Author: Eva Abugabe
MPhil candidate, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
The PAP in its sixth session of the First Parliament in 2006 resolved to ending migration in Africa. Based on PAP-Rec(08(VI)06), the PAP acknowledged migration as a regional priority due to increasing refugee crisis, migrant remittances, movement of labour, the African Diaspora and brain drain, feminisation of migration, xenophobia and human trafficking. In PAP-Res (06(VI)06), the PAP furthermore demanded continuous agenda setting in its debate, regional and national collaborations in learning best practices including encouraging governments to address the challenges by observing good governance and promoting investment in economies, infrastructure and creating employment.
The article critically analyses the PAP’s resolutions and recommendations against regional and international human rights instruments. It aims to position the PAP as an active protector of human rights while making it more visible to Africans, its primary constituents. Its thrust is to also evoke deliberate interventions and broadly contribute to the actualisation of the Africa We Want Agenda, Agenda 2063 and to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development specifically target 10.7 of Goal 10.
Africa’s migration challenges
Article 1 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights enjoins state parties to adopt legislative and other measures to protect people’s rights and freedoms. The Charter recognises freedom of movement however, as the PAP acknowledged, migration has significant consequences for Africa’s development. Africa is widely projected as a ‘continent on the move’ and bedeviled with millions of Africans migrating to other continents especially Europe through unapproved avenues. Multiple reports underscore African youth, men, and women sometimes with their children, embarking on dangerous journeys, including through the Mediterranean Sea in search of greener pastures in the global north. 
Against this backdrop, the United Nations has since 2010, continuously pronounced Sub-Saharan African countries as accounting for 8 of the 10 fastest emerging international migrant populations. African migrants allegedly threaten the peace and security, developmental plans among others, of most governments and citizens especially of industrialised northern countries, owing to concomitant effects of unlawful entries, prolonged stay, establishment of shambolic relations (marriage) and overburdening social systems (asylums).
Sadly, many African countries have limited empirical data of migrants, much less, intersectional demographic distributions. The 2019 international migration assessment of the United Nations projected that, since the sequences of African population censuses in the 2000, 14% of Sub-Saharan African countries do not have updated data on international migration, 24% do not publish information on recent data and above 33% are in need of revised data on age distribution data. Nonetheless, more African men than women, and youth than older persons migrate. Africa has witnessed 6 million international migrants of the world migrants stock, an equivalent of 0.4 million growth per year between 2000 and 2015. Out of the 244 million international migrants worldwide in 2015, Africa was host to an estimated 21 million migrants while to 34 million Africans were international migrants. African migrants contribute significantly to the populations of Asia, Europe, and North America. These numbers invariably have serious impact on African countries’ population demographics especially maximising the potentials of African women and youth through engagements and skills development which are essential for their participation and ignite their interest in all spaces of life and Africa’s growth at large.
Many Africans migrate for different reasons. Africa’s escalating migration rates are partly caused by poor governance, electoral violence, lack of employment opportunities, shelter and upsurges of conflicts, terrorism, corruption and political instability. Unsurprisingly, in August 2018, leaders of European nations, including French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel engaged with selected African leaders on developmental concerns of foreign direct investment and migration.
The role of PAP in tackling Africa’s migration challenges
The PAP, though interested in resolving the migration problem, missed some opportunities, including the opportunity to demand that States take sustainable steps to curtail migration. It instead made generic statements rather than taking targeted steps to ensure that the migration challenge is tackled by African states. The AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (the Kampala Convention) has only been ratified by 31 member states. Regrettably, there is no specific and comprehensive African migration treaty, however, effective implementation of the Kampala Convention can contribute to ameliorating forced migration flows. As a result of IDPs sometimes migrating when they do not receive the needed support (forced migration),’  increasing ratification of the Kampala Convention is important. It ensures that IDPs are not forgotten through the state obligations to protect and respond to the issues of IDPs towards preventing them from crossing internationally recognised state borders. It also serves as a framework that calls for critical and dynamic sustainable solutions among multiple stakeholders including recognising the role of international actors in ending Africa’s internal displacement menaces.
