The African Union’s 21st Summit from 26 to 27 May 2013 was an historic occasion not only because it coincided with the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the OAU/AU but in other respects as well. A number of significant decisions were adopted which indicate that the AU is determined that Africa should assume full control over its destiny. A notable decision was the adoption in principle of the report of the High Level Panel on Alternative Sources of Financing the African Union in order to free what AU Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma called ‘unsustainable’ dependence of the AU on donor funding. In another significant move, the summit also decided to establish an emergency force – the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis (ACIRC) – pending the full operationalization of the African Standby Force and its Rapid Deployment Capability.
This seminar aimed to better understand the decisions taken and reflect on the possibilities and challenges for implementing those decisions. Chaired by Ambassador Olusegun Akinsanya, Office Director at ISS Addis Ababa, the four speakers included Ambassador Konjit Sinegorgis, Chair of the PRC and Ethiopia's Permanent Representative to the AU and UNECA, Ambassador Lazarous Kampambwe, Special Advisor to the Chairperson of AU Commission, Dr Solomon Ayele Dersso, Senior Researcher at ISS Addis Ababa, and Desirée Assogbavi, Head of Oxfam International Liaison Office to the AU. Members of the diplomatic community, civil society and academia attended the seminar.
A comprehensive summary of the main decisions adopted during the meetings held by the different AU policy organs was provided. The major issues that attracted heated debate were the Obasanjo Panel Report, the situation of Western Sahara, the report of the Committee of Ten on UN Reform and elections of members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Committee on the Rights of the Child. Issues of efficiency, coordination and duplication were highlighted. A main challenge is a considerable number of decisions were adopted but the implementation and follow up mechanisms are lacking.
Ambassador Kampambwe analysed three major issues: the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Report on Alternative Sources of Funding the AU, and Vision 2063. The summit adopted 16 decisions, two declarations, one Solemn Declaration and one resolution covering a wide range of subjects. Of these 20 documents, 11 related to economic and social development issues, highlighting the shift in emphasis from political and peace and security matters to the development agenda.
The other speakers looked at peace and security matters and civil society participation at the summit. Issues highlighted include the establishment of the ACIRC, concerns surrounding the timeline and steps for operationalizing the ACIRC, the closure of the summit for civil society and the decision on International Criminal Court (ICC).
ISS Addis Ababa