The Democracy and Transparency Unit of the Centre hosted an East African Civil Society round-table forum in Kigali, Rwanda at the sidelines of a session of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP). The forum participants included academics, law students from Rwanda University and Kigali University, a representative from Rwanda Ministry of Justice and members of various civil society organisations in Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.
The forum focused on the theme “Civil society experiences on working with the African Union (AU) legal organs: African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, AU Advisory Board on Corruption, PAP and Peace and Security Council. The participation of civil society organizations with the AU is in line with the continent’s development roadmap - Agenda 2063, which under aspiration 6 calls for “an Africa whose development is people driven, relying on the potential of African people especially women and youth”. In his opening remarks, the Executive Director of Rwanda Civil Society Platform Mr. John Bosco Nyemazi noted that “civil society organisations are an asset the AU can and should tap into.”
Mr. Idi Gaparayi, Dean at the Faculty of Law at the University of Kigali and alumnus of the Centre, interrogated the role of civil society in the AU institutional architecture. He made reference of the AU Constitutive Act, which provides room for the African citizenry to be part of the process in realising the political and socio-economic goals of the continent. The Constitutive Act of the AU clearly stipulates the participation of African people in the activities of the AU; therefore, civil society organizations have a seat at the table and should occupy it unapologetically.
Ms Martha Munthali, a Senior Policy Officer at the AU Advisory Board on Corruption, remarked that the round-table forum is very critical as we wrap up the African Union Anti-Corruption Year on the theme “Winning the fight against corruption: A sustainable path to Africa’s transformation”. Speaking on behalf of the AU Advisory Board, she lauded the efforts of the Centre in brining actors from civil society to brainstorm on pertinent issues affecting the continent.
Ms Sibongile Ndashe, the Executive Director of Initiative for strategic Litigation noted that the ACHPR independence is threatened by the Executive Council’s decision and the implication it has on human rights protection in Africa. She made a public call that CSOs in Africa should be mobilised in order to raise awareness on the implication of the decision by the Executive Council on the mandate of the ACHPR. The forum took a resolution to collectively work on ways in which CSOs in Africa can be capacitated on the working of the AU institutions to ensure effective engagement.
Ms Bonolo Makgale from Centre concluded the forum by emphasising that the forum is part of a process to identify effective mechanism of engagement of AU organs, particularly the PAP. There are no formal mechanisms of engagement within the PAP structure to effectively engage with civil society organizations. Ms. Makgale made a call to members of civil society to be part of a coalition that aims to engage with the PAP and identify gaps and challenges relating to civil society engagement with AU institutions.
For more information on this round table meeting, please contact:
Ms Bonolo Makgale
Project Coordinator: Democracy, Transparency and Digital Rights Unit
Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 4199
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743