Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Organization of African Unity (OAU)/African Union at 50: The Quest for New Foundations of African Solidarity in the 21st Century

Mehari Taddele Maru
Pambazuka


The AU has now entered the new fifth era of delivery and democracy to avoid uprisings and revolutions and to ensure human security by re-inventing Pan-Africanism for 21st century Africa

INTRODUCTION

The Organization of African Unity (OAU) and later on the African Union (AU) will celebrate its fifty year anniversary on 25 May, 2013 in Addis Ababa. The Golden Jubilee celebration of an institution like the OAU and later the African AU is a special event. For Africans and friends of Africa, it has greater public importance. It offers an occasion for celebration. But more crucially, it presents a unique opportunity for critical introspection and collective reflection on the journey of Africa in the past half-century—which seriously affected the lives of millions of Africans both positively and negatively. Even most vital benefit of such opportunity needs to be seized to set a clear vision for Africa, craft commonly and widely shared mission to realize such a vision and mobilize the necessary commitment and resources to implement the mission. It is fitting for the new leadership of the AU Commission, under Dr Dlamini Zuma to present strategic plan of AU for the next 50 years. [1]

While building on the good Pan-African legacies of OAU, the AU needs to shift focus to new foundations of Pan-Africanism. But what are the good and bad legacies of the OAU/AU? What should be the focus of the AU to build on the good legacies of OAU and address the bad ones?

This article divides, and then explains, the last five decades of the OAU/AU into four eras : First, the Era of Pan-African Solidarity that mainly mobilized the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggle of Africa; second, the Era of Confusion and Division in which the Cold War brought ideological struggle between supporters of the West and the East that led to conspiratorial and undemocratic political mobilizations, dictatorial governance styles, bloody political changes through military coups, revolutions and civil wars; and third, with the end of the Cold War, the Era of an Interventionist and Integrationist Agenda necessitating the transformation of the OAU into the AU. Since the North African uprisings of 2011, Africa is now in Era of Popular Uprisings and Democratic Progress. [2] Admittedly, the subject matter of the OAU is quit rich and very broad to cover in an article, thus, it unavoidably condenses the history of five decades in an article which lacks some details and peculiar contexts of events.

The author suggests the need to move to a new fifth era of delivery and democracy to avoid uprisings and revolutions and ensure human security by re-inventing Pan-Africanism for 21st century Africa. By emphasizing the re-definition of Pan-African solidarity, the writer explains why poverty eradication and constitutional democratization should constitute the fresh compass for Pan-African and new frontiers for progress. The era of delivery and democracy should be based on strict adherence to the AU Constitutive Act [3] and a shift of mission from norm-setting to effective norm implementation of the various instruments and the overhauling of existing AU institutions and building effective and functional institutions. In this regard, the North African uprisings could be considered as markers of change for this era of delivery and democracy. These events have forced many people, particularly officials of the AU, leaders of African states and scholars to contemplate and debate the normative, legal and institutional questions related to democratic constitutional governance in Africa. [4]

In more than a dozen countries, including Sudan, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Burkina Faso and Lesotho, the protests have surged and fizzled due to many governmental interventions that partially and superficially address the causes of the protests. As a result, today’s Africa exhibits visible democratic progress since 2002 when the African Union (AU) was established. With three dictators toppled by the North African uprisings and sixteen democratically elected new leaders since 2010, the democratic profile of Africa has sharply increased. Each decade, the numbers of democratically elected leaders have surged faster than ever. Despite having some, but fewer, dictators and other leaders with contested mandates and diminished legitimacy due to election-related violence, evidently Africa has experienced what the author calls the “generational progression of democracy”. [5] After five decades, the composition of the leadership of the AU Summit in May 2013 will be certainly significantly more democratic compared with the early years of the AU.


ERA OF PAN-AFRICAN SOLIDARITY: ANTI-COLONIAL AND ANTI-APARTHEID STRUGGLE

Pan Africanis began with African diaspora’s struggle against slavery and search for African roots and identity. [6] Dedicated balck intellectuals, diplomats and activitists established the Pan African Conference (PAC) in 1900. [7] It was the first western based anti-colonial and pro black forum. [8] During World War II, the PAC opposed the invasion of Ethiopia by the Italian Fascist government. [9] In 1945, unlike the previous PAC meetings, the PAC meeting in Manchester, UK, organized by Dr Peter Milliard of Guyana, was attended by many delegates from the African continent who later became leaders of liberation movements and heads of states of newly independent African countries. [10] More than a decade later, in 1957, the idea of organizing a meeting of independent African states (at that time only eight) was discussed for the first time in London when the Prime Minister of the newly independent Republic of Ghana, Mr Kwame Nkrumah visited Ethiopian Ambassador Ammanuel Abraham on the margins of the Commonwealth Ministerial Conference on 1 July 1957. [11] Mr Kwame Nkrumah thought about organizing such a meeting in October the same year to issue a declaration of African and global affairs. [12] Similar ideas were also forwarded to Ethiopia by Morocco at the same time, but separately. [13]

Nevertheless, Ethiopia was of the opinion that the arrangement and the aim of such a meeting should be more than a formality and rather a declaration that could lead to the establishment of a Pan-African organization. As such the Ambassador of Ethiopia underlined the importance of internal consultations between the independent states before any declaration and meeting. [14] In August 1958, Ambassadors of Ethiopia, Ghana, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Libya, and Liberia hosted several consultative meetings in preparation of the agenda and date of the conference. A year later, and after a series of consultations, particularly between the government of Ethiopian and Ghana, Africa held its first Conference of Independent States in Accra on 15 April 1958. Despite being independent, the participating states were, however, divided into colonial-inherited linguistic, geographic and ideological groups. While the Francophone Brazzaville group had 12 states, Casablanca group was composed of eight Anglophone, Francophone as well as North African Arab countries. [15] With 21 countries, the Monrovia group was the largest and progressive group in terms of its Pan-African stance and commitment to the struggle against colonial powers. Ethiopia, with no colonial inheritance, served as a trusted home to all these groups. In this regard, Emperor Haile Sellassie pointed out that these groupings were seeds of division that needed to be undone by establishing the OAU:

