AU Watch

African Governance Architecture

The overall political and institutional framework for the promotion of democracy, governance and human rights in Africa is the African Governance Architecture , established during the 16th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government in 2011 . Like the African Human Rights System, the AGA is composed of three principal pillars: (i) norms (ii) organs and institutions and (iii) oversight mechanisms.

It is inspired by the Constitutive Act of the African Union that expresses the AU’s determination to ‘promote and protect human and people’s rights, consolidate democratic institutions and culture and ensure good governance and the rule of law’. This determination is buttressed by related objectives and principles contained in Article 3(g and h) and Article 4(m) of the Act on the promotion, protection and respect for human rights, democratic principles and institutions, and good governance. These ideals are further reinforced by norms, pronouncements, decisions and instruments adopted by the AU in particular the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance .

The mandate of AGA stems from the Decision of the 15th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government (AU/Dec.304 (XV) held in July 2010  which recalled the decision adopted by the 16th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU  and endorsed by the 14th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union  Heads of State and Government to dedicate the theme of the 16th Ordinary Session of the African Assembly to the Shared Values of the AU, that was held in Addis Ababa in 2011 and provided a mandate for putting in place a ‘Pan-African Architecture on Governance’. In order to give effect to the Assembly decision on the Establishment of the Pan-African Governance Architecture, the African Union Commission (AUC) established AGA as a “platform for dialogue between the various stakeholders” who are mandated to promote good governance and strengthen democracy in Africa, in addition to translating the objectives of the legal and policy pronouncements in the AU Shared Values.

WHY AGA?
a) Accelerate the ratification, domestication, implementation and monitoring of African Shared values instrument

b) Deepen synergy, coordination, cooperation and harmonization of shared values instruments among AU organs, institutions and RECs on democracy, governance, human rights and humanitarian affairs.

c) Enhance the capacity of AU organs, institutions and RECs to support Member States to strengthen governance and consolidate democracy through implementation of shared values agenda

d) Enhance popular participation and citizen engagement in attainment of democracy, governance and respect for human and peoples’ rights

e) Coordinate evaluation and reporting on implementation and compliance with AU norms on governance and democracy as envisaged by article 44, 45 and 49 of the ACDEG.

f) Foster dialogue and share comparable lessons on trends, challenges, opportunities and prospects for improving governance and democracy among Member States

g) Generate, manage and disseminate knowledge on African shared values agenda, good governance and democracy in Africa.

h) Facilitate joint engagement and deepen synergy with the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) in strategic interventions: preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention and post-conflict, reconstruction and development in Africa.

Guiding Principles
The following principles are derived from AU Shared Values particularly the Constitutive Act and the African Charter on Elections, Governance and Democracy
a) Effective participation of the African peoples in strengthening and consolidating democratic governance in Member States and continental affairs;
b) Respect for democratic principles, human rights, the rule of law and good governance;
c) Holding of regular, transparent, free and fair elections;
d) Promotion of the principle of separation of powers;
e) Promotion of gender equality and youth empowerment;
f) Promotion of transparency and fairness in the management of public affairs;
g) Condemnation and rejection of acts of corruption, related offenses and impunity;
h) Condemnation and rejection of unconstitutional changes of governments.
i) Strengthening political pluralism and recognizing the role, rights and responsibilities of legally constituted political parties, including opposition political parties.

Shared Values Instruments
Shared Values are a means of accelerating Africa’s integration agenda through values and principles that are embodied in the various instruments, decisions and declarations that have been adopted by the Union.

• African Charter of Human and People’s Rights
• African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
• Protocol to the African Charter establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
• OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa
• Constitutive Act of the African Union
• African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption
• African Youth Charter
• African Charter of Democracy, Elections and Governance
• Constitutive Act of the African Union
• Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice & Human Rights
• Algiers Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes
• Lomé Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government
• Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa
• African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa
• Conference on Stability, Security, Development and Democracy (CSSDCA) Memorandum of Understanding
• OAU/AU Declaration on Principles Governing Democratic Elections
• African Union Post-Conflict and Reconstruction Policy Framework
• Kigali Declaration on Human Rights in Africa
• Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa
• Memorandum of Understanding on the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)
• Declaration on the Theme of the 2012 Summit “Towards Greater Unity and Integration through Shared Values
• New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic & Corporate Governance
• Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union

Platform Members/Institutions

The respective mandates of the Platform Members point to the centrality of human rights, democratic governance and the participation of citizens for the transformative development and integration in Africa.

