Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Pan- African Parliament
Context and Background
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) is one of the 11 organs of the African Union (AU) as stipulated in the Constitutive Act of the AU. Also known as the African Parliament, it is the legislative body of the African Union and it exercises oversight, and has advisory and consultative powers. It was established by the protocol to the treaty establishing the African Economic Community (AEC) relating to the Pan-African Parliament adopted by the African Union in 2001. The protocol was adopted on 14 December 2003 and it held its inaugural session in March 2004. Currently 47 countries have ratified the protocol. It was created as a means to further consolidate the aspirations of Africans for greater unity, solidarity and cohesion in a larger community in light of the rich African diversity. This continental parliament currently sits in Midrand, South Africa. The current protocol is under review with the objective of granting the PAP greater powers and roles including legislative authority.
The creation of the PAP is informed by a vision to provide a common platform for African peoples and their grassroots organizations to take part in discussions and decision-making on the challenges facing Africa. It was established to promote democratic principles and popular participation, to consolidate democratic institutions and culture and to promote human and peoples’ rights in line with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The PAP’s objectives include to implement the policies and objectives of the AU, to cultivate human rights and democracy in Africa and ensure that African governments adhere to good governance, transparency and accountability. PAP is also meant to popularize the objectives and policies of the AU to the peoples of Africa, to promote peace, security and stability on the continent and strengthen a sense of solidarity and build common destiny among the peoples of Africa. It should also seek to promote self-reliance and economic recovery in Africa and engender cooperation and development in Africa including cooperation among Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and their members in parliament.
Every member state of the PAP nominates 5 representatives from their national parliaments with at least one being female and ensuring a diversity of political opinions among those representatives. The PAP sits twice a year as a parliament and holds other committee meetings and organizes fact finding missions to ascertain and make recommendations on an issue of interest to the AU. Currently the parliament has 11 committees focusing on various issues and plans are underway to align these to the African Union Commission. The PAP also has a vibrant Women’s Caucus which also meets before or during PAP sittings to deliberate on the issues of women in Africa. Currently when they vote, Pan-African parliamentarians exercise a personal and independent vote.
- The Pan-African parliamentarians are representatives of all the African peoples.
- The PAP shall examine, discuss or express an opinion on any matter, either on its own initiative or at the request of the Assembly or other policy organs and make any recommendations it may deem fit particularly matters pertaining to respect of human rights, the consolidation of democratic institutions and the culture of democracy, as well as the promotion good governance and the rule of law.
- PAP is entitled to discuss its own budget and the budget of the AEC and make recommendations prior to AU approval.
- PAP must work towards the harmonization or co-ordination of the laws of African countries and make recommendations aimed at the attainment of the objectives of the AU/AEC while drawing attention to the challenges facing the integration process in Africa as well as the strategies for dealing with them.
- The PAP can request officials of the AU or any of its organs to attend its sessions, produce documents or assist in the discharge of its duties.
- PAP must promote the programmes and objectives of the AU, in the constituencies of the member states and promote the co-ordination and harmonization of policies, measures, programmes and activities of the RECs and African parliaments.
- The PAP is entitled to perform any other functions as it deems appropriate to achieve the objectives set out in its protocol
- PAP shall promote the principles of human rights and democracy in Africa and encourage good governance, transparency and accountability in Africa.
- The PAP must popularize the objectives, policies and programmes aimed at African integration within the framework of the AU to the African peoples.
- The PAP shall promote peace, security and stability in Africa and contribute to a more prosperous future for the peoples of Africa by promoting collective self-reliance and economic recovery.
- PAP must facilitate cooperation and development in Africa and strengthen continental solidarity and build a sense of common destiny among Africans.
- PAP must facilitate cooperation among and work closely with regional economic communities and all African parliaments and other deliberative bodies within African states and ensure annual consultative forums with these bodies.
- The PAP has and can establish or reform existing committees as it deems fit for the proper discharge of its functions as provided in its rules of procedure.
- The establishment of the PAP is meant to ensure the effective and full participation of the African peoples in the economic development and integration of the continent.
- After the initial five years of the PAP a review of the protocol was initiated and it is incumbent that every ten years the protocol will be reviewed with the view of making necessary changes to meet the objectives and purpose of the PAP.