“The commentators of 1963 speak, in discussing Africa, of the Monrovia States, the Brazzaville Group, the Casablanca Powers, of these and many more. Let us put an end to these terms. What we require is a single African Organization through which Africa's single voice may be heard, within which Africa's problems may be studied and resolved. We need an organization which will facilitate acceptable solutions to dispute among Africans and promote the study and adoption of measures for common defence and programmes for co-operation in the economic and social fields. Let us, at this Conference, create a single institution to which we will all belong, based on principles to which we all subscribe, confident that in its councils our voices will carry their proper weight, secure in the knowledge that the decisions there will be dictated by Africans and only by Africans and that they will take full account of all vital African consideration.” [16]

Five years later Ethiopia also initiated and hosted the May 1963 Conference of African Heads of State that led to the establishment of the OAU. The OAU was established in Addis Ababa with thirty-two independent African States with the ratification of the OAU Charter. [17] Speaking of the purpose of the Conference, Emperor Haile Sellassie succinctly pointed out that the “task on which we have embarked, the making of Africa will not wait. We must act, to shape and mould the future and leave our imprint on events as they pass into history.” [18] He added: “[w]e are determined to create a union of Africans. In a very real sense, our continent is unmade; it still awaits its creation and its creators.” [19] Due to its inspirational historical legacy, Ethiopia’s was considered as the neutral and natural place to unite the various fragmented groups of African states. [20] The OAU through its various multilateral coordination committees and bilateral decision of its member states become instrumental and eventually successful in achieving independence for all its members. [21]

THE ORIGINAL SIN OF OAU

Hypocritical rhetoric denied the logic of linking the legitimacy of external and internal policies of states. This was the marker of the false start for OAU. A hallmark of the OAU, the same leaders applied the most regressive interpretation of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states while cooperating on anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggle. Later on this became the original sin that paralysed the OAU almost for the next four decades.

Indeed, the OAU was not established on a solid foundation, because independent African states were permeated by flaws of their own making and by those of colonial and external forces. “When a solid foundation is laid, if the mason is able and his materials good, a strong house can be built.” [22] During this era of lifelong leaders, most of the founding fathers of the OAU were externally progressive but domestically regressive in their governance. Pertinent rhetoric denied the logic of linking the legitimacy of external and internal policies of states. Indeed, with the exception of a few leaders of the liberation struggle such as Nelson Mandela, most liberation and post-independence leaders became or remained dictators. Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State, noted:

“Leaders of so-called freedom movements are typically not democratic personalities; they sustain themselves through years of exile and prison with visions of the transformation they will bring about once they seize power. Humility is rarely one of their attributes; if it were, they would not be revolutionaries. Installing a government that makes its leader dispensable—the essence of democracy—strikes most of them as a contradiction in terms. Leaders of independence struggle tend to be heroes, and heroes do not generally make comfortable companions. [23]

This mismatch between regressive internal governance and progressive Pan-African solidarity allowed confusion to breed in the generation of independence.

Eras don’t end abruptly; they just wane away through time. Thus, with the emergence of a changed political climate and their failure to democratize internally, the Pan-Africanist Era ended in the killing, removal or death of some of the founding fathers, including Emperor Haile Sellassie, Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah, King Idris, Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, and Prime Minister Ahmed Ben Bella.

ERA OF CONFUSION AND DIVISION: THE COLD WAR AND IDEOLOGY

With leaders like General Said Barre, Colonel Houari Boumedienne, General Mobutu Sese Seko, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, General Moussa Traore, Ibrahim Babangida, General Gafar Numeiry, and Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, this was the African era of generals and colonels. [24] Africa entered a violent period after a brief hopeful era of independence and Pan-Africanism. The leftist groups of the 1970s and 1980s began to promote socialist ideals based on class as state ideology. In the name of nation-building and socialism they staged coups, engineered rebellions and installed dictatorship. Contaminated by Stalinist ideology, they used state power without restraint. When confronted with opposition groups demanding freedom, they replied ‘bread today, freedom tomorrow’ and built sophisticated structures of extreme violence against those opposed to them. With no tolerance whatsoever for differences of opinion or opposition, one group had to annihilate the other to establish a state and impose its own will on all others. Violence of a kind that was alien to Africans was introduced by the generation of that era, and in turn that generation became incapacitated by terror. During this era, violations of human rights were endemic; protection of minority groups was deliberately and effectively abandoned. The rule of law was routinely disregarded and replaced by the harsh rule of dictators and constitutions made impotent and useless. Attempts at democratization were devastatingly crushed by the new leaders of Africa’s independent states. [25] Leaders of this era unashamedly stole the sincere ideals of progressive members of the generation of the 1960s and 1970s, mainly those from leftist groups, and abused the struggles for their own personal gain. The regimes of this era had two cardinal failings: politics through extreme violence that was alien to Africa, and a self-serving leadership. The result of this era of confusion and division was destruction, blood and tears. Despondent about such outcomes, within two decades the leadership of that era abandoned their ideologies of the Cold War and left Africa in disarray. Most the colonels and generals were toppled by opposition parties, left-leaning rebel groups, coups and uprisings. Devoid of a common cause that united the OAU in its struggle against colonial and apartheid, and besieged by various regional competition and political conspiracy, the OAU lost a new cause to rally around.

