AU Urge Delegates To Convey The True Message To Their Countries

Participants attending the 26th Ordinary Assembly of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, have been asked not to see the Summit as ‘talk shows’ but rather, they should translate what transpired and agreed upon to their citizenry.

The Head of Oxfam International and Liaison Officer to the AU, Mr. Desire Assogbavi said this yesterday at the opening of a two-day training workshop for civil society groups, journalists and press attaches at the various Embassies in Addis Ababa.

He suggested the need to send experts to such Summits, citing instances where people with no technical background participate but failed to make meaningful contribution, simply because they do not understand the subject matters tabled.

“Some of the delegates call themselves experts and attend virtually every meeting including Trade, Finance, Peace and Security, gender among others but failed to make meaning contributions or impact because they lack the knowledge surrounding what was discussed,” he noted.

Mr. Assogbevi wondered the role of the Permanent Representatives at the AU who are Ambassadors representing member countries, noting that some Embassies have experts who could best attended such meetings, instead of people with no ideas.

He therefore asked civil society groups including journalists to put governments for that matter the AU on their toes by ensuring that the right thing was done.

Mr. Assogbavi, described as unfortunate, the number of protocols and decisions that were arrived at during such Summits, but failed to implemented because the delegates are unable to understand and propagate their voices to their citizenry when they return back to their respective countries.

Averagely, he said, 50 decisions and protocols were taken at each event yet, only few of such decisions were implemented.

He cited the 25th AU Summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa, last year where 40 decisions were taken, however, only four of the decisions were implemented.

He described that as not the best and urged the AU and member states move to an optimum level.

Mr. Assogbavi said the time had come for member countries for that matter the AU to be proactive and assertive by ensuring that they go by what the Summit agreed upon and make their citizens feel part of what was discussed.

Making a presentation on the African Governance Architecture (AGA) Dr. George Mukundi of the Political Affairs Department of the AU Secretariat, said the AGA was a continental institutional framework aimed at connecting, empowering and building capacities of African people.

“It was to also facilitate, harmonise and coordinate the instrument of initiatives in governance and democracy among AGA platform members.”

Touching on the theme of the Summit, he said, it was an opportunity to reflect on the 35th anniversary of the adoption of the African Charter in Nairobi in 1981.

The year, he said also marked the 30th anniversary of the entry into force of the African Charter, the 30th anniversary of the entry into force of the African Charter in 1986; and the 29thAnniversary of the operationalization of the Commission in 1987 (in 2016 the Commission will be just one year shy of its 30th anniversary) and marked the 10thAnniversary of the operationalization of the Court.

This year, he added, it also gave reflection of the Maputo Protocol 13 years and to reaffirm AU’s commitment to gender equality, in 2004, the Assembly of Heads of State adopted, the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA) among others.

Mr. Mukundi noted that the commitment was reinforced with the adoption of the first-ever African Union Gender Policy in 2009 and Assembly Declaration of 2010-2020 as an African Women’s Decade and the launching of the Fund for African Women.

The Head of Division, Coordination and Outreach of Women, Gender and Development Directorate of the AU, Ms. Victoria Makola said the declaration of 2016 as the Africa Year of Human Rights provides further opportunity to consolidate the gains made over the years, ensure better coordination of human rights bodies on the continent, and move towards the establishment of a true human rights culture on the continent’, she said.

The year, she said marked the second consecutive year on the agenda of the UN to promote gender equality and women’s right.

She enumerated the numerous challenges that African girls and women go through including harmful cultural practices and discrimination hence the focus on women’s right at this year’s Summit of the AU.

“It is also an opportunity for the AU to assess its position in human rights and the commitments made in the area of human rights,” she noted.

She challenged the member States to be advocates of human and women’s rights by ensuring that they well understood agreed upon and implemented.

Giving an overview of the transformation from the Organisation of African Unity to the African Union, the Policy Advisor, Peace and Security and Oxfam Liaison Officer to the AU, Ms. Brenda Mofya, said the OAU started as an ideological institution of building a strong United African to resist colonialism and build strong solidarity and deal with racisms among others.

The then leaders, she said wanted a continent that was free from colonialism towards the attainment of peace and security and improve the economic and welfare of the African people while attaining its dignity and sovereignty

The AU sometimes rush to take decisions but failed to implement them, unfortunately, they bring people who do not have legal and technical background to attend the Summit and sign protocols one-half of member countries

The training, being organised by the Department of Information and Communications of the AU and Oxfam international, was part of an annual pre-summit workshop to sensitise the participants to understand and engage the AU.

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