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The Democracy and Civic Engagement Unit at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, cordially invites you to the East Africa-Kenyan Chapter - Civil Society Engagement on the working of the Pan-African Parliament to be held from 25 - 26 April 2022.

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East Africa-Kenyan Chapter - Civil Society Engagement on the working of the Pan-African Parliament

Wednesday 25 - 26 April 2022

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Context

Public participation is regarded as one of the most important components of democracy. This democratic ideal speaks to fostering citizen involvement in and understanding of decision-making processes that affect them. Public participation is linked with other democratic ideals such as representation, transparency, and accountability. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are one of the vehicles that citizens have used to form a collective voice to influence decision-making and address issues that affect them. On the continent, CSOs are important in amplifying the citizen voice through the various issues they address. CSOs provide a platform and access for various groups to have their needs and interests represented. CSOs also provide a platform for expression, pursuit, and protection of varied interests of the specific groups they represent. CSOs play a critical role in democratic consolidation on the continent through the oversight role of holding governments accountable and lobbying for transparency, promotion, and protection of human rights, and the consolidation of democratic ideals towards ensuring good governance in Africa.

About the Pan African Parliament

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) was established as the legislative arm of Africa's supranational Union with consultative and advisory powers. The aim was to ensure inclusiveness, through the creation of a platform to mainstream Africans voices to fully participate in decision-making processes on matters affecting the continent in all spheres of life, including human rights, rule of law, good governance, democracy, peace, and security, integration, and development. The Parliament currently represents all AU member states, except for Eritrea. The Parliament has its seat in Midrand, South Africa, and consists of representatives nominated by local legislatures of member states. 

While the PAP Protocol makes provisions for African citizenry participation and the PAP have taken strides towards implementing this, the absence of a normative framework and established formal mechanism of engagement with civil society is concerning. Despite its potentially crucial role in PAP’s activities, civil society still knows very little about this institution. For most CSOs, the PAP, and the AU in general, are largely invisible, and too distant to access or influence with their advocacy. 

About the PAP Civil Society Forum 

The Centre for Human Rights working with the PAP and civil society partners established a fledgling PAP Civil Society (CSO) Forum to allow space for civil society to get better acquainted with the PAP and explore avenues for greater involvement and collaboration. Furthermore, to enhance the PAP’s visibility and improve people’s level of appreciation of its mandate and role, the Centre for Human rights developed a Toolkit for CSO Advocacy in the PAP published in 2020.  The toolkit provides CSOs with an extensive institutional framework of the PAP to familiarise civil society with the basics of the PAP and its further identifies potential areas for civil society engagement with the PAP.

About Mzalendo Trust

Mzalendo (‘Patriot’ in Swahili) Trust is a Kenyan non-partisan Parliamentary Monitoring Organization started in 2005 and whose mission is to ‘keep an eye on the Kenyan parliament.’ Through information sharing, research and networking, we promote greater public voice and enhance public participation in politics by providing relevant information about the National Assembly and Senate's activities. Our vision is to see informed, empowered, and engaged citizens transforming society by holding their leaders to account. 

To enhance public participation in legislative development, Mzalendo has robust offline and online platforms that allow citizens to air their voices and views on various legislations under active consideration. Through our online Dokeza (Swahili for sharing your views/ideas) platform, we facilitate online public participation in refining various legislations. Therein, members of the public can access bills, read and share their views  which we, in turn, collate and present on their behalf to the relevant House of Parliament (Senate or National Assembly). 

In addition, Mzalendo Trust and cognizant of the important role played by civil society organizations, Mzalendo convenes various networks and collaboration initiatives to facilitate engagement in the legislative process. Key among this is the Civil Society Parliamentary Engagement Network (CSPEN), a network of about 28 organizations with an interest in working in parliament.  In addition, they are also the Convenors of the CSO partners within the Open Government Partnership framework and the lead for the Public Participation and Legislative Openness Commitment as articulated in the 4th National Action Plan currently under implementation.   

Leveraging on this joint experience,  CHR and Mzalendo Trust in partnership with PNAfrica are  hosting  a CSO forum in Nairobi, Kenya on 25-26 April 2022.  The meeting will bring together 30 participants drawn from civil society organizations under the CSPEN and OGP umbrellas, Media Organizations, academia and Parliamentary Representatives.

