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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Civil society participation in the African Union

The preamble of the African Union's constitution states to "build a partnership between governments and all segments of civil society" and aims to make Africans actors and beneficiaries of the continental development. However the vision of the young all-African organisation lags behind its current achievements.

The study, "Towards a people-driven African Union: Current obstacles and new opportunities", published by the African Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), the Open Society Institute Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP) and Oxfam analyzes the current state of civil society involvement in the AU.

Focal points of the study are the AU 2006 summit preparations. It assesses member state actors, the AU Commission and the Economic, Social and Cultural Council regarding their ability to collate, analyse and distribute information for qualified decision making.

The authors conclude that "inadequate institutional capacity and inappropriate policies and procedures have hindered the realisation of the vision".

The report recommends fostering a change of attitude of AU member state government officials, who so far do not consider civil society as relevant contributors to policy development of the African Union. Furthermore the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) of the African Union should become an independent voice of the civil society with a strong legal basis.

Visit the europafrica.org to participate in public consultations on a new EU-Africa joint strategy.

See also the Euforic dossier on Africa.

Story contributed by Martin Behrens.

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