  • AU Peace and Security Councilis the standing decision-making organ for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts with a mandate to promote peace, security and stability in Africa.
  • African Union Commissionis the Secretariat of the Union entrusted with executive functions, including driving the African integration and development process in close collaboration with African Union Member States, the Regional Economic Communities and African citizens.
  • Regional Economic Communities (RECs)have a mandate to facilitate cooperation and provide security, economic and development support at a regional level. AMU/UMACEN-SADCOMESAEACCEEAC-ECCASCEDEAO-ECOWASIGAD and SADC are considered to be the building blocks of the African Economic Community.
  • African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)is mandated to protect and promote human and peoples’ rights on the continent. It is specifically mandated to interpret the provisions of the Charter upon request by a state party, organs of the AU or individuals. The Commission has also adopted many resolutions expounding upon the provisions of the Charter.
  • African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR)was established to complement and reinforce the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights by strengthening the human rights protection system in Africa and ensuring respect for and compliance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as well as other international human rights instruments, through judicial decisions.
  • Pan-African Parliamentaims to provide a common platform and ensure the full participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of the continent. Its ultimate aim is to evolve into an institution with full legislative powers, whose members are elected by universal adult suffrage.
  • African Peer Review Mechanismis a voluntary self-assessment tool instituted by African Heads of State in 2003. The APRM was designed to promote more effective governance across four thematic areas: Democracy and Political Governance, Corporate Governance, Economic Governance and Management, and Socio-economic Development.
  • AU Advisory Board on Corruptionhas a mandate to develop and promote the adoption of harmonized codes of conduct of public officials. It aims to develop methodologies on how to deal with the scourge of corruption and to disseminate information and sensitize the public on the negative effects of corruption and related offences.
  • Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC)is the vehicle for building a strong partnership between governments and all segments of African civil society. It is an advisory organ composed of different social and professional groups of the AU Member States. It is mandated to promote dialogue and forge strong partnerships between governments and all segments of civil society, while also promoting and defending a culture of good governance, democratic principles and institutions, popular participation, human rights, social justice and gender equality.
  • NEPADPlanning and Coordination Agency is the technical body of the African Union, with a core mandate to facilitate and coordinate the implementation of regional and continental priority programmes and projects and to push for partnerships, resource mobilisation and research and knowledge management.
  • African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC)aims at protecting and promoting the rights enshrined in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, particularly to document information and encourage relevant national and local institutions to undertake initiatives towards this cause, while making recommendations to Member States. The Committee formulates and lays down principles and rules aimed at protecting the rights and welfare of children in Africa
  • African Union Commission on International Lawaims at promoting the progressive development of international law in Africa and its codification.

Mechanisms for Interaction
AGA Platform

To operationalize the AGA, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government affirmed the importance of establishing an African Governance Platform in Assembly/AU/Dec.1 (XVI), a basis for facilitating harmonisation of instruments and coordination of initiatives in governance and democracy. Consequently, the Platform was established as the institutional framework of the AGA, composed of AU Organs, Institutions and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) with a formal mandate for the promotion and sustenance of democracy, governance and human rights in Africa. The Platform serves as a first concentric circle that draws inspiration and inputs from representative of AU Organs, Institutions and RECs and a second circle of continental stakeholders in the private sector, development partners, civil society and the diaspora. The Platform serves as the coordinating arm or catalyst for the achievement of the goals of AGA. In this role, it does not assume or duplicate the functions established by other policy organs, rather it provides a framework for interaction, active engagement, synthesis and convergence.

The Platform serves as the coordinating arm or catalyst for the achievement of the goals of AGA. In this role, it does not assume or duplicate the functions established by other policy organs, rather it provides a framework for interaction, active engagement, synthesis and convergence amongst them. The Platform is organized along five clusters and these are:
d. Constitutionalism and Rule of Law
i. Rejecting Unconstitutional Changes of Government
ii. Executive, Legislative and Judicial Systems

e. Humanitarian Assistance
i. Free Movement of Peoples
ii. Refugees
iii. Protection of Civilians

AGA Secretariat

The AGA Secretariat is housed in the Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission (AUC) and serves as the coordinating hub of the Platform.

The Secretariat has over the last five years undertaken several critical and innovative initiatives aimed at facilitating the achievements of the objectives of the AGP. Specifically, in 2014, the Secretariat opened up new frontiers for citizen engagement, including development of engagement standards and mobilisation of women, youth and civil society to meaningfully participate in democratic governance processes and agenda on the continent. The Secretariat has further deepened synergy, coordination and cooperation among AGP members; contributed to the generation of knowledge on good governance and democracy in Africa; set standards for the evaluation and reporting on implementation and compliance with AU norms on governance and democracy as envisaged in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG); as well as enhanced joint engagement in strategic interventions, including coordination of interdepartmental efforts towards preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction and development in Africa.

Working on the Platform
The Platform offers a flexible and dynamic meeting point that facilitates information flows, exchanges and dialogue; and promotes synergies, mutual complementarity, close coordination, collaboration and concerted action on democratic governance issues. In this capacity, it performs the following specific functions:
a) Coordinate efforts by Platform Members to accelerate the elaboration, popularisation, domestication and reporting of African Shared Values on democracy, elections, governance, human rights and humanitarian assistance across the continent;
b) Facilitate the harmonisation of instruments and coordination of initiatives in governance and democracy amongst Platform Members;
c) Evaluate implementation of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance as envisaged by Article 45(c) of the Charter;
d) Encourage the active participation of African peoples in democratic governance initiatives and programmes;
e) Foster a systematic exchange of information on democracy, governance, elections, human rights and humanitarian assistance across the continent;
f) Create a framework for dialogue and cross-fertilization of ideas and comparable lessons and experiences among the Platform Members and key stakeholders in the promotion of good governance and strengthening of democracy in Africa; and
g) Strengthen the capacity of Platform Members to track compliance and implementation of the AU Shared Values by AU Member States.