Governance Cluster of the Regional Coordination Mechanism of United Nations Agencies and African Partner Organisations Annual Retreat

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Crowne Plaza Hotel, Rosebank, Johannesburg, South Africa
14-15 September 2010

In observation of the International Day of Democracy, the Governance Cluster of the Regional Coordination Mechanism of United Nations Agencies and Partner Organisations held its annual retreat in Crowne Plaza Hotel, Rosebank in Johannesburg South Africa on 14-15 September 2010. The cluster celebrates this important international day in recognition of both the intrinsic and instrumental value of democracy for the lives of African people. The meeting brought together various UN agencies which have specific programmes that support the African Union Commission (AUC), the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). In attendance were the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Office of the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The Governance cluster is coordinated by UNDP and co-chaired by UNDP, AUC and NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA). It is one of the nine (9) clusters within the Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM) which is coordinated at the continental level by the UNECA. The Governance Cluster’s main mandate is to coordinate the UN system-wide support to governance initiatives and programmes of the AUC, NPCA and RECs. Both the AUC and NPCA were represented at the annual retreat in their capacity as co-chairs. In total 4 RECs, namely ECOWAS, EAC, COMESA and CENSAD were represented at the retreat. The SADC Tribunal and African Development Bank (AfDB) were also represented.

The meeting was a vivid demonstration of the commitment of UN agencies and their partner organisations involved in governance programmes to effectively support regional integration and development in Africa under the leadership of the AUC and a chance to enhance engagement and harmonization with the various RECs

Democratic governance is a critical pre-condition for regional integration, development, and sustainable peace and security in Africa. African leaders themselves recognise this reality. This realisation is expressed explicitly in the 2002 NEPAD Declaration on Political, Economic and Corporate Governance, the 2003 African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, 2007.

The intrinsic value of democracy is that it opens avenues for people to express their freedoms. The instrumental value of democracy is that it ought to facilitate the achievement of basic needs such as food, clothing, health, education, shelter and environmental protection. The achievement of sustainable human development and the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and eradication of poverty all require an enabling democratic environment to prevail in all countries of the world and Africa is no exception to this reality. This is why in his message on the International Day of Democracy, the UN Secretary-General emphasises that ‘transparency, accountability and responsive governance are essential if our work for development is to succeed... Development is far more likely to take hold if people are given a genuine say in their own governance, and a chance to share in the fruits of progress’.

The members of the Governance Cluster engaged in extensive and rich deliberations over two days on how best to coordinate UN agencies’ support to the governance programmes/agendas of the AUC, NPCA and RECs. In the process, cluster members reached consensus on the following:

  1. UN agencies’ support to the AUC, NPCA and RECs should be premised on the strategic orientation and priorities of these institutions as articulated in their strategic plans and other relevant documents. Furthermore, the UN Agencies should, in a harmonised and coordinated way, upscale their support to the RECs.
  2. There is dire need for improvement of the horizontal interaction/linkages among the Regional Economic Communities (REC) for purposes of joint planning, programming, and sharing of information and experience, as well as lessons-learning in their efforts to advance democratic governance as part of the regional integration agenda in Africa.
  3. The AU member states should be encouraged to make efforts to sign, ratify, domesticate and apply existing charters, treaties, protocols, conventions and declarations on governance, democracy and human rights that have been adopted since the inception of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
  4. The Governance Cluster urged AU member states accelerate the ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, 2007. To date, about 38 AU member states have signed this historic democracy charter. Of these only 7 seven (namely Mauritania, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Lesotho and Ghana) have already ratified the Charter. This charter requires 15 ratifications before it comes into effect. Thus, we are still 8 ratifications shy of the requisite number for the ratification of the charter.
  5. The Governance Cluster implored to AU member states that have already signed and ratified the Charter to set in motion steps for its domestication and application. There is need for a comprehensive mechanism to monitor and evaluate implementation of existing African Charters, Protocols and Treaties relating to governance.
  6. While discernible progress is underway in respect of the implementation of the APRM, more AU member states are yet to accede to this innovative African-driven, -led and -owned governance assessment instrument. Furthermore, those countries that have undergone the review still need to upscale and set-up implementation of the National Programmes of Action (NPoA). Todate, 30 member states of the AU have acceded to the APRM. Of these, 13 have already undergone the peer review. The Governance Cluster urged African countries that have undergone the peer review to make every effort to implement fully the National Programmes of Action (NPOAs).
  7. For NPCA and RECs to be effective as implementation pillars of the African Union it is imperative that the African Union Commission engages them much more in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of its evolving African Governance Architecture, the on-going preparations for the Shared Values Summit of 2011 and the on-going process of popularisation of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

 

Adopted by the Governance Cluster Members at Rosebank Crowne Plaza Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa on Wednesday 15 September 2010

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