AUC, Sweden and UNDP partner to speed up action on continent’s legal agreements to boost development
The African Union Commission (AUC), Sweden, and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have joined efforts to boost the number of African countries signing up to and adopting into national law continental agreements to help accelerate development.
Since its establishment as the Organisation of African Unity, the African Union has adopted 49 treaties, protocols and conventions. However, as of 2015 only 28 of these treaties have been ratified and enshrined by the 54 Member States.
“The low rate of ratification and implementation of AU treaties is a missed opportunity for the African continent to advance the continental agenda, negatively impacting the effectiveness of the AU’s efforts to foster peace and stabilization and further economic development in Africa,” said Lamin Momodou Manneh, Director of UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa.
The three-year USD 15 million regional initiative “Acceleration and Domestication of African Union Treaties” will focus on increasing AUC technical expertise to assist countries to enhance capacity to speed up ratification and domestication, and foster greater knowledge and awareness amongst African populations to ensure greater levels of demand and advocacy for the effective domestication of all treaties.
The Government of Sweden has contributed USD 7 million towards this programme.
“The challenge of the AU is not the norm setting but the implementation of those norms in different areas – and this is why it is so important to support the acceleration of ratification and domestication of AU legal instruments by Member States,” said H.E. Mr. Torbjörn Pettersson, Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia, and Sweden’s Special Representative to the AU and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Some of the challenges to ratification include a lack of capacity within the AUC to support treaty ratification; lack of harmonized approach amongst regional entities such as Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and East African Community (EAC); and diverse legal systems and mixed level of capacity for domestication at national levels. Low levels of awareness amongst Africa’s civil society of multilateral treaty processes and their benefits also inhibits their ability to advocate for these continental legal frameworks.
In its first phase the AUC-UNDP programme will focus on providing assistance on the ratification and domestication of six key treaties to boost progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), related to human and people’s rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, and youth, as well as on democracy, elections and governance, and preventing and combating corruption.
In this phase efforts will focus on Senegal, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Rwanda.
The initiative is part of the UNDP’s Regional Programme for Africa that seeks to support the AU and RECS to deliver on their mandate, especially cross cutting issues related to structural transformation and building resilience.