Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
Frustrated by the poor image of the AU around the world, but nevertheless inspired and hopeful of the role a resurgent AU could play in regional peace and prosperity and achieving Agenda 2063, AU Watch’s founders set about creating a pan-African institution that could combine establishment credibility with intellectual insurgency. As an influential and award-winning African NGO, based in Banjul, The Gambia, AU Watch has been dedicated to finding ways to project the AU’s image as a force for good in a world that most often looks down on the efforts of the AU. After a few short years AU Watch has become one of Africa’s preeminent regional policy and practical institutions focused on the work of the AU and its Member States, to transnational challenges ranging from political and economic integration, governance and rule of law, corruption, to its work on women and the African youth.
As we celebrate another year, the team at AU Watch continues to provide strategic insight, practical and policy solutions to assist African policy managers chart a course toward a more peaceful and prosperous Africa, through our cutting-edge independent research and practical solutions to some of the region’s most intractable challenges.
The founders of AU Watch, all legal and media practitioners understood that the media can be a useful and powerful tool not only to confront human rights violations and address issues like insecurity, governance, democracy, poverty and ignorance, but can also be an indispensable medium in bringing the AU and its programs to the people who need it the most. Using the power of the media to communicate the mission and vision of the African Union and AU watch, they set up this unique organization with the objective of informing and empowering people and communities to tell their stories and enable them to claim their basic human rights, to escape ignorance poverty, injustice and misrule. AU Watch also provides a safe meeting space for policy-makers, activists and intellectuals to share ideas; offer a media platform to get AU leaders to talk about their work and the role of the AU in Africa.
The organization’s ten full-time staffs in five countries and large network of affiliated scholars conduct research and analysis and develop policy initiatives that look to the future and anticipate change.
We work with the AU, AUMS, other CSOs, international organizations, local, regional and international media, local people to understand the key issues which affect their lives and to ensure their voices are heard locally, nationally and internationally. Our work is underpinned by our understanding of these issues and their importance in building lasting peace.
What We Do
MONITOR AND HOLD TO ACCOUNT THE AU AND ITS MEMBERS
AU Watch monitors the deliberations, decisions, activities and performance of the AU and AU Member States by the standard of the Constitutive Act and the standards of the legal instruments of its various institutions. It challenges and holds to account the AU and States Parties to the Constitutive Act to live up to the standards and ideals they have set for themselves. We believe AU leadership is essential in the regional struggle for security, development, and human rights, so we press the AU and its states managers to respect the laws they create and the treaties they sign. When they fail, we step in to demand reform, accountability, and justice.
PROMOTE UNDERSTANDING OF THE AU
AU Watch is also committed to advancing the wider understanding of the AU – its various institutions and programs, and their critical security, political, economic and human rights issues of the twenty-first century and their potential resolution. Through its comprehensive communication, media, outreach and education programs and activities, it seeks to raise awareness, disseminate and expand information and understanding of AU affairs, empowering people and communities to have the power to claim their basic human rights, to escape poverty, injustice, and misrule.
PROMOTE CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT WITH THE LEADERSHIP OF THE AU
AU Watch promotes constructive engagement with the leadership of the AU and its institutions. The aim is to promote the adoption of sound policies to further social justice, regional peace and security and maintain civilised relations amongst Member States. We are working for the realisation of a politically united Africa
WE PROMOTE AND PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS IN AFRICA
Enhancing the promotion and respect for human rights, rule of law, and democratic principles, promoting democracy and good governance through on and offline campaigns, developing strategies and gathering resources in securing compliance with human rights norms. We work with government authorities to improve human rights situations, to eliminate abuses, and to encourage ratification of international treaties and agreements related to human rights. We provide legal services to victims of human rights violations at national and international fora.
We provide legal assistance to victims of human rights abuses to individuals and groups. We provide human rights training and resources across a range of institutions, including schools, colleges military, police and correction services. We collaborate with the media to disseminate information pertaining to human rights education awareness-raising.
The organisation has a Legal Directorate of lawyers and jurists with wide experience of human rights and humanitarian law that litigate cases on a range of human rights issues, including discrimination, social injustice issues, freedom of information, citizenship, freedom of expression, national criminal justice, deaths in custody and torture, economic justice, international criminal justice, corruption and the human rights impact of counter-terrorist policies. Strategic human rights litigation seeks to use the authority of the law to advocate for social change on behalf of individuals whose voices are otherwise not heard.
CAMPAIGNS & ADVOCACY
AU Watch is a movement of passionate, committed, everyday people. Together we use our voices to influence political decisions that will bring an end to social injustice and an Africa that is politically and economically united. Our campaigners receive training, support, and inspiration to become skilled advocates. In time, they learn to effectively advise policy makers, guiding them towards decisions that improve everything that needs improving in Africa.
