RELEASE DATE: 29TH JANUARY 2012
BRIEFING NOTE ON STATUS OF IMPLEMENTATION OF AU TREATIES AND POLICY STANDARDS
Dismal national performance by African Governments undermines AU and continental vision
Eighteen months ago at the 15th Ordinary Summit of the African Union in Kampala, Uganda, African Presidents committed themselves to universally ratify all AU Treaties. The Executive Council made an “explicit request to specific AU organs, RECs, International and Regional Organizations and Civil Society to “assist with advocacy and sensitization of member states to expedite the process of ratification of/ascension to OAU/AU Treaties….” (Decision 571 (XVII)) It also instructed the commission to institute a regular reporting mechanism to the Executive Council on the implementation of this particular decision.
The Executive Council decision 566(XVII) on the report of the Third Conference of the African Minister in Charge of Youth called on expeditious signing, ratification and/or acceding by member states that haven’t done so. It requested the Commission to support member states in efforts to popularize, ratify and implement the Charter. It further requested the Commission to report on implementation of this decision to the Ordinary Session of the Executive Council in January 2012.
Since Kampala Summit, no Government has ratified all the 42 legal Treaties and met this target. Only 4 countries, less than 10% of the Union have ratified five or more instruments. The best performer Burkina Faso, has entered 7 ratifications since the Kampala Summit. Zambia, Gabon and Rwanda have ratified 5 instruments.
This pace of ratification will not transform the poor record of ratification since 1963. Since the OAU was formed, only 25 out of 42 instruments passed by the continental body have come into force after being ratified by the requisite number of member states. The best performing countries in terms of the total number of ratification are Mali (33), Rwanda (30), Niger (30), Libya (29), Senegal (27) and Burkina Faso (27). Only 19 member states have ratified at least 2/3 of all the instruments. 17 countries have ratified less than 15 instruments. They are Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Swaziland. The worst performers are led by Sao Tome and Principe (5), Somalia (6) and Eritrea (6)
The performance of Member States in ratifying, domesticating and integrating AU decisions at the national level must also become a criteria for electing the next Commission and for selecting the Chairperson of the African Union. We must reject the election and selection of applicants whose countries have no commitment to continental integration. The current Chair, Equatorial Guinea, has a dismal total of 12 ratifications out of a possible 42 instruments. This trend must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Unless the AU reverses the slow pace of ratification of AU instruments and their implementation, the growing disconnect between continental promises and the lived reality of most Africans will continue. The shared values of democracy, justice and prosperity will be translated across the continent and there will remain a serious credibility gap in the eyes of men and women in the continent.