ERA OF INTERVENTION AND INTEGRATION: FROM OAU TO AU

In the early 1990s, Africa was no longer a proxy for the superpowers. Africa’s civil wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burundi, the Central African Republic and Guinea Bissau; genocide in Rwanda; state failure in Somalia; and secessionist movements in Ethiopia and the Sudan became real challenges for the new and old African leadership, demanding urgent attention and action. African conflicts became more intra-state and less inter-state, with localized manifestations and coverage rather than civil wars that engulf and divide an entire country. As a result, Africa witnessed three times more internal displacements than refugees. The humanitarian crises in Somalia [26] and Darfur [27] were the worst, with more than six million deaths and forced displacements.

The end of the Cold War offered African leaders an opportunity to seek African solutions to a variety of African problems. [28] To meet these challenges, the institutional transformation of the OAU into the AU began with the declaration of the OAU Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Governments in September, 1999, in Sirte, Libya. [29] Indicative of the purpose, the title and theme of the Summit, “strengthening OAU Capacity to enable it to meet the Challenges of the New Millennium,” was to amend the OAU Charter in order to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the OAU. [30] This extraordinary summit, and later the AU Constitutive Act, shifted the mission and vision of the OAU, mainly from an organization of anti-colonial and anti-apartheid solidarity, to the more interventionist and integrationist AU.

The era of intervention and integration began with the transformation of the OAU to the AU with an attempt to answer a quest for new causes and redefining Pan-Africanism. With the transformation of the OAU to AU, the AU came up with a new vision and mission for Africa’s renaissance. Based on the AU Constitutive Act, the first AU Commission Strategic Plan declared that the vision of the AU is “to build an integrated, a prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena”.

In this regard, the AU Constitutive Act bestowed the AU with robust substantive mandates such as the right of intervention in Member States of the AU, and an institutional makeup such as the Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). [31] Under Article 4 of the, the AU has the right to intervene [32] in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government (the Assembly) to prevent any grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. [33]

The AU has taken important steps in resolving these tensions between sovereignty and responsibility. Thus, the conception of sovereignty as responsibility fundamentally amends the old principle of non-interference in internal affairs of a sovereign state. It asserts the prime responsibility of the states and the subsidiary duty of the international community in ensuring the ‘safety, lives and welfare’ of human beings globally. Indeed, with increasing universal recognition of the principle of the responsibility to protect, state sovereignty progressively becomes a functional tool with the sole purpose of discharging the duties of a state. Subsequently, the AU officially approved the principle of the responsibility to protect. [34] This is a result of the shift of mission that accompanied the transformation of the OAU to the AU. The AU in this regard has been at forefront of adopting a progressive normative frameworks such as the Kampala Convention [35] and the Lomé Declaration of July 2000 on the Framework for an OAU Response to Unconstitutional Changes of Government (the Lomé Declaration) [36] and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance (the Addis Ababa Charter). [37] These progressive norms represents an indirect recognition of the re-conceptualization of the principle of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs by the emerging principles, namely, the responsibility to protect and subsidiarity/complementarity of international human rights protection to national protection mechanisms. It is within this context that AU has been pushing for “African solutions for African problems”. Increasing interventionism came as a result of the AU mandate and increasing demands internally and externally for Africans to solve their problems by themselves. This is what is called “African Solutions for African Problems”. Without being isolationist and recognizing the transnational nature of today’s peace and security challenges such as terrorism, organized and international crimes, and maritime security, this approach sets a Pan-African commitment and approach for the implementation of the new emerging interventionist power of the AU. This also marks Africa’s attempt to ensure the ownership its destiny.

The shift from collective security of states to human security was articulated in detail in the AU Constitutive Act, the AU Strategic Plans and the various instruments. With the ultimate purpose of eradicating violent conflicts and poverty from Africa, APSA and NEPAD as part of the AU architecture for poverty eradication and development took pride of place in the work of the AU.

With these architectures, the AU and its member states endorsed the Millennium Development Goals, a reinforcement of the need to re-define and establish new Pan-Africanism that serves the Era of Intervention and Integration. The AU Constitutive Act, APSA and NEPAD could be considered as primarily an unofficial attempt to re-define Pan-Africanism as new milestones. In the past ten years, the AU has responded to urgent crises in more than 21 countries. Decisions and interventions by the AU, the IGAD, the ECOWAS, and SADC on Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia, Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Lesotho, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, São Tomé and Príncipe, Côte d’ Ivoire, Togo and Mauritania, Madagascar, and the Comoros Islands testify to the interventionist development. [38] IGAD initiated actions by the AU in sending AMISOM peacekeeping forces to support the weak Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, and the actively supported peacekeeping efforts in Abyei, the disputed border area between South Sudan and the Sudan. The same can be said about ECOWAS. The Southern African Development Community has been highly involved in the political processes in Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Burundi. The international community and the AU has outsourced its responsibility on the mediation between South Sudan and Sudan to the Mbeki Panel (the AU High Level Panel). Moreover, the AU has been highly involved in the monitoring elections in Africa and later on in mediation efforts when post-election violence occurred in many African countries. In this regard, the AU has been relatively successful in Kenya (2007), Zimbabwe (2008), and Côte d’Ivoire (2010).

Nonetheless, a salient characteristic of this era of intervention and integration is the democratic profile and generational composition of African leaders. The first AU summit was composed of long serving dictators, some of them from independence-liberation movements, such as Mr Robert Mugabe, new generation rebel leaders such as Mr Yoweri Museveni, who waged decades of protracted civil wars that toppled military dictators, and democratically elected leaders, such as Mr Thabo Mbeki. During this era, we have witnessed political struggles for amendments of constitutions to extend terms of office of Presidents and Prime Ministers or/and unconstitutional changes of government (Niger, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Madagascar, Nigeria, Algeria, Uganda are examples), numerous elections marred by vote rigging and post-election disputes and violence , fragmented political parties and mandates, and grand coalitions (Zimbabwe, Kenya, Cote D’ Ivoire, Ethiopia etc ). Since the establishment of the AU, more than 35 countries (example Ghana, Tanzania, Senegal, Nigeria, Benin, Zambia, Mauritius, South Africa, Bostwana, Namiba, Mozambique, Malawi, Ethiopia, etc) have conducted democratic elections, where half of them achieved a peaceful transfer of power to victorious opposition parties or new leaders. [39]

