Since 2005, Africa shows a trend towards decreasing quality of democracy and continuing unconstitutional government changes. In this context, it is important that governance continues to be promoted.
Within the African Union (AU), strengthening governance is high on the agenda. On the 15th of February 2012 the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (the Charter) came into force. The adoption of the Charter was followed by the official launch of the African Governance Architecture (AGA) and its African Governance Platform (AGP), in May 2012, designed to increase coordination between the different institutions with a governance mandate and to create greater linkages between the AU instruments on shared values.
The increased emphasis on the importance of governance is not the end of the story. The link between governance and security is also becoming more significant. Illustrative of this, the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the Department of Political Affairs went on a retreat in September to discuss increased cooperation. And AU Peace and Security Commissioner Lamamra emphasised the importance of deepening democracy and improving political and economic governance in a speech he gave in January. Lamamra stated that durable peace, security and stability, as well as effective conflict prevention, needs improved political and economic governance.
The launch of the AGP provides promising opportunities to create these stronger links with the APSA. The remaining question is: how? The AGA brings together a lot of actors and initiatives aimed at governance, but scores low on institutionalisation because the AGP remains an informal platform. The vision and ambition is there, but its lack of ability to follow-up the analysis of bad governance hinders its functionality.
One of the proposed initiatives to remedy this gap is connecting the AGA to the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). The APSA has already been operational for ten years and has a clear mandate for action as it is equipped with the PSC as its standing decision-making organ. However, it lacks a strong early warning mechanism that would allow it to pre-empt conflicts on the continent. The AGP can provide such support. This makes for an interesting partnership.
These two architectures already share some common ground. The PSC has the task to monitor the development of the member states towards democracy, good governance, law and order and the protection of human rights since these are identified as contributing factors for conflict prevention. The PSC also participates in the AGP. And both view the Charter as one of their building blocks.
The proposed links would not just strengthen the AGA, they would also improve the functioning of the APSA. The APSA was envisioned as a preventive structure, but so far its actions have been reactive. By establishing stronger early warning mechanisms, through the cooperation between the CEWS, the PoW and the AGA, the APSA would get more opportunities to act in a preventive manner.
Furthermore, the events of the Arab Spring have shown that the PSC was not equipped to analyse whether a given situation was a breach of the AU shared values – the normative ground for what counts as a legitimate political order are fundamentally contested. These terms could be clarified through timely discussion within the AGP. Especially the mix of the PSC, the Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Regional Economic Communities would ensure the issues to be viewed from different sides.
Through the establishment of these linkages, the actors of the AGA can put their concerns on the agenda of the PSC (although maybe indirectly through the PoW and the CEWS), strengthening the AGA through the provision of possibilities for follow-up action. Importantly, these possible linkages could be implemented within the current framework of the AU. Linking the AGA to the APSA will contribute to the functioning of the AU with regard to the governance-security nexus. Using the already existing structures, but making them work together instead of separately, will benefit the already implemented structures and initiatives.
Patty Claassens is an intern in ECDPM’s Africa’s Change Dynamics Programme
This blog post features the author’s personal views and does not represent the view of ECDPM.
Photo by Master Sgt. Dawn M. Price
To me the democratic structures we are talking about was never there in the first instance talk less of a decreasing quality of democracy. what we had was a sham governance system. The kind of APSA that can guarantee peace and security is not the type that is currently in place.To guarantee peace and security therefore both the AGA and the APSA must encompass mechanisms, processes, procedures and structures that should persistently and consistently define national security in terms of poverty eradication and sustainable development.in the context of post 2015; not an AGA and APSA that is defined in elite capture of national wealth, and national political and economic space and the protection the elites foreign propertied allieds