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African Union – African Peer Review Mechanism

Organization(s):

AU/NEPAD/APRM

Country (ies):

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

Overview:

The APRM is a mutually agreed instrument voluntarily acceded to by the Member States of the African Union (AU) as an African self-monitoring mechanism. The APRM is a bold, unique and innovative approach designed and implemented by Africans for political and corporate accountability. Participation in the APRM is open to all member states of the African Union and it is of general consensus among African countries that peer pressure in objective manner generates positive outcomes.

Background:

Africa has long been enmeshed in development challenges and to tackle the challenges African leaders through the New Partnership for Africa's Development decided to take the continents destiny in their hands. One of the methodologies to liberate Africa from its destitution is by ensuring accountability and good governance among its leaders. The African Peer Review Mechanism base document (AHG/235 (XXXVIII) Annex 2), approved by the NEPAD Heads of State and Government and Implementation Committee (Implementation Committee) and endorsed by the African Union (AU) Summit in Durban, South Africa in July 2002. The APRM then became the channel through which African countries can take corrective measures for a sustainable development of the continent. The overall responsibility for the APRM is vested in the Committee of Participating Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the APRM (APR Forum).

A Panel of Eminent Persons (APR Panel) depicting regional and gender diversity was appointed by the Heads of State to oversee the conduct of the APRM process and ensure its integrity. The APR Panel is assisted by the APR Secretariat, which provides the secretarial, technical, co-ordinating and administrative support services for the APRM. The APRM Secretariat is currently established in the NEPAD Secretariat in Midrand, South Africa

The APRM process looks at four focus areas referred to as the Thematic Areas as follows:

Democracy and Good Political Governance

This thematic area looks at ensuring that the respective national constitutions reflect the democratic ethos and provide for demonstrably accountable governance and that political representation is promoted, thus providing for all citizens to participate in the political process in a free and fair political environment.

Economic Governance & Management

Good economic governance including transparency in financial management is essential pre-requisites for promoting economic growth and reducing poverty. Mindful of this, there are five key objectives pursued namely:
  • Promote macroeconomic policies that support sustainable development
  • Implement transparent, predictable and credible government economic policies
  • Promote sound public finance management
  • Fight corruption and money laundering
  • Accelerate regional integration by participating in the harmonization of monetary, trade and investment policies amongst the participating states
  • Corporate Governance

    Corporate governance is concerned with the ethical principles, values and practices that facilitate holding the balance between economic and social goals and between individual and communal goals. The aim is to align as much as possible the interests of individuals, corporations and society within a framework of sound governance and common good.

    Socio-economic Development

    Poverty can only be effectively tackled through the promotion of democracy, good governance, peace and security as well as the development of human and physical resources. Key socio-economic thrusts such as promoting gender equality as well as allocation of appropriate funds for social sector and promoting new partnerships between governments and the private sector and civil society are essential in this area.

    The challenges of the 21st century necessitated the African continent to come up with new strategy to deal with the various problems facing Africa. Nepad then provided the instrument to advance people – centered development in Africa, based on democratic values and principles. It is the focal point and overall strategic framework for the engagement of development initiatives and programmes in Africa. African leaders have agreed on the need for an African Peer Review Mechanism to ensure that together states are able to reflect on the manner in which each one of them work, in accordance with the agreements that are important for the development of their respective countries. Africa has moved beyond words to concrete action plans that are being articulated for implementation by African leaders.

    Implementation:

    A Panel of Eminent Persons (APR Panel) depicting regional and gender diversity was appointed by the Heads of State to oversee the conduct of the APRM process and ensure its integrity. The APR Panel is assisted by the APR Secreu tariat, which provides the secretarial, technical, co-ordinating and administrative support services for the APRM. The APRM Secretariat is currently established in the NEPAD Secretariat in Midrand, South Africa

    The implementation of the APRM process is evidenced in 25 member countries that have formally launched the APRM process, 13 have established their national structures: they are chronologically: Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Uganda, Mauritius, Benin, Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania. Of these 13 countries, 5 have duly completed and submitted their self-assessment report and Programme of Action (PoA) to the APR panel. These are: Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa and Algeria. These five countries have received a Country Review Mission and three countries (Ghana, Rwanda and Kenya) have been peer-reviewed during this period.