NEW ERA OF PAN-AFRICANISM: DELIVERY AND DEMOCRACY

African States: strong on the wrong functions, weak on the right areas

Most of the problems that Africa faced and continue to face are not unique. Many states elsewhere face similar problems. The problem in Africa emanates from mainly the nature of state and external interferences. What is distinctively disturbing with Africa is the state of affairs of the states and political parties. Currently all protracted and complicated problems in Africa in some form or another relate to lack of legitimacy either due to unpopular governance and intolerance to diversity, lack of capacity and will for performance to deliver public goods. African states are either failed, or perform poorly. Political problems rather remain central in all these protracted and complicated problems in Africa. Undemocratic political system and mobilization are the heart of the existence of failed states, or poorly performing states. African States are strong on the wrong functions, weak on the right areas. Many African states in conflict are strong in the wrong functions of state, effective only on the maintenance of government security, the interest of political parties and individuals or groups. They are vigorous and resourceful in deception, intimidation, and repression. Many African states allocate enormous resources to highly specialized military and para military forces, undertaking high technology surveillance, and lobbying.

Indeed, largely attributable to bad governance in the post-independence African states and incorrect prescriptive policies of dominant powers and global governance institutions, African states have been reduced into ‘police-states’ strong only on securing and maintains power unconstitutionally through brutalizing politics and sheer brute force. Since 1960s, states are depicted as enemies of their own societies. With various external interferences and other internal causes, the roles of African states have been minimized and non-state actors, mainly due to international support, offer many of the services that states are supposed to provide. Several western initiatives including the Washington Consensus came to empower CSOs to deliver most of the soft security and in some cases hard security in the name of private security firms. Done at the expense of states, this resulted in weak and non-viable states most often unable carry out state core functions that could have endowed them with the legitimacy states deserve. African states became fragile displaying weakness and vulnerabilities of their various organs with limited control of the means of violence and their territories leading to ungovernable spaces where most of the massive human rights violations occur.

Investment on non-state actors has accelerated the delegitimization of the state in Africa. This increased legitimacy of non-state actors resulted in a backlash from states that attempted to stifle CSOs as currently witnessed in many African countries. That is the reason why China, through its unconventional development path and soft loans, has provided African governments with the possibility of tipping the balance of legitimacy for states at least in the delivery of some public goods. Indicative of popularity of soft intervention, African governments continue to be attracted to China. Chinese support to Africa without some form of conditionality may deflate progress to democracy unless Chinese pragmatism leads to pressurize governments to exercise legitimate power. [40]

At the same time these states are weak on right functions of states mainly in ensuring human security of their populations. Human Security has two aspects--hard security, which refers to the absence of war, violence and destructive conflicts and soft security would entail the eradication of the root causes of war and violent conflicts. Extreme poverty and injustice of various kinds breed discontent that makes poor and aggrieved people prone for manipulation by violent extremism. According to John Gay, people with no political rights, and physically and socially insecure, even if they ‘assess their nation as not-democratic, express dissatisfaction with democracy, distrust their public institutions, question the authority of the constitution, and look favourably on a military government.’ [41] For this reason, they are unwilling to defend any democratic institutions or partially democratic systems. [42] Moreover, they can be easily aroused to uprisings. On the other hand, better-off persons (who have accumulated wealth legally due to the economic growth or illegally through corruption) desire democracy for they want more. [43] Thus, social stability may become elusive if democracy and delivery are incrementally ensured in many African countries. It is worthy to note that the North African uprisings were born out of desperation due to the absence of opportunities to pursue a decent livelihood and the lack of meaningful political reform. The absence of constitutional means for changing governments peacefully as a safety valve in times of public displeasure led to changes of government by violent means.

Political parties are solely interested in ascending and maintaining power by any mean. As witnessed in the North African countries, participation in politics was considered a private money-making business pursuit in the public sphere. Politics served as a racket to amass wealth. This unhealthy political mobilization led to the undemocratic internal governance of political parties. Thus, extreme poverty will remain the main obstacle to a meaningful life and indirectly to stability in Africa. Ensuring soft security for all people creates sustainable hard security. These characteristics indicate poor performance or total state failure constituting the highest threat to human security. State failure happens when a state fails due to inability or lack of willingness to perform the legitimately expected services. This may be caused by failure to enjoy performance or popular legitimacy. Such a situation could be created as a result of highly diminished or total lack of democracy in the form of participation and contestation, or when the state fails to deliver public and political goods such as law and order, necessary hard infrastructure and basic necessities for its citizens.

In a nutshell, democracy without delivery faces serious challenges of social stability; delivery without democracy devalues the dignity of being a human being and diminishes the capacity for growth. A vital deterrent effect and message particularly to newly elected and emerging political leaders is that power exercised solely on the basis of performance legitimacy through delivery of services would prove difficult to sustain.




CONCLUSION

The North African uprisings revealed the vulnerability of Africa states and weakness of the AU. The slow, but comparatively well formulated response of the AU [44] to the uprisings exposed the dearth and impotence of the AU in challenging leaders like the late Muammar Gaddafi who ruled Libya for decades, without legitimacy of any kind. The uprising initiated a useful introspection about the need for the AU to insist on the democratic reform of governance and peaceful democratic transition. By not demanding democratic reform of governance in countries like Libya, ruled by one person for more than four decades, Africa and the AU by default facilitated the flawed military intervention by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Libya. [45]

By re-inventing Pan-Africanism for the 21st century Africa, the AU at this moment in time needs to move to a new era of delivery and democracy. By emphasizing the re-definition of Pan-African solidarity, poverty eradication and constitutional democratization should constitute the new frontiers of Pan-African progress. The era of delivery and democracy should be based on strict adherence to the AU Constitutive Act and a shift of mission from norm-setting to effective norm implementation of the various instruments and the overhauling of existing AU institutions and building of effective and functional institutions. In this regard, the North African uprisings are what some social scientists call “markers of change” for this era of delivery and democracy. Despite having some, but fewer, dictators and other leaders with contested mandates and diminished legitimacy due to election-related violence, evidently Africa has experienced what the author calls “generational progression of democracy”. Now after fifty years of the OAU and ten years of the AU, the composition of the leadership of the 2013 May AU Summit is significantly more democratic than the early years of the OAU and AU.

