The African Union Commission (AUC) treaties represent the forefront of pan-African cooperation on building international frameworks sustainable development. However, the low rate of ratification of AUC Treaties is undermining efforts towards the building of sustainable and resilient African societies. To tackle the slow uptake of treaty law, the AUC Office of the Legal Counsel (OLC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), developed a joint regional project targeting six treaties related to good governance, human rights and women and youth empowerment. In Kenya, UNDP is working with parliamentarians, ministries, academia and civil society to accelerate ratification and domestication of the treaties, catalysing this effort at a recent sensitisation workshop held in Mombasa.
The AU Treaties constitute the normative frameworks which govern policies designed in the continent to achieve the SDGs and Agenda 2063. To date, the OAU/AU has adopted 72 legal instruments out of which less than half have been ratified and deposited by Member States. Progressively, however, the AU has adopted institutional and normative frameworks for the promotion and realization of its development aspirations. The realization of the impacts of the 2030 Agenda and the 2063 Agenda thus depends on AU Member States effectiveness in aligning these aspirations with their national development frameworks. While most African countries have and continue to align their development plans with the two agendas, different degrees of challenges still impede effective implementation of policies to achieve key targets.
Further to this, a sensitization workshop was held in Mombasa, Kenya from the 24th-27th November 2019 and attended by Members of the Parliament from both the National Assembly and the Senate, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant ministries, the Office of the Attorney General, academia and civil society. Participants were sensitized on Kenya’s treaty making and ratification procedure, the efficacy of the current legislative procedure and ways to better increase public participation to speed up ratification, domestication and implementation of AU Treaties.
Ms. Mandisa Mashologu, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Kenya, open the workshop by reiterating UNDP’s strong commitment and support towards localizing global and regional commitments, as a pathway to Africa’s peace and economic prosperity, which is inclusive and reaches all, especially the most vulnerable people on the continent. She added that in this effort, UNDP and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have partnered to explore innovative approaches to address multiple pressing and inter-related challenges of the treaty making and ratification procedure in the country, including by enhancing the capacity for coordinated action between the Executive, the Parliament of Kenya and County Governments and Assemblies.
Hon. Ababu Namwamba, Chief Administrative Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, echoed Kenya’s commitment towards the creation of a conducive environment for the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the aspirations of the African Union Agenda 2063. Of importance, he affirmed the need for deeper collaboration between state organs in advancing international commitments through legislative development, policy making, and public administration as contemplated by the Constitution of Kenya.
While Kenya has ratified five treaties of the project focus, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance is yet to be ratified and deposited by it. This project thus aims in addition to accelerating Kenya’s ratification to ACDEG, enable wide implementation and popularisation of the other five treaties.
The treaties include the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of women in Africa, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the African Youth Charter, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. Target countries under the OLC and UNDP joint project representing the AU’s five geographic regions are: Burkina Faso & Senegal (West Africa), Kenya (East/Horn of Africa), Mozambique (Southern Africa), Sao Tome & Principe (Central Africa) and Tunisia (North Africa).
Reaffirming collaborative efforts to accelerate ratification and domestication as a step in the right direction, participants called on UNDP and the AU through this project to assist in the review of the treaties regularly, and implementation as this will continue to inform political and economic stability and importantly situate the global shared vision of leaving no one behind.