We empower people by helping them voice their opinions and feelings, stand up for their rights and demand justice from their leaders. And if they don’t feel able or lack the capacity to do this, we will represent their interests and speak up on their behalf.
WE HELP TO EDUCATE AFRICA’S YOUTH
Every child has the right to education: this is a principle that has been guaranteed in a range of African human rights instruments, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and affirmed most recently by the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 4 which calls for universal access to quality educational opportunities.
It cannot be denied that Africa is growing. However, there remains persistent inequalities, social fragmentation, and political extremism. We see education as a way out of many of the challenges facing the continent.
PROMOTE SUSTAINBLE DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA
Improving the well-being of Africans continues to be one of the main focuses of the AU, especially for its Agenda 2063 program. The global understanding of development has changed over the years, and countries now have agreed that sustainable development – development that promotes prosperity and economic opportunity, greater social well-being, and protection of the environment – offers the best path forward for improving the lives of people everywhere. We support and promote sustainable development in Africa.
RESEARCH AT AU WATCH
Research underpins all that we do at AU Watch. Taking a multidisciplinary approach and working with an international network of partners to develop research which we actively seek to see applied in practice, AU Watch carries out authoritative research on major subjects affecting the AU and its Members, provides strategic analysis and practical solutions to assist AU decision-makers and other stakeholders in achieving their goals. We aim to develop new ideas on how best to confront critical challenges faced by the AU and its Members and take advantage of opportunities to resolve challenges confronting its various programs and institutions.
WE DEVELOP TOMORROW’S LEADERS
We develop tomorrow’s leaders disrupting corruption, poverty and social injustices. The catastrophe of bad leadership has created the impression that the African is incapable of finding African solutions to the problems affecting the continent, and this is not exactly a product of colonialism or neo-colonialism. The Nelson Mandela Leadership Academy’s multidisciplinary programming helps aspiring interns and young professionals take their leadership capabilities and AU policy knowledge to the next level. Nelson Mandela Leadership Academy’s goal is to foster growth and collaboration within all AU Member States and institutions of higher learning as well as to help prepare employees for challenges and opportunities in their future careers.
WE HOST ANNUAL SUMMITS
We stage an Annual Summit where the most valuable young talent from the region – schools, companies, NGOs, universities and other forward-thinking organizations are joined by world leaders, acting as Counsellors. At the Summit, delegates debate, formulate and share innovative solutions for the pressing issues the world faces.
WE CREATE PLATFORMS THAT DRIVE CHANGE
In an era of sound bites and partisanship, we remain dedicated to providing clear, thoughtful, and independent analysis on vital public policy issues on the AU and its Member States. Using all means possible — from social media, adverts, AU Watch Online radio, blogs, news and academic journals, Web features, op-eds and AU Watch own TV, to seminars, conferences, research reports, speaking engagements and books — we work tirelessly to present citizens with incisive and understandable analysis of the work of the AU, its institutions and programs.
In the 54 African countries, we run hundreds of private and public events – conferences, workshops and roundtables, interviews with leading AU personalities, seminars, yearly schools athletics, football and other sports competitions, press conferences / briefings, schools / colleges debating competitions, moot court competitions for schools and colleges, spelling competitions for junior and senior schools and radio and TV debates on all AU matters. Our media work offers Africans to think differently, learn collaboratively and join a global community of learners and doers with a burning desire to change the world.
WE DO A LOT OF MEDIA & PR WORK
We bring the issues you are concerned about and news you want the AU to respond to – to the farms, markets, schools, living rooms and cafes of Africa. Through our television and radio debate shows, dramas, public service announcements, mobile phone services and face-to-face communication we provide individuals and communities a platform to engage their state managers and question them on issues which they are concerned about. Our television, radio and digital programs directly engage people and the AU in discussions, encourage communication across political, ethnic, religious and other social divides.
We provide spokespeople for television, radio and press concerning the range of issues covered by the AU. Whether it’s social and economic policy analysis, human rights, conflict and peace, development, security, education governance and more we have the experts who can articulate the issues clearly. AU Watch understands that media and communication can have a deep and positive result on the lives of people – especially on the poor and vulnerable. Using its network of scholars, volunteers and other professionals, including think-tanks, AU Watch uses media, research and evaluation to help inform political, economic and social policies at the AU to improve people’s lives and to bring about lasting change.
Our media work also includes producing:
• Short films
• News briefs
• On-line commentaries
• On-line articles on topical issues
• On-line news letter
• Collaborative work / publications with organs and institutions of the AU.
TRAINING AND SHARING INFORMATION
Building and strengthening capacities are crucial to our work with individuals, communities, media professionals, the AU and its Member States and other CSOs. By sharing skills and knowledge – whether with policy makers, journalists, businesses, students, our volunteers, youths and other local and international organisations – we empower people to understand and claim their rights, make informed choices and improve their outlook on life.