Nonetheless, efforts need to focus on transforming the behaviour of leaders, strengthening the institutions of states, democratising political parties and building the capabilities of the RECs and the AU to respond effectively to both soft and hard insecurity. States are the key drivers of change in Africa without which efforts towards peace and development would remain futile. The main challenge ahead for Africa will be to build the capacity and the will to discharge their obligations under the AU and in terms of international law. In a nutshell, they have to deliver and democratize. The various AU policies and treaties are all about deliver and democracy including the APSA and AGA.

ESTABLISH THE RELEVANCE OF AU TO THE PEOPLES OF AFRICA: NATIONAL AND REGIONAL CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCES (NCCS)

The first measure to capacitate the states to conduct AU National and Regional Consultative Conferences (NCCs) in each member state on the implementation of the various norms and institutional frameworks. The AU should go to the member states to facilitate the diffusion and implementation of these norms. The NCCs will be used for diffusion, ratifications, consultations in domestication and designation of a focal point as well as serve as an exercise of an oversight function on implementation.

END NORM-SETTING, FOCUS ON NORM IMPLEMENTATION

The AU's different normative and institutional frameworks are designed to enhance the state capacities to fulfill their responsibilities of delivery and democracy. The AU has more than 200 well-advanced legislative and policy frameworks on several issues covering the four pillars including 43 treaties and conventions. Nine of them have yet to enter into force. These policies cost at least 1 million USD from the first draft by a consultant to adoption by the heads of state. Nonetheless, currently the AU Commission, which is the engine of AU, lacks the political will of member states and faces leadership deficit in the implementation of these policies.

In 2011, the AU approved 263,814,748 USD. [46] While the AU member states contribute 48 percent of the budget, remaining amount constitutes donors’ fund. [47] The total amount of fund collected in 2011 was 144, 200,000 USD, of which 61 percent was from member states and the 39 percent from donors. Indeed, the development partners failed to fulfill more than 60 percent of their pledge in 2011. [48] The AU expressed its concerns of donors “making pledges without honoring them fully. There was, therefore, a need to reverse the ratio of funding between the partners and the Member States so that the Union does not run into serious problems when funds from partners would not be forthcoming.” [49]

In 2013, the AU has allocated 278,226,622 USD for 2013, which shows an increase of 15 ml USD increase. [50] The total contribution of member states shows an increase of 8 million from 2011, however, the increase in percentage remains low compared to donors’ contribution which shows a 16 percent increase. Unlike 2011, AU is dependent on donors for more than 55 percent of its total budget. AU programmes budget continue to be covered by the donors. [51]

In 2013, the majority of funding pledge from donors has been secured. However, China still needs to fulfill its pledge of 20 ml USD for 2013. [52] With the new Chinese built AU complex, a significant reduction of expenditure on rentals allows for reallocation to some programmes. The AU called for its member states “to assume responsibility of funding the Organization instead of leaving it to the partners.” [53]

The AU Commission takes 78 percent of the budget followed by NEPAD (10 percent), PAP (4 percent) and African Court on Human and People’s Rights (3.2 percent) and African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (3.1 percent) and the remaining divide to the remaining organs of the AU including the PSC with 700,000 USD. [54] The Pan African University (PAU) has a special fund with 12.1 million USD for 2013. [55] However, the actual expenditure of the AU stands at 63 percent of the total approved budget, which low absorption capacity. This nonetheless conceals even deeper problem at the AU. The AU Commission budget execution rate remains weak at 60 percent for 2011. Of the AU programmes fund available (77.3 million USD), the execution rate remains very low at 39 percent, while the execution rate of the operational budget is 92 percent including salary and allowances paid. Absorption capacity of all departments of the AU Commission remains a dismal of 50 percent, and some departments such as the Department of Social Affairs “struggling between execution rates of 15% and 25% budget execution.” [56] For almost eight years, the Department of Social Affairs functioned only with less than 30 percent of staff complement that was approved since 2003. [57]

Due to lack of progressive follow-up and investigation as well as sanction on the leadership of the departments, departments with the lowest rate of execution almost always request for an allocation of more funds for Year 2013. [58] This ascertains the lack of accountability of mainly the leadership the AU Commission but also that of the staff members. The very slow recruitment rate, high turnover of new staff members, low execution rate of the programmes, and weak budget utilization stems from various challenges mainly as a result of leadership deficiency, managerial weakness, lack of accountability and responsibility, archaic and to heavy hierarchical structure and stringent procedures of approval plans and recruitment, and lack of meritocracy in the recruitment process. Ambitious plans that proffer minimal consideration to the existing implementation capacity and disregard the above mentioned internal constraints contribute to the gloomy utilization of resources at the AU.

Accordingly the AU needs to swiftly implement these policies in cooperation with member states to increase its impact and relevance on the ground. With strong leadership of the AU Commission focused on vision and legacy, the AU could daily become the driver of change in the AU and Africa. But first the AU Commission itself needs internal good governance. So radical reform of the AU Commission is in order.