Similarly, only 26 AU member states have also acceded to the International Convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families with 11 signatories pending ratification in the future. African states seemingly reluctance to ratify the Convention, implies a lack of commitment to addressing migrant issues including implementing non-arbitrary and non-discriminatory legislative and policy interventions such as on expulsion and deportation of non-citizens as recommended by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Consequently, many African migrants are not receiving adequate protection under international law.
Another golden opportunity missed was a call to adopt respective National Migration Policy Frameworks that will be consolidated at regional levels towards harmonised coordination and development agenda. To date, the 2018 AU Migration Policy Framework aimed at effectively guiding member states in migration management is less realised even after 4 years of its adoption. So far, only a few African countries are formulating policies on international migration. For example, South Africa had a shared proportion of international migrants of about 3% in 2015 and which rose to 7% in 2019 of its national population. South Africa has adopted a green paper on international migration under consideration even though it is largely focused on the migration of other African nationals to South Africa. Members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) only recently engaged the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on migration and its impact within the sub-region. There is no supporting evidence of other sub-regional consultation mechanisms on migration with IOM.
There is a crucial need for a migration instrument and consolidating democracy through the full implementation of the African Charter on Democracy and Governance. Cross-border cooperation through the ratification and implementation of the AU Convention on Cross-Border Cooperation (Niamey Convention) is a leveraging necessity to closing porous borders and building concerted efforts towards effectively dealing with migration. The PAP should capitalise on its strength for extensive engagement and lobbying of the various regional and national parliaments in ratifying these treaties and other related ones. Importantly, the PAP has an important role to play ensuring that ratified treaties are domesticated in national laws and policies. The longevity of such treaty ratifications and simultaneously engineering the envisioned needed impact of the treaties is also dependent on at least two imminent game-changing effects; the swift ratification of the Malabo Protocol as a transmogrification of PAP into a fortified fully-fledged legislative body under the AU governance architecture for its effectiveness (enforcement and/or follow up from AU and other related policy organs on its recommendations) and; prioritising the restoration of the PAP’s credibility amidst its niggling leadership controversies.’  Furthermore, there is the need to create an up-to-date computerised database and analytical system with intersectional demographic characteristics of migrants and returnees within and outside Africa towards understanding migration trends, and formulation of substantive inclusive policies.
It is also trite for the PAP to establish migration focal points with detailed terms of reference and adequate funding for results-based monitoring and evaluation of states interventions. Also, strategically establishing broad-based stakeholder consultations and collaborations with civil society groupings and other human right actors in Africa. These stakeholders among others help to provide (re)integration services such as information on rights; legal and social counselling; sensitisation, behavioural change and advocacy; including job searching, skills training and reintegration of migrants into their communities. Therefore, they are important for; recognising the needs assessments of refugees and migrants; providing expertise and best practices for effective integration and management of migration policies; establishing a structured contact with refugees and migrants; filling urgent gaps that may not be covered such as research, humanitarian services and early recovery; and ensuring local ownership and sustainability of migration interventions.
Conclusion and recommendations
The foregoing represents the author’s logic that the PAP clearly has a great potential to substantially protect Africans human rights although, for almost two decades since its establishment, this is evidently missing. Notwithstanding, the quality of the PAP’s resolutions and recommendations thus far, indicates its awareness of its potential and appreciation of the issues it should be tackling. What is lacking is the implementation of these decisions particularly by its office bearers. Of specific mention, the permanent committees and secretariat should rely on human rights treaties to stress African states obligations and integrated collaborations.
In anticipation of Africa’s population growth shadowing world growth by 2 billion by 2050, and to avoid reversing Africa’s developmental gains, it is imperative for PAP to take pragmatic steps to protect African migrants including the most vulnerable. It is recommended that the PAP develop a tracking mechanism for the implementation of its resolutions and recommendations. Its office bearers should especially leverage on diverse communication platforms to consistently make information publicly accessible for advancing knowledge and demanding accountability of the PAP; and to influence the adoption of an African migration law to adequately address migrants’ peculiar challenges.
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 It is developed from a review of the PAP’s documents during her work with the Democracy and Civic Engagement Unit of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria.
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About the Author:
Eva Abugabe is currently an MPhil candidate for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria.
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