Objectives

The meeting seeks to achieve the following objectives:

  1. To sensitize civil society organizations on the workings of the PAP 
  2. To explore ways of engaging with the various regional parliaments on the Continent 
  3. To raise awareness about the importance of transparency and accountability in the operations of domestic and regional Parliaments on the Continent
  4. To identify gaps and challenges relating to civil society engagement with the PAP and devise effective strategies for addressing them towards the establishment of best practices of engagement with Pan-African Parliament.

Outcome

  1. Increased Public Participation & Citizen Engagement in Legislative Processes in Africa
  2. Strengthened relationship between African CSOs and members of the PAP
  3. Enhanced transparency and accountability in the operations of domestic and regional Parliaments on the Continent
  4. Increased openness, transparency, and accountability in PAP’s operations.
  5. Enhanced collaboration with reformers and champions to increase PAP’s transparency of information.

Special Thematic Issues

The importance of transparency and accountability in the operations of the domestic and regional parliament: Role of Civil Society in Enhancing Legislative Openness.

CSOs play an important independent role in technical analysis and advocacy vis-avis Parliaments on their specialty areas of focus. They also help aggregate and represent the views of their constituencies. CSOs influence public policy in openness, transparency, and accountability as they operate on different themes with diverse tools to amplify their voice and advocacy on legislative issues. Mzalendo Trust, for instance, continues to convene and facilitate the work of the CSPEN as the key platform for outreach and coordination of Kenyan CSOs on Parliamentary affairs. CSOs, therefore, have remained key players in improving Kenya’s and Africa’s public consultation around legislative issues.

Equality Now

Equality Now, founded in 1992, is an international human rights organization that works to achieve legal and systemic change that addresses violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world, with a focus on ending sexual violence, harmful practices, sexual exploitation, and achieving legal equality. Combining grassroots activism with international, regional and national legal advocacy, Equality Now’s approach links high-level policy advocacy and global activism with support and legal advice to grassroots partners and networks working on specific cases of women and girls in order to promote change at all levels. 

Equality Now is also a founding member and the Secretariat of the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) Coalition. Founded in 2004, SOAWR is a regional network of 63 national, regional, and international civil society organisations based in over 30 African countries. The primary area of focus for SOAWR has been advocacy for African States to urgently ratify, domesticate and implement the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol).  

This session seeks to discuss transparency and accountability in the operations of the domestic and regional parliament, which will eventually - 

  1. Lead to the increased oversight role of the African CSOs on the operations of PAP.
  2. Steer the adherence to rule of law by PAP representatives.
  3. Encourage the public to embrace and expect their leaders for greater accountability and transparency.
  4. Further the realization of inclusive and participatory governance in Kenya and Africa.
  5. Enhance consultation of, and accountability to citizens across Kenya and Africa.

Business and Human Rights & the Rights of Girls

Accountability for Investment: The role of the State to protect the citizens.

In contemporary times, corporations are covering significant ground in the area of investment for development in Africa. Governments’ actions aimed at economic recovery post the COVID 19 pandemic are increasing reliance on corporations/private entities to significantly invest in, among others, sectors that deliver public services. However, this is providing mileage to corporations to influence national legislation, particularly the review of laws and policies to ensure profit and shield them from costs of upholding human rights wherever they invest. This entrenches corporate capture and by extension, deters the application of safeguard policies of their international financiers that would protect the rights of persons affected by the investment/development projects. A move to review and harmonize legislation for investment is pertinent for corporate accountability in the region. As civil society actors, we look to the Pan African Parliament to;

  1. Review the legal framework within which corporations operate in their member states to assess compliance to human rights principles.
  2. Facilitate a discussion on human rights-based approaches to economic recovery by promoting legislation that puts the people at the center of investments/development.
  3. Influence legal review or reform in member states where legislation falls short of upholding rights of those affected by actions of corporations.

The complementary role of the Pan African Parliament in facilitating the ratification and implementation of the Maputo Protocol by Member States 

CSO actors have significantly underexplored the Pan African Parliament, as a site for influencing the ratification, domestication, implementation, and reporting on the Maputo Protocol. The lack of CSO engagement with the PAP may be partly attributed to the lack of awareness of the mandate of the PAP in advancing the rights of women on the Continent. The Constitutive Act of the PAP provides for an explicit human rights mandate. Article 3(2) of the PAP Protocol provides that one of the objectives of PAP is to “promote the principles of human rights and democracy in Africa”. Article 11 of the PAP Protocol further provides that “matters pertaining to respect of human rights” are one of the issues that the PAP should examine and discuss as part of its core functions and powers. 