International institutions like the AU play an important role in supporting governments and communities. It has great potential to get Africa into 2063. Unfortunately, the AU’s practical capabilities suffer from a persistent capabilities-expectations gap, falling well short of the ambitious vision and rhetoric contained in its founding documents. The AU is aware that its performance and effectiveness are patchy and, in many cases, not effective. Many of its constituents even doubt its usefulness. But we are of the view that the AU’s shortcomings are not fatal. It remains in our considered opinion the best alternative for achieving regional peace and prosperity for Africa. Together, we can bolster the AU’s capacity in the near and long terms. In that regard, our projects are rooted in local people’s experiences and understanding – providing insight into people lives to ensure that our projects reflect their needs and circumstances. Underpinning all our projects is the objective of empowering the African citizenry, help them make sense of the socio-economic and political events, within Africa’s foremost multilateral organisation, engage in dialogue with its leaders and take action to improve their lives. Consequently, strengthening capacity is key to our work with individuals, communities, audiences, media professionals, the AU and its member states and other CSOs. By sharing skills and knowledge, we improve people’s ability to make informed choices and improve their lives.
WE CONDUCT NUMEROUS TRAINING COURSES ON A RANGE OF THEMES.
Our training courses combine knowledge sharing and skills building, with plenty of opportunity to reflect on your work. We offer bespoke trainings, where we work closely with you to tailor the training to your specific learning needs, taking into account the realities in which you work. We are of the view that to properly understand the AU, and indeed many of the challenges of Africa demands not only an understanding of African international affairs, but a deep and comprehensive knowledge of the culture and history of Africa and its various constituents, and continuous interaction with a broad cross-section of these societies. We have some of the finest scholars and analysts in our team, with a thorough understanding of the politics and social dynamics of Africa. Many of them worked with the AU for many years. We are therefore in the best position to develop new ideas on how best to confront critical issues faced by the AU and Africa, and take advantage of opportunities to resolve challenges confronting it. Using what we have learned as an organization, our expert knowledge, experience and ideas enable us to shape the future of many of the issues we follow at AU Watch. Policy recommendations are developed in collaboration with our policymakers, experts and stakeholders.
PROVIDE PRACTICAL ASSISTANCE
We try to make a difference in the lives of people. We give practical assistance to the most vulnerable members of our communities. Whether we are participating in constructing a library or a girls training institute or litigating for the protection of LGBT rights in front of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, or the Ecowas Court of Justice, our goal is to ensure that we make a difference to address regional challenges that demand AU attention and leadership. We provide practical help like grants, loans and technical assistance for projects benefiting the African youth, women and vulnerable communities. We assist the AU and its Member States to achieve the goal of serving vulnerable communities through sustainable community development.
1. Using a variety of mediums and strategies we raise awareness about what the AU is, its projects and programs. We produce radio and television programs on the AU. We also use social media, mobile phone services and convene a host of other activities to build knowledge, and bring about shifts in attitudes, norms and behavior, in the relevant areas of AU interventions. We empower people to question what their leaders are doing and why they are doing whatever they say they are doing. We aim to get every child, woman and man understand their rights; understand what the AU and AUMS is doing and why.
2. We offer the AU and AUMS a space to engage in public and private dialogue with some of Africa’s most vulnerable communities – people who are often excluded from decision making. For example, we are campaigning for the elected Chairperson of the AU, on being elected to that high office, to give an Africa-wide 45 minutes televised ‘State of the Union Address to Africa’, to tell us about his or her programs and policy for Africa for the next one year. We hope that the ‘State of the Union Address’ to Africa will become an institutional event, wherein the Chairperson will be able to explain to us his / her plan for the following year, and what had been achieved the previous year, including challenges.
3. We offer Africa’s youths and the general public, but especially some of Africa’s most excluded communities a platform to question the AU and its Member States and hold those in power to account. Our publications, television, radio and digital programs engage AU officials and AU Member States in open debates and discussions and encourage communication across political, ethnic, religious and other social divides.
4. AU Watch collaborates with African international organizations, African CSOs and other local and international partners seeking to become one more voice and action-oriented organization in defence of human dignity and freedoms. While recognizing the many challenges faced by the AU and its Members, we advocate finding ways to build on its strengths and use its limited resources effectively.
5. We carry out independent and rigorous analysis of critical African, regional and country-specific challenges and opportunities related to the AU, its institutions and programs.
6. As a practical organization, we respond to real challenges in Africa by assisting the most vulnerable people and communities by giving practical development assistance and supporting training in many areas of AU related programs like, education, human rights, climate change and natural resource, agriculture and development. As first responders we also assist in some of Africa’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people in difficult circumstances, especially those devastated by conflict and disaster.
To learn more about what we do, click here.