OVERHAULING THE ENGINE: REFORM AT THE AU COMMISSION

With ten elected portfolios, 1458 staff members, the AU Commission has six core functions. First, it serves as power house the AU and its various organs. A vital organ of the AU, the AU Commission serves as the secretariat responsible for conducting the day-to-day affairs of the AU. [59] More importantly, it provides substantive expertise for various bodies, such as the Peace and Security Council of the AU and coordinates their activities and meetings. [60] Second, it represents the AU in all intentional and continental relations. It promotes and defends the interests of the Africa. [61] Thirdly, it convenes the summits and other varied meetings of member states to discuss common agenda items and take decisions. It is the single most continual platform for norm-setting. [62] As its fourth core function, it disseminates norms set, and decisions taken by the AU. It also assists in the implementation of norms and decisions by member states and supervises their execution of them. More importantly, it prepares the strategic plan and budget of the AU in consultation with wide-ranging actors.

While member states are the body parts of the AU, the Commission is the engine on which the Union depends, not only for its effective functioning, but also for its ability to achieve its objectives as set out in the Constitutive Act of the AU. The leadership and management of the Commission is therefore a key factor for the success of the AU, both at the continental and global levels. Nonetheless, the current human capacity of the AU Commission is 52 per cent of its approved staff complement. It has 19 directors, 691 staff members, of which 293 are professionals. There are also 324 professional vacant posts, which constitutes 48 percent. Moreover, its programmatic budget execution rate remains at disappointingly low 40 per cent. Thus, the AU is working with half its approved human resource and absorption capacity. This critical failure of the AU is partially attributable to the lack of capacity at the AU Commission which resulted from weak leadership.


THE LEADERSHIP FOR CHANGE IN THE AU

With a leadership that is concerned about its commitment to Africa and legacy, not salary and second term, the AU Commission has all the elements of becoming the "game changer" in Africa. This role can only be achieved if the leadership tackles the following five constraints that bind the AU since its creation: 1) radical internal reforms of the AU Commission to make it a machine of innovative delivery on AU four pillars; 2) recruitment of competent Africans to realise the full complement of the AU Commission based on meritocracy; 3) ending norm-setting and utilizing all resources for norm-implementation; 4) increasing the contribution and seeking alternative sources of funding and living within the means; 5) capacitating states and enabling REC to deal with the issues of integration and human security within the AU normative and institutional frameworks.

* Dr. Mehari Taddele Maru is an independent consultant. Until August 2012, he was the Programme Manager for African Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis at Institute for Security Studies. A former fellow of very prestigious programmes at Harvard and Oxford Universities, he holds Doctorate of Legal Sciences (Dr. iur.) from JL Giessen University, Germany, MPA from Harvard and MSc from University of Oxford and LLB from Addis Ababa University. Dr Mehari has served as the Programme Coordinator for Migration and Legal Expert at the African Union Commission. He worked as Director of the Addis Ababa University Office for University Reform.

END NOTES

[1] One can question the wisdom of having a strategic plan for five decades, if it will be a living document given rapid on going changes due to globalization and more so rapid development in the economic and political landscape of Africa. The author is currently working on a critique on the AU Strategic plan.

[2] Not all African countries are at the same stage of progress in democratization, for more details see African Union Panel of the Wise (2010) ‘Election-Related Disputes and Political Violence, Strengthening the Role of the African Union in Preventing, Managing, and Resolving Conflict’, The African Union Series, New York, International Peace Institute.

[3] The AU Constitutive Act of the African Union, OAU, ‘Decision on the Establishment of the African Union and the Pan-African Parliament’, AHG/Dec.143 (XXXVI), Protocol on Amendments to the Constitutive Act of the African Union, available online at http://www.africa–union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/treaties.htm (accessed on 11 January 2012).

[4] The AU Peace and Security deliberate on the matter several times where this author have been requested and presented a paper on the same topic to the 284th to AU Peace and Security Council and the Permanent Representatives Committee joint plenary session on the strengthening of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) of the African Union to improve prevention, management and resolution of the crises emanating from popular uprisings in Africa (in partnership with the Institute for Security Studies -ISS) July 11 2011. This contribution of ISS was recognized by the 18th AU Summit in January 2012; see Report of the Peace and Security Council on its Activities and the State of Peace and Security in Africa, Assembly of the African Union, Eighteenth Ordinary Session, 29-30 January 2012, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Assembly/AU/6(XVIII). For detailed analysis of this topic, see also Mehari Taddele Maru (2012) Rethinking the North African Uprisings, African Union Herald, AU Commission, December 2012, http://www.au.int/SP/auherald/contributors/mehari-taddele-maru (accessed 4 February 2012); Mehari Taddele Maru (2012) The North African Uprisings under the African Union ‘s Normative Framework, Conference on the Implications of North African Uprisings for Sub Saharan Africa, Inter-Africa Group, August 2012, Universal Printing Press, Addis Ababa , 0115157064.

[5] Mehari Taddele Maru (2012) Salient Features of the 18th African Union Summit: Generational Progression Democracy in Africa, available from http://studies.aljazeera.net/en/reports/2012/02/20122111410505510.htm(accessed 4 February 2012).

[6] Makinda, Samuel and Okumu, Wafula. (2010) “The African Union: Challenges of globalization, security and governance”, Global Institutions, Routledge, Tylor and Francis Books. Pp.18-19; Drago, Edmund L. (1978) “American Blacks and Italy's Invasion of Ethiopia” Negro History Bulletin 41, Pp. 883-4; Du Bois, William E.B (1976) The World and Africa. Millwood, N.Y.: Kraus-Thomson Organization; Du Bois, William E.B (1963) “The Pan-African Movement.” In History of the Pan-African Congress: Colonial and Coloured Unity, a Programme of Action, George Padmore (ed), London: Hammersmith Bookshop. PP. 13-26.

[7] Sherwood, Marika (1995) Manchester and the 1945 Pan African Congress, available from www.wcml.org.uk/contents/international/pan-african-congress/ (access 10 January 2013).

