Press Release: Launch of the African Human Security Initiative
The transformation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU) and the adoption of the New Partnership for Africa`s Development (NEPAD) have raised expectations of renewed commitment by African Heads of State to better governance and enhanced human security for the continent. Most of these commitments, to human rights, democracy, peace and security, have been chronicled before in the protocols, declarations and decisions of the OAU from 1963-2002.
One of the most significant differences between the OAU commitments and those of the AU and NEPAD, is that the new initiatives make provision for monitoring mechanisms and review of implementation of these decisions. There is also specific provision for greater popular participation and recognition of the need for civil society engagement in the policy-making and implementation of AU programmes, including NEPAD. Civil society organisations need to meet their governments half way, accepting the offer of greater engagement in public policy-making and pushing the boundaries of this opportunity.
Countries that accede to the NEPAD African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) voluntarily commit to specific benchmarks and standards contained in a memorandum of understanding. AU institutions such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples` Rights, the Pan-African Parliament and ECOSOCC have been tasked with the political governance component of peer review. Rather than wait for the necessarily lengthy process to capacitate and/or establish these AU institutions, relying on governments to monitor or learn from one another, this project consists of a core network of 7 established African NGOs to embark upon a process of benchmarking the performance of key African governments in respect of human security issues, measured against the commitments taken at the level at OAU/AU heads of state meetings. The network will review commitments in the areas of democracy and governance, human rights, corruption, civil society engagement, conflict resolution and peacekeeping, arms management, terrorism and organised crime.
It is a one year pilot project that will begin by reviewing eight of the countries that have already acceded to the APRM, namely Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. The initial partners are: African Security Dialogue and Research (ASDR), African Peace Forum (APF), Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa, Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Southern Africa Human Rights Trust (SAHRIT), Southern Africa Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA), and the West African Network for Peace (WANEP).
The project is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). For more information visit our website: www.africanreview.org