Women’s empowerment is an intentional component of our work. We remove barriers to women’s economic empowerment –creating access to credit, basic productive resources, technical training and market opportunities. We see a direct link between women’s equitable participation in decision-making and an increase in the economic and social well-being of families. Our programs encourage:
• Women exercising their economic rights
• Women’s decision-making capacity regarding economic and natural resources
• Women’s active participation in generating household economic resources
• Women owning land, small businesses and earning living incomes
We support the full and equitable development of women and men to strengthen families and improve communities. To ensure women are equally involved in decision-making, we work with women’s groups and mixed-gender groups. We encourage husbands and wives to share in decision-making, ownership of animals, labor and the benefits of projects. Training uses a family focus, demonstrating how gender equity benefits all family members. Our programs promote gender equity through:
• Training on human rights and gender equity
• Training on the rights of children
• Access to education by all school-age girls and boys
• Women in leadership and decision-making roles
• Equity in workload through appropriate technology and shared responsibilities
Assisting in changing the way all of us think about the AU, and do things for and on behalf of the AU and AUMS, underpins our work at AU Watch. That concept of CHANGE is reflected in our work on the AU and AUMS. Assisting in changing what the AU does and how it works is at the heart of our work at AU Watch. We are practical development organisation. What does that mean?
• As a practical organisation, we respond to real challenges in Africa by assisting the most vulnerable people and communities by giving practical development assistance and supporting training in many areas of AU related programs like education, human rights, climate change and natural resource, agriculture and development. As first responders, we also assist in some of Africa’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, education, economic well-being, and power to people in difficult circumstances, especially those devastated by conflict and disaster. Our approach should not be seen as a return to neo-liberal development policies, but rather as an alternative development approach – pragmatic approach that works. We tackle the causes of poverty, hunger and ihopelessness at the root. We aim to plant trees of hope.
• Building and strengthening capacities are crucial to our work with individuals, communities, media professionals, the AU and its Member States and other CSOs. By sharing skills and knowledge – whether with policy makers, journalists, businesses, students, our volunteers, youths and other local and international organisations – we empower people to understand and claim their rights, make informed choices and improve their outlook on life. We try to make a practical difference in the lives of people. We give practical assistance to the most vulnerable members of our communities. Whether we are participating in constructing a library or a girls training institute or litigating for the protection of LGBT rights in front of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, or the Ecowas Court of Justice, our intention is to ensure that we make a difference to address regional challenges that demand AU attention and leadership. We provide practical help like grants, loans and technical assistance for projects benefiting the African youth, women and vulnerable communities. We assist the AU and its Member States to achieve the goal of serving vulnerable communities through sustainable community development.
• We deliver knowledge, transparency, and expert guidance to the AU, AUMS, our publics, especially women and girls, solving social problems through the mobilization of the masses.
• We gather and analyze data, share it worldwide, and help to empower disadvantaged communities in Africa to understand their rights and ability to improve themselves and the region.
As an advocacy, campaigning and outreach organisation, we are reaching out to Africa’s policy and state managers to improve the political and legislative terrain in which CSOs and media professionals’ work, as they are a crucial plank in developing people’s capacity to make informed choices and changing minds and attitudes. We shall shortly be rolling out curricula for primary, secondary and tertiary levels on knowledge about the AU – courses / curricula which we believe should be taught at civics, history or politics classes in our schools and universities. Is there any justification why our schools are not offering courses on ‘AU Law and Institutions’, or ‘AU History’, but instead our institutions teach ‘UN Law and History’? Building and strengthening capacities for us means knowing how our own systems work as well!
Our programs are structured to help the AU and AUMS, other CSOs and ordinary people find solutions to challenges of governance and development. For example, using media and communication, we provide a platform and empower people to have a say in the way the AU and its member states govern the continent. We provide training, advice and support. We advise companies, AUMS and international organizations on how their policies and operations can better support the ordinary people in Africa.
AU Watch recognizes and accepts that the AU is an organization that Africa and the world needs and is here to stay. It further recognizes and is convinced that the AU is the best political forum Africans have for multilateral dialogue and concerted action. We Africans should not only treasure it, but wherever we are should assist it in ensuring that it fulfils its mandate for the greater good of the continent and the entire world.
We invite you to explore our website. Call us, write to us at any of our addresses below. This is your organization. Without your support it will not work. There is a role for everyone.Go through our handbook and see how you can participate in delivering justice for Africa’s poor and marginalized! We mobilize people around the continent for change, and act in solidarity with other CSOs advocating and campaigning against injustice, poverty, human rights violations, corruption, poor governance, insecurity and inequality.
At AU Watch we are convinced that a democratic, human rights compliant, secure, forward looking, transparent Africa is possible. We are aware that the AU Watch project is a huge under takings, a task we simply cannot do without you.