    The establishment of the APRM in a country is usually the first step of the work process, which is crucial to the success of the progarmme. The independence of the national body will ensure that the stake holders participate actively in the entire process. The APRM national governing council is usually supported by professionalized secretariat to carry out its assignment. To ensure the credibility of the exercise, the focal person is usually a respected and trusted person capable of coordinating all stake holders as well as capable of putting implementation on a fast track.

    The APR Process

    The APR process will be conducted under the leadership of the APR Panel and the technical support of the APR Secretariat. It consists of five stages that are defined in the APRM Base Document and discussed in detail in the Guidelines for Countries to Prepare for and to Participate in the APRM.

    Stage One is the preparatory process both at the level of the APR Secretariat and the national level. During this stage, the APR Secretariat will send a questionnaire to all participating countries on the basis of the mutually agreed Objectives Standards, Criteria and Indicators. The country will develop a self assessment on the basis of the questionnaire. The country is also expected to formulate a Preliminary programme of action based on existing policies, programmes and projects. Upon receiving the self assessment and the preliminary programme of action, the APR Secretariat which during this time has developed a Background document on the country, through research and gathering information relevant to the country will prepare an Issue paper that will guide the country in the review process. If on the basis of all available data the APR Secretariat determines that the issues require further in-depth assessment analysis, it will make arrangements for a competent partner institution to conduct the assessment. Upon completion of the technical assessment, the assessment report is sent to the APR Secretariat and the APR Panel.

    Stage Two marks the visit of the APR Team to the country concerned with a view to holding extensive consultations with all stakeholders.

    Stage Three is the drafting of the report by the APR Team. The report is prepared on the basis of the Background document and the Issue Paper prepared by the APR Secretariat, and the information provided in the country during the extensive consultations held with stakeholders.

    In Stage Four, the APR Team's report is submitted to the APR Secretariat and APR Panel. After deliberation by the APR Panel, the report is then submitted to the APR Forum for consideration and formulation of actions deemed necessary in accordance with the mandate of the APR Forum.

    Stage Five is the final stage of the APR Process. It involves making public the report and related actions. Six months after consideration of the report by the APR Forum, the report will be formally and publicly tabled in key regional and sub-regional structures.

    Allowance has also been made for a preliminary phase known as Country Support Mission. The primary purpose of the country support missions is to: ensure a common understanding of the philosophy, rules and processes of the APRM; and on the basis of the self assessed needs of the Participating Country, plan and provide support to the Participating Countries in aspects of the national processes where they signal a need for such support.

    Outcomes:

    The APRM is open to all member states of the AU and has impacted on governance in the continent to the extent that sixteen members have voluntarily acceded at present including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Republic of South Africa and Uganda. A number of other countries have also indicated intention to join and await the finalization of the formal prerequisites.

    So far, five have duly completed and submitted their self-assessment report and Programme of Action (PoA) to the APR panel. These are: Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa and Algeria. These five countries have received a Country Review Mission and three countries (Ghana, Rwanda and Kenya) have been peer-review during this period.

    The pace of reviews has also increased since the early days of implementation. As of September 2008, nine countries had been "peer reviewed", including Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Benin, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Algeria, and Uganda, and six reports have been made publicly available. Other countries such as Mozambique, Lesotho, Egypt, Gabon and Mauritius are at an advanced stage of review and these processes should be completed in the course of 2009.

    Evidence of Impact

    Although the APRM is still at an early stage of implementation, there are early signs of impact in terms of governance gains from countries that have inaugurated the process and engaged on reforms.

    Diagnostic Value of the APRM

    Recent developments in reviewed countries have demonstrated the strength of the mechanism as an early warning system for emerging issues and potential crisis. For example, the APRM report for Kenya had anticipated potential political unrest before ethnic related violence broke out in 2007, while the South Africa report had warned against xenophobic tensions that erupted in South Africa in May 2008. Other country reports that have been made publicly available also highlight common challenges across the continent, including managing diversity, curbing corruption, and strengthening accountability institutions. The diagnostic strength of the mechanism makes it a promising tool to identify key areas of intervention and set priorities for reform.