On the specific issues relating to women’s rights and gender equality, the PAP works through its Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and Peoples with Disabilities, the Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the PAP Women’s Caucus. These organs are respectively responsible for considering issues relating to the promotion of gender equality, overseeing the development of policies and activities of the AU relating to family, youth and people with disabilities and playing and oversight role on issues relating to women’s rights and gender issues. 

Due to the broad nature of its powers and functions relating to the promotion of human rights, the PAP is uniquely positioned to provide a platform to mobilize citizen participation in the affairs of the African Union and promote the ratification, domestication, implementation and reporting on the Maputo Protocol.

Methodology and Working Languages

The Civil Society Forum will be conducted through interactive plenary sessions, in which civil society will make technical presentations on various topics. Participants will have an opportunity to engage with the various topics and formulate observations, comments, and recommendations. The working language will be English.


Contacts

For more information, please contact:

Ms Tariro Sekeramayi
Programme Intern, Democracy and Civic Engagement Unit,
Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria
tariro.sekeramayi@up.ac.za
www.chr.up.ac.za

 

Background and context
 
The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) was established by the Abuja Treaty as one of the organs of the African Union (AU) and currently has its seat in Midrand, South Africa. The 18th of March 2021 marked the commemoration of the Pan-African Parliament’s (PAP) 17th year anniversary. At the time of its establishment, the PAP was earmarked as an organ of the AU that will provide a platform for increased public participation and for the Africans to participate in decision-making processes that affect the Continent. The Parliament consists of representatives nominated by local legislatures and currently represents all of AU member states, with the exception of Eritrea. The PAP aims to foster development and economic integration on the Continent. The core of the PAP’s mandate is to promote citizen engagement and representation as democratic ideals.
 
The PAP and Civil Society Engagement
 
In 2014, the AU adopted the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union relating to the Pan-African Parliament (Malabo Protocol). The Malabo Protocol was adopted to amend the current Protocol relating to the PAP and is expected to enable the Parliament to extend its functions and allow members of the Parliament to be elected through adult suffrage. Key features of the Protocol have been celebrated as being vital towards strengthening accountability and representation through institutional reforms. These reforms will increase citizen participation and representation and allow for increased access to the PAP.  The ratification of the Malabo Protocol will be essential to improving the Parliament’s effectiveness. However, ratification of this Protocol is happening at a slow rate.
 
The Preamble to the PAP Protocol sets out the vision that the PAP would be a ‘common platform for African peoples and their grassroots organisations to be more involved in discussions and decision-making’. The PAP has progressively worked towards this goal by cultivating channels for involvement of and dialogue with Civil Society Organisations. This is seen in strategic partnerships such as the establishment of the PAP Civil Society (CSO) Forum which allows for civil society to get better acquainted with the PAP, and to explore avenues for greater involvement and collaboration. The CHR has also developed a toolkit that aids in capacity building of CSOs as well as furthering avenues of participation and familiarisation with the PAP that provides guidelines on CSO Advocacy in the PAP. 
 
I. Special Thematic Issues
 
The thematic issues that are to be discussed during the forum centre around increased accountability and transparency particularly in areas of governance and business ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights in these areas. 
 
i. Parliamentary Monitoring and Openness
 
This session will focus on how PAP can adopt Open Parliament principles (transparency, accountability, participation, and inclusion) in its work and practices in the quest to achieve its core mandate. It will further look at how Parliamentary Monitoring Organisations (PMOs) can sustain increased collaborative dialogue with the continental parliament and its member parliaments, and to foster enabling environments for PMOs to monitor the work of national and regional parliaments.
 
As a representative body of African citizens, the PAP, and with the various national parliaments which perform legislative function and oversight of the executive, are fundamental for the realization of democratic good governance and the consequent developmental dividend for citizens. By virtue of its core functions, a legislative institution must be transparent and accountable to the citizenry it serves and represents. Hence, it is critical that the performances of parliament itself and its Members are also subjected to assessment by citizen-based groups.
 
It is in this respect that PMOs are important players in democratic governance, often seeking to facilitate and promote public knowledge of, and participation in parliamentary processes, as their work shows promise in strengthening a number of components of democratic governance, including the accountability of parliaments to the electorate; citizen engagement in the legislative process; access to information about parliaments and their work; and the capacity to encourage parliamentary reform and serve as mechanisms to strengthen legislatures in meeting citizens’ demands.
 
