Grappling with Governance: Perspectives on the African Peer Review Mechanism .Faten Aggad, ECDPM Contribution to SAIIA Publication, January 2011
Born out of the optimism at the new millennium that Africa’s time had come, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a tool designed to promote good governance on the continent, is built on the belief that the continent does not lack ideas to advance its development, but that states have struggled to live up to their principles and implement their policies. The APRM rests on the fundamental belief that good governance is a precondition for taking Africa out of its spiral of conflict, underdevelopment, poverty and increasing marginalisation in a globalised world.
Looking in the rear-view mirror almost a decade after the APRM was first conceived, Grappling with Governance: Perspectives on the African Peer Review Mechanism explores how this complex process has evolved from theory to practice in a variety of contexts. In a combination of case studies and transversal analysis, multiple voices from different African civil society actors — mainly analysts, activists and journalists — examine the process from their specialised perspective. The chapters tease out what can be learned about governance in Africa from these experiences, and the extent to which the APRM has changed the way that governments and civil society groups engage.
This book demonstrates that undergoing review through the APRM — literally, grappling with governance — can be messy, haphazard and full of reversals. Like any tool, the APRM’s effectiveness depends on the suitability of its design for the task at hand, the situation in which it is used, and the skill of its user. The different authors reflect on these characteristics as users of this tool. While it is ill-advised to draw universal conclusions, this book nevertheless demonstrates that the APRM has added value, sometimes in unexpected ways.