[8]The OAU Archeives, Speeches and Statements, Addis Ababa, available http://www.oau-creation.com/Part%20three.htm (accessed 21 October 2011); Saheed A. Adejumobi, “The Pan-African Congress,” in Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations, Nina Mjagkij, ed. (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 2001). Henry Sylvester-Williams was the leading back intellectual who founded and led PAC.

[9] Du Bois, William E.B (1935) “Inter-Racial Implications of the Ethiopian Crisis” Foreign Affairs 14), Pp. 82-92;

[10] Kinfe, Abrahm (1996) “The Meaning and Pan-African and International Significance of the Adowa Victory”, Adowa Victory Centenary Conference, IES, 26 Feburary-2 March 1996, Addis Ababa.

[11] Ammanuel Abraham (2000) ‘YeHiwete Tizita’, Addis Ababa University Press, Addis Ababa, Pp. 122-127.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ammanuel Abraham (2000) ‘YeHiwete Tizita’, Addis Ababa University Press, Addis Ababa, Pp. 122-127.

[15] Makinda, Samuel and Okumu, Wafula. (2010) “The African Union: Challenges of globalization, security and governance”, Global Institutions, Routledge, Tylor and Francis Books. Pp. 21-22.

[16] His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, Speech to the African Summit, speech May 26, 1963, available from http://www.black-king.net/haile%20selassie%2006e.htm (9 November 2012).

[17] Emperor Haile Sellasie, Africa’s Independence Day, speech April, 1963. OAU, OAU Charter, 25 May 1963, available from http://www.au.int/en/content/oau-charter-addis-ababa-25-may-1963 (accessed 01 May 2013)

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Wodajo, Kifle (1964) “Pan-Africanism: the Evolution of an Idea”, Ethiopia Observer, Vol. 8, Issue 2, Pp. 166-172; Kinfe, Abrahm (1996) “The Meaning and Pan-African and International Significance of the Adowa Victory”, Adowa Victory Centenary Conference, IES, 26 Feburary-2 March 1996, Addis Ababa.

[21] Makinda, Samuel and Okumu, Wafula. (2010) “The African Union: Challenges of globalization, security and governance”, Global Institutions, Routledge, Tylor and Francis Books. Pp.23.

[22] His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, Speech to the African Summit, speech May 26, 1963, available from http://www.black-king.net/haile%20selassie%2006e.htm (9 November 2012).

[23] Henry Kissinger (1994) Diplomacy, Simon and Schuster, New York, Pp. 638-639.

[24] Makinda, Samuel and Okumu, Wafula. (2010) “The African Union: Challenges of globalization, security and governance”, Global Institutions, Routledge, Tylor and Francis Books. Pp.79-83.

[25] Ibid.

[26]Mehari Taddele Maru (2008) The Future of Somalia’s Legal System and Its Contribution to Peace and Development, Journal of Peace Building and Development, Vol. 4, No. 1, Centre for Global Peace, American University, http://pascal.library.american.edu:8083/ojs/index.php/jpd/article/view/109/117(accessed 12 March 2011).

[27] Mehari Taddele Maru (2011), ‘The Kampala Convention and Its Contribution to International Law’, Journal of Internal Displacement, Volume 1, No. 1, also available from http://journalinternaldisplacement.webs.com/announcements.htm(accessed 28 November 2011).

[28]ibid.

[29] African Union Summit, Transition from the OAU to the African Union (noting that the purpose of the Extraordinary Session entitled “Strengthening OAU Capacity to Enable It To Meet the Challenges of the New Millennium” was to amend the OAU Charter to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the OAU), available at http://www.au2002.gov.za/docs/background/oau_to_au.htm (last visited August 11, 2002).

[30] African Union Summit, Transition from the OAU to the African Union, available at http://www.au2002.gov.za/docs/background/oau_to_au.htm (last visited August 11, 2002).

[31] The AU, its mandates and institutions are discussed in detail in the Chapters Three and Four.

[32] Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act stipulates “the right of the Union to intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity” and Article 4 (j) which states the “the right of Member States to request intervention from the Union in order to restore peace and security.” These formulations are put as a ‘right’ not an “obligation”. Nonetheless, they are conceived rather as duty of the AU and member states when grave circumstances prevail in another member state.

[33] The AU Constitutive Act of the African Union, OAU, ‘Decision on the Establishment of the African Union and the Pan-African Parliament’, AHG/Dec.143 (XXXVI).

[34] African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR), ‘Resolution on Strengthening the Responsibility to Protect in Africa’, (ACHPR, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, 28 November 2007), ACHPR/Res.117 (XXXXII) 07.

[35] See Mehari Taddele Maru (2011), ‘The Kampala Convention and Its Contribution to International Law’, Journal of Internal Displacement, Volume 1, No. 1, also available from http://journalinternaldisplacement.webs.com/announcements.htm(accessed 28 November 2011).

[36] For detailed discussion see Mehari Taddele Maru (2012), “On unconstitutional changes of governments: the case of the National Transitional Council of Libya”; African Security Review, 21:1, 67-73; http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/10246029.2011.639189 (accessed 24 February 2012) or http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10246029.2011.639189 (accessed 10 March 2012).

[37] Organisation of African Unity, Assembly of Heads of State and Government, Lomé Declaration of July 2000 on the framework for an OAU response to unconstitutional changes of government (AHG/Decl.5 (XXXVI), 36th ordinary session held in Lomé, Togo,
10–12 July 2000, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/compilation_democracy/lomedec.htm (accessed 12 December 2011); African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, Assembly/AU/Dec.147(VIII), Adopted by the eighth ordinary session of the Assembly, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 30 January 2007, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/AFRICAN_CHARTER_ON_DEMOCRACY_ELECTIONS_AND_GOVERNANCE.pdf (accessed 07 January 2012). This charter entered into effect in January 2012.

[37]ibid.