The role of the media in this task of parliamentary monitoring at the PAP and national parliament levels, can also not be over emphasised. Recently, the African Parliamentary Press Network (APPN) has been initiated as a joint effort between civil society and the PAP to ensure that journalists are empowered to track the work of the PAP and its Members even at the national level, in order to promote the mandate of PAP and to give visibility to the need to ratify the Malabo Protocol.
Discussants will explore how the ‘Declaration on Parliamentary Openness’ – a global call to national and transnational legislative bodies by PMOs for an increased commitment to openness and to citizens engagement in parliamentary work – can be operationalised at the PAP level; and explore opportunities of how the continental organ can recommend benchmarks on parliamentary openness for use by its member parliaments.
 
ii. Business and Human Rights
 
a) Adoption of an internationally binding instrument on transnational corporations
& other business enterprises
 
This presentation will focus on the process of adopting an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises.
 
In June 2014 at its 26th session, Ecuador and South Africa presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva a resolution they had drafted proposing an international legally binding instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with respect to human rights. An open-ended intergovernmental working group with the mandate to elaborate an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights was subsequently established, chaired by Ecuador. The first session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group (IGWG) took place from 6 to 10 July 2015 in Geneva. Subsequent sessions followed in October 2016, October 2017 and October 2018. Despite this progress, African states including their civil society, private sector and most importantly governments have not taken an effective role in this process. While a number of developments have been realized including the development of the Elements for the draft legally binding instrument were issued by the Chair in September 2017, and a Zero Draft was presented in July 2018, many African states have not been seen to be effectively engaging. Given the importance of this process in streamlining the legal and policy at the global level and its subsequent role in shaping the human rights protection and accountability landscape in Africa it is essential for CSOs and governments alike to participate and engage effectively towards finalising the drafting of this instrument.
 
b) Extractives Industries Fiscal Regimes in Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda report
launch
 
Recent discoveries of vast quantities of oil and natural gas resources in Eastern Sub-Saharan Africa i.e. Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda, have raised hopes and improved the region’s prospects of emerging as a new petroleum frontier. However, this possibility is subject to numerous other considerations such as, the ability of each of these countries to obtain a fair share, prudent management of resource revenues, management of the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the inevitable energy transition, among others. 
 
Given this importance, Publish What You Pay commissioned studies to evaluate the effectiveness of the extractive industries fiscal regimes in three Eastern Sub-Saharan countries. The Mozambique country study focused on the Golfinho/Atum project within the Rovuma basin, while Tanzania and Uganda studies were focused on mining and petroleum projects, respectively. The objective of these country studies was to generate the information necessary for reform of extractive industries fiscal frameworks, and to steer collective advocacy for countries to obtain a fair share of revenue from their resources at the regional and global level. This report is important in highlighting the role of CSOs in promoting accountability and transparency and the potential contribution that increased transparency and respect for human rights in business has for development on the continent.
 
II. Aim and Objectives 
 
The aim of the Civil Society Forum is to foster closer collaboration between and among CSOs on PAP related issues on the one hand, and between CSOs and the PAP on the other, with a view to advancing and promoting the mandate of the continental Parliament. To that end, the meeting will seek to achieve the following objectives:
 
1. To sensitize civil society organizations on the workings of the PAP, including on the key themes of the PAP Session and potential avenues to engage with the PAP;
2. To raise awareness about the importance of transparency and accountability in the operations of Parliaments on the Continent;
3. To assist PAP committees with development of model laws and human rights guidelines around business and human rights;
4. To enable sharing of best practices on effective civil society engagement with the PAP;
5. To identify gaps and challenges relating to civil society engagement with the PAP and devise effective strategies for addressing them;
6. To work towards establishing collective campaign towards the ratification of the Malabo Protocol;
7. To adopt a common approach for sustained civil society engagement with the PAP and deepen reflections on the establishment of a PAP Civil Society Forum. 
 
VI. Expected Participants
 
The Civil Society Forum will bring together about 75 participants from the following groups:
 
Representatives of African civil society organisations, including university students and members of academia;
A select number of PAP Members;
Members of the PAP Secretariat;
Local and International Media.
 
VII. Methodology and working languages
 
The Civil Society Forum will be conducted through interactive plenary sessions, in which resource persons from the PAP and civil society will make technical presentations on various topics. Participants will have an opportunity to engage with the various topics and formulate observations, comments and recommendations. The working language will be English.