Author: Masalu Masanja
LLM (HRDA) student, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) is among the nine organs of the African Union (AU) established with the aim of ensuring the full participation of African people in the development and economic integration of Africa. This purpose is anchored under Article 17 of the of the AU Constitutive Act. One of the objectives of PAP is the promotion of peace and security on the continent. In terms of its mandate, PAP is limited to consultative and advisory power within the AU. Its full-fledged legislative power is provided for under the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union on the Establishment of the Pan-African Parliament (Malabo Protocol), which is yet to come into force. This opinion piece seeks to examine critically the resolution on peace and security with a specific focus on the Continental Early Warning Mechanism (CEWM).
War and violence in Africa are among the stumbling blocks to economic development and integration in Africa. Consequently, the PAP passed a resolution on the promotion of peace and security in Africa at its Second Session of the Fourth Parliament held from 5 to 17 October 2015. This opinion piece specifically focuses on PAP’s recommendation on the need of reinforcing CEWM in conflict prevention in Africa and the establishment of an African centre for conflict and arbitration focusing on providing training and capacity building on alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in the five sub-regions of Africa, under the oversight of African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
PAP’s resolution emphasised the reinforcement of the CEWM in ensuring peace and security in Africa. CEWM is a creature of the Protocol on the Peace and Security Council and was established under Article 12 of the Protocol. it is one of the pillars of the African Peace and Security Architecture, as part of the conflict prevention mechanism in Africa. CEWM is aimed at giving the AU a proactive system of conflict prevention as opposed to the traditional reaction system. For this reason, ‘early warning is perceived as “an effective tool to action” and encompasses the collection of information, analysis of information, formulation of best/worst scenarios and response options and communication to decision-makers.’
It is from this background that the PAP urged the AU to reinforce the CEWM in order to prevent conflict in Africa. The resolution captured the potential of CEWM in avoiding conflict. Nevertheless, despite CEWM, Africa still experiences deadly political violence which cost the lives of so many innocent people. This call into question the efficacy of CEWM in preventing conflict before it erupts.
Even though the PAP resolution concluded that the AU needed to reinforce its CEWM, the story is not all gloomy. According to Noyes and Yarwood, CEWM made progress in terms of ability to monitor, analyse, and provide warning of emerging conflict in Africa. In this regard, CEWM involves advance data collection, on which the AU has made significant advancement. This data collection mechanism puts Africa ahead of other regional bodies because AU has comprehensive data collection managed by situation Room in AU.
Nonetheless, the inefficiency of CEWM in Africa comes from the lack of expertise in terms of analysis of the information collected. In this area, the CEWM is facing difficulty because of the lack of highly skilled and trained personnel. Similarly, as the resolution clearly articulated, the AU is not proactive in giving a response. This is because after the analysis of data collected is worked on, the Peace and Security Council (PSC) does not receive early warning for it to make decision. At this point, there is very poor communication between CEWM and PSC. This means the PSC does not usually get the necessary information for it to act. Even if the PSC has the information, the PSC does not usually work as quickly with the information furnished and the AU is supposed to be pro-active in acting accordingly and to notify member states of warning signs.
The resolution also champions establishment of an African centre for conflict and arbitration focusing on providing, training and capacity building on Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms in the five sub-regions of Africa under the oversight of African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The proposal for establishing an African centre for conflict and arbitration is good idea. It would be better if Africa would have such a centre, but the proposal that the African Court should have oversight is questionable and problematic for three reasons. Firstly, this will have repercussion on accountability of African States on issue of human rights abuse because the court will be overloaded with another mandate in case more member states make declaration pursuant to article 34(6). Secondly, the proposal poses a challenge on personnel and expertise. Currently, the court is made up of judges who are experts on human right. Thus, if the proposal is to be implemented, it will require the recruitment of experts in the field of conflict management. This obviously, has financial implications on the part of the African Court. Lastly, extension of the mandate of the African Court to the oversight of the African centre for conflict and arbitration will also have financial implications. The Amnesty International Report on the Malabo Protocol highlights that the African Court several times raised the issue of resources allocated to it by the African Union. Therefore, the extension of the mandate will seriously hamper the court in discharging its full mandate if not accompanied by commensurate financial resources.
Conclusively, if the AU takes the CEWM seriously as a means of preventing conflict in Africa (as PAP’s resolution suggests), Africa will be able to promote peace and security and ensure the economic development and integration across the continent. This is because peace and security are inextricably linked with economic development. In ensuring a prosperous and developed Africa, the AU must reinforce its CEWM. Also, the establishment of an African centre for conflict and arbitration need not be under the auspices of the African Court, as doing so will have a negative impact on the accountability and enforcement of human rights as stipulated in the African Charter.
About the Author
Masalu Masanja is currently completing an LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. He is attached to the Democracy and Civic Engagement Unit of the Centre.
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