[38]Mehari Taddele Maru (2012) Salient Features of the 18th African Union Summit: Generational Progression

Democracy in Africa, available from http://studies.aljazeera.net/en/reports/2012/02/20122111410505510.htm(accessed 4 February 2012).

[39] Makinda, Samuel and Okumu, Wafula. (2010) “The African Union: Challenges of globalization, security and governance”, Global Institutions, Routledge, Tylor and Francis Books. Pp.79-83.

[40] Gay, John (2003) Development as Freedom: A Virtuous Circle? Afrobarometer Paper No. 29, Pp. 12.

[41] Gay, John (2003) Development as Freedom: A Virtuous Circle? Afrobarometer Paper No. 29, Pp. 5-7.

[42] Gay, John (2003) Development as Freedom: A Virtuous Circle? Afrobarometer Paper No. 29, Pp. 12.

[43] Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union on the State of Peace and Security in Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 25 May 2011, Ext/Assembly/Au/Dec/ (01.2011), Decision of the Peaceful Resolution of The Libyan Crisis, Enhancing Africa’s Leadership, Promoting African Solutions, Ext/Assembly/Au/Dec/(01.2011).; PSC 261st Meeting, Communiqué on Situation in Libya, PSC/PR/COMM(CCLXI), 23 February 2011, and Statement from the Chairperson of the AU Commission, 23 February 2011.

[44] African Union, Communiqué of the Meeting of The AU HighLevel Ad Hoc Committee on Libya, Nouakchott, Islamic Republic of Mauritania, 19 March 2011. Report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on the Activities of the AU High-Level Ad Hoc Committee on the Situation in Libya, PSC 275th Meeting, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 26 April 2011, PRC/PR/2(CCLXXV).

[45] Weissman, Stephen, “In Syria, Unlearned Lessons from Libya”, April 19, 2013, In These Times, available http://inthesetimes.com/article/14898/in_syria_unlearned_lessons_from_libya/ (accessed 1 May 2013); For details see, Maru, Mehari and Derso, Solomon (2013) “The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Intervention in Libya and its Political and Legal Implications for the Peace and Security Architecture of the African Union: A View from Africa”, AU and NATO Relations: Implications and Prospects, NATO Defense College, NDC Forum Papers Series; Opinion adopted and approved in plenary meeting of the African Union Commission on International Law, Addis Ababa, May 12, 2011, 17H45mn; Robert Booth, Libya: Coalition bombing may be in breach of legal limits, The Guardian (28 March 2011), available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/28/libya-bombing-un-resolution-law; S.C. Res. 1973, U.N. Doc. S/RES/1973 (Mar. 17, 2011). It was adopted by a vote of ten in favour, none against, and five abstentions: permanent members China and the Russian Federation, plus non-permanent members Brazil, Germany, and India.

[46] Report of the Joint Meeting of the Advisory Sub-Committee On Administrative and Budgetary Matters and Sub Committee on Programmes and Conferences Report of the Advisory Sub-Committee on Administrative, Budgetary and Financial Matters, Executive Council, Twenty-First Ordinary Session, 9 – 13 July 2012, Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA EX.CL/720(XXI)i.

[47] ibid

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid

[50] Decision on the Budget of the African Union, for the 2013 Financial Year, Doc. EX.CL/721(XXI), the Assembly, Assembly of the Union, Nineteenth Ordinary Session 15 - 16 July 2012, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

[51] Decision on the Budget of the African Union, for the 2013 Financial Year, Doc. EX.CL/721(XXI), the Assembly, Assembly of the Union, Nineteenth Ordinary Session 15 - 16 July 2012, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

[52] Report of the Joint Meeting of the Advisory Sub-Committee On Administrative and Budgetary Matters and Sub Committee on Programmes and Conferences Report of the Advisory Sub-Committee on Administrative, Budgetary and Financial Matters, Executive Council, Twenty-First Ordinary Session, 9 – 13 July 2012, Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA EX.CL/720(XXI)i.

[53] Report of the Joint Meeting of the Advisory Sub-Committee On Administrative and Budgetary Matters and Sub Committee on Programmes and Conferences Report of the Advisory Sub-Committee on Administrative, Budgetary and Financial Matters, Executive Council, Twenty-First Ordinary Session, 9 – 13 July 2012, Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA EX.CL/720(XXI)i.

[54] Decision on the Budget of the African Union, for the 2013 Financial Year, Doc. EX.CL/721(XXI), the Assembly, Assembly of the Union, Nineteenth Ordinary Session 15 - 16 July 2012, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

[55] Decision on the Budget of the African Union, for the 2013 Financial Year, Doc. EX.CL/721(XXI), the Assembly, Assembly of the Union, Nineteenth Ordinary Session 15 - 16 July 2012, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

[56] Report of the Joint Meeting of the Advisory Sub-Committee On Administrative and Budgetary Matters and Sub Committee on Programmes and Conferences Report of the Advisory Sub-Committee on Administrative, Budgetary and Financial Matters, Executive Council, Twenty-First Ordinary Session, 9 – 13 July 2012, Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA EX.CL/720(XXI)i.

[57] Report of The 3rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council on the Proposed Structure, Human Resource Requirements And Conditions Of Service For The Staff of the Commission of the African Union and their Financial Implications, EXECUTIVE COUNCIL, Third Ordinary Session 4 – 8 July 2003, Maputo, MOZAMBIQUE, EX/CL/Dec.34 (III), Assembly/AU/Dec.22, Doc. EX/CL/39 (III).

[58] Report of the Joint Meeting of the Advisory Sub-Committee On Administrative and Budgetary Matters and Sub Committee on Programmes and Conferences Report of the Advisory Sub-Committee on Administrative, Budgetary and Financial Matters, Executive Council, Twenty-First Ordinary Session, 9 – 13 July 2012, Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA EX.CL/720(XXI)i.

[59] Art. 2 Statutes of the Commission of the African Union (2002)

[60] Ibid.

[63] Ibid.

[62] Ibid.

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