- Knowledge base
- Policy question
In his submission titled “The Imperative to strengthen our Union” adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State of the Union, President Kagame identified four main areas that need urgent actions:
4. What are the reform issues on which there is no full consensus among member states?
The proposed new structure of the AU Commission to be considered by the Summit is as follows:
The proposed change mainly include the following: merging of Political Affairs and the Peace and Security Departments; merging of Economic Affairs and the Trade & Industry Departments; women/Gender Directorate previously under the Chairperson’s cabinet moves to Health and Social Development (previously Social Affairs Department); youth Division previously under Human Resource, Science and Technology Department moves to Health and Social Development; human Resource, Science and Technology Department is renamed as Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.
It is also being proposed to create a non-elected post of Director-General to lead the operational coordination of the Commission’s departments and non-elected staff. The current post of Secretary-General may be renamed Secretary to the Commission.
The Summit will consider a new mode and procedure of designation of the leadership of the AU Commission but it is not expected that the Chairperson will be granted the right to select his/her deputy and the commissioners or even to be part of the process as some actors have proposed. Gender parity will be maintained within the leadership team and even reinforced at the top level. This means for example that if the Chairperson is a male the deputy should be a female or vice versa.
There is a strong push to enhance performance management at the senior leadership of the Commission. The Summit may order a goal and target setting mechanism and an annual submission of performance report by the Chairperson of the Commission.
The new selection policy will come into effect at the end of the current tenure of the Commission in January 2021.
Deliberations may also include the establishment of a clear division of labor and effective collaboration among the AU, the RECs, the Regional Mechanisms (RMs) and the harmonization of policies across the board. The AU Commission together with the RECs and relevant organs would have to develop a proposal on an effective division of labor to be submitted to the first Mid-Year Coordination Meeting in June/July 2019. There needs to be added emphasis on the division of labor in matters of peace in security, currently governed by the principles of subsidiarity and comparative advantage which remain wanting regarding clarity. Redundancy and overlap in mandates and work should be abandoned in favor of efficiency and cooperation.
There is an ongoing interesting discussion on improving the African peer review mechanism (a voluntary mechanism), which is a positive development, but for our Union to be able to make a real difference in the life of African people, it is imperative to think about a robust accountability mechanism for the implementation of agreed policies, standards and values at national level. The African Union Commission, other organs of the Union and ordinary citizens & their formations should be deliberately empowered and enabled to hold accountable our leaders for the realizations of their promises.
We need a courageous debate on sanction, not only sanctions for non-payment of Member States accessed contribution but also sanctions for non-implementation of agreed policies and the values on which the Constitutive Act of the Union is built as well as the seven aspirations of our Agenda 2063, the Africa we want.
A critical enabler of Agenda 2063’s vision is citizens’ rights to organise and their ability to stand against human rights abuses, poverty, inequality, injustice, corruption etc. The reform of the African Union should make a concrete way for independent African Civil Society formations to be able to contribute meaningfully in the affairs of the Union including an efficient mechanism for access to information. It is a common knowledge that the current settings are not meeting the expected results.
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This is a republished blog that was originally posted here.
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