    Governance Gains

    The first countries that pioneered the review process have started to implement their Programmes of Action (POA) and have taken concrete steps to address some of the issues identified in the country reports. Although it is still early to judge the actual impact of current programme of reforms, this suggests that the APR can substantially contribute to promote governance gains. For example, as a direct outcome of the review process, Ghana reduced the size of the Cabinet and passed a long-awaited bill to protect whistleblowers and promote access to information. Rwanda reformed its business environment and various governance indicators indicate progress made in terms of control of corruption, government effectiveness and transparency of the regulatory frameworks. Kenya also passed laws on witness protection and public procurement following the completion of the review process.

    Development gains

    Beyond governance issues, evaluation of the APRM suggests positive outcomes towards supporting the achievement of development goals. A 2008 paper commissioned by the UN's High Level Task Force on the implementation of the right to development assessed the APRM from a right to development perspective. The review established that the APR makes a useful contribution especially with regard to ensuring respect for international commitments. The paper also stressed that, even if not entirely achieved in practice, the level of citizen participation in the review process comes closer to the ideals of right to development criteria in terms of process than any other similar mechanism.

    Limits of the Process

    In spite of these positive developments, the process continues to face major challenges of political, process and operational nature.

    Political Challenges

    Although the APRM is not supposed to be a scorecard, it identifies flaws and weaknesses of political processes. As the APRM looks at politically sensitive issues, it provides many governments with incentives to control the process, for example by appointing allies in the various peer review institutions, country teams or national coordinating bodies. In addition, while the APR Forum composition may provide high level political back up for the whole process, it potentially has also obvious limitations. African heads of states and governments have demonstrated reluctance to challenge the state sovereignty's principle and criticize each other.

    Aid Effectiveness:

    The operationalization of the APRM is very much enhanced by the participation of the various countries involved. Aid effectiveness is synonymous with good leadership and governance.

    African participating countries in the APRM programme do recognize that accountability and efficient government are the necessary direction to be taken for economic prosperity of the continent are thus allow themselves to be guided by their peers.

    It enjoys the support of other development actors. The African Development Bank has been lending its support to the African Peer Review Mechanism together with its strategic partners, the UNDP and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, ever since the Inaugural Summit of the APRM Committee of Participating Heads of State and Government (APR Forum) in 2004. More specifically, the Bank was designated by the APR Forum of Heads of State as a strategic partner in the field of economic and corporate governance, including Banking and financial standards.

    Also, a 2008 paper commissioned by the UN's High Level Task Force on the implementation of the right to development assessed the APRM from a right to development perspective. The review established that the APR makes a useful contribution especially with regard to ensuring respect for international commitments.

    Capacity Development:

    APRM ensures that participating countries are involved in the entire process, which is also not characterized by master-servant relationship. Rather, countries are given friendly advice on how to put structures in place for the common good of the country. The process opens doors for the involvement of citizenry through a participatory governance and democracy.

    The fact that it is an African owned programme makes is easier for African countries to grasp given that the peers have similar experience and history. Some capacity development benefits brought about by APRM in the reviewed countries include:

    Governance Gains

    The first countries that pioneered the review process have started to implement their Programmes of Action (POA) and have taken concrete steps to address some of the issues identified in the country reports. Although it is still early to judge the actual impact of current programme of reforms, this suggests that the APR can substantially contribute to promote governance gains. For example, as a direct outcome of the review process, Ghana reduced the size of the Cabinet and passed a long-awaited bill to protect whistleblowers and promote access to information. Rwanda reformed its business environment and various governance indicators indicate progress made in terms of control of corruption, government effectiveness and transparency of the regulatory frameworks. Kenya also passed laws on witness protection and public procurement following the completion of the review process.

    Development gains

    Beyond governance issues, evaluation of the APRM suggests positive outcomes towards supporting the achievement of development goals. A 2008 paper commissioned by the UN's High Level Task Force on the implementation of the right to development assessed the APRM from a right to development perspective. The review established that the APR makes a useful contribution especially with regard to ensuring respect for international commitments. The paper also stressed that, even if not entirely achieved in practice, the level of citizen participation in the review process comes closer to the ideals of right to development criteria in terms of process than any other similar mechanism.

    The cooperation is a good case for cooperation by consent and not by coercion, which is often the case with North –South cooperation.

    Duration:

    Started since 2003 with countries reviewed every five years

    Budget (Optional):

    US$7.1 million annually

    Name of Primary Contact Person:

    Mr. Assefa Shifa

    Title of Primary Contact Person:

    Officer in charge of the APRM Secretariat

    City:

    Midrand