The African Governance Architecture

AUC/ UNECA The Decision of the 15th Ordinary Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (Assembly/AU/Dec.304 (XV)) was to dedicate the theme of the 16th Ordinary AU Assembly to Shared Values of the African Union, and also mandated the African Union Commission (AUC) to put in place a Pan-African Architecture on Governance. It is anticipated that the Architecture would provide the process and mechanism of enhancing policy dialogue, convergence, coherence, and harmonization amongst AU Organs, institutions and Member States as a way of speeding up the integration process on the continent.

Given this mandate, the Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission initiated the process of articulating and developing the African Governance Archi- tecture (AGA). The rationale for the AGA is that while there are several governance instruments, frameworks, and institutions at the regional, sub- regional and national levels, there is little or no effective synergy, coordination and harmonization amongst them. These institutions work mostly in silos, and do not benefit adequately from each other even at the level of sharing information and coordinating their activities for effective performance. The AGA is therefore meant to fill this important gap in the governance mechanism of the continent. The idea of the AGA is not about creating new institutions, but establishing ways and means of strengthening the existing ones and ensuring their effective coordination and optimum performance.

Definition and Structure of AGA

The AGA is the overall political and institutional framework for the promotion of democracy, governance and human rights in Africa. The AGA is an evolving mechanism composed of three principal pillars: It constitutes of a vision/agenda; Organs and Institutions; mechanism/processes of interactions amongst AU organs/ institutions with a formal mandate in governance, democracy and human rights.

Pillar One: Norms/Vision

The AGA projects the governance vision for the continent. This governance vision is embodied in the governance norms, standards, principles and practices both at the regional and continental levels which Member States of the AU have collectively and individually committed themselves to. These principles, practices and standards permeate the various policy pronouncements of the AU. Some of these policy pronouncements include, amongst others:

• Constitutive Act of the African Union;

• African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance;

• The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

• Algiers Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government;

• Lomé Declaration for an OAU Response to Unconstitutional Changes of Government;

• The OAU/AU Declaration on Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa;

• Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union;

• African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption;

• African Union Post Conflict and Reconstruction Policy Framework;

• African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa;

• Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa;

• African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

The main vision encapsulated in all these instruments is to create a democratic, well governed, stable, and prosperous continent, where Member States and the peoples of the Continent will respect the values of human rights and the rule of law, democratic norms, culture and practices, free, fair and credible elections and absolute rejection of unconstitutional or illegal transfer or seizure of power.

Pillar Two: Institutional Framework

The AGA could be conceived as a well-ordered and neatly assembled structure, institution and mechanism to give operational expression to the Africa Governance vision. AU institutions, organs and initiatives with a formal mandate in democracy, governance and human rights strive to consolidate democratic governance in Africa by enabling and facilitating the internalization of AU instruments on governance in Member States of the AU; ensure overall coherence and convergence of the governance pro- grammes at the regional and continental levels. The following are the main institutions that comprise the AGA:

• AU Commission;

• African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

• African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

• Pan-African Parliament;

• African Peer Review Mechanism;

• The Economic, Social and Cultural Council;

• The AU Advisory Board on Corruption

• NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency)

• Regional Economic Communities.

Pillar Three: Interaction Mechanism and Processes

An African Governance Platform is the major institutional mechanism for the expression of the AGA. During the consultations, it was agreed that establishing the Platform is imperative in strengthening the AGA by enhancing coordination, harmonization and implementation. To consolidate and enhance implementation of the governance agenda, AU organs and institutions with a formal mandate in governance agreed to establish a governance platform. The role of the Platform is to facilitate information flow, exchanges, dialogue, synergies and joint action amongst the various AU governance institutions and actors, and monitor compliance and implementation of the major governance instruments and commitments. The Platform is not to duplicate the mandate or work of existing organs/institutions and initiatives; and would not act as a decision-making body. The Platform is simply a platform for coordination, harmonization and coherence on governance in Africa.


Rather than a panacea to the governance challenges facing the continent, the AGA should been seen as providing an opportunity to engage and develop appropriate capacity and responses to Africa’s governance challenges. A coordinated and integrated approach is no substitute for the primary responsibility of AU Member States in democracy, governance and human rights. The AGA is premised on complementing the primary responsibility of States and existing institutions of the AU on governance

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