and Peoples’ Rights are still with member states waiting for ratification and implementation. Mr Mboge said many AU African states have failed to ratify these instruments and among those who did so, some did not incorporate them in their national legislation, making them useless.

The Secretary General of RADDHO (African Organisations engaged in Democracy in Africa) indicated that African civil society organizations regularly denounce the failure of member states to domesticate the African Union instruments. He pronounced their resolve to advocate for the effective implementation of these instruments.

Mr Mboge noted that The State of The Union (SOTU) Coalition operating in ten (10) AU Member countries namely South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Rwanda is firmly committed to popularising the relevant AU instruments that still remain powerful tools of protection   but which impact is mitigated because of not being operational for the reasons mentioned above.

He pointed out that under Article 4.1(b) of the Rules of Procedure, the Assembly of AU Heads of State has monitored the implementation of policies and decisions of the Union and ensure compliance by all Member States.

RADDHO’s Secretary General pointed out that if they want to boost the slow incorporation of AU protocols, decisions and guidelines by member states, they have to set the debate within their communities and citizens on the challenges of democracy, governance and development through the achievement of social, economic and cultural rights; and the importance of their participation at national and Pan-African level as well.