Ihoughton Strengthening Accountability Against Multi Lateral Agreements V031011


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Paper presented on African Multi-lateralism and the role of NGOs and citizens

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Ihoughton Strengthening Accountability Against Multi Lateral Agreements V031011

  1. 1. Claiming Continental Rights within the Nation-State Paper presented to the Oslo Governance Forum, October 4, 2011 By Irũngũ Houghton, Pan African Director, Oxfam1AbstractTwo important trends inform the future of Africa. Firstly, the continent is currently experiencing greater economicgrowth and more effective governance than the previous decade. Secondly, the power and influence of African multi-lateral institutions, most notably, the African Union is on the rise. Whether these two trends lead to a moreprosperous, just and democratic Africa depends on the capability of its citizens to claim freedoms and rights nowenshrined in a raft of progressive continental human rights instruments and policy standards. This paper examinesthese issues and offers three recent examples of attempts to realise these rights by CSOs and their coalitions. TheAfrican experience could offer lessons for colleagues working in other regions with multi-lateral organisations.A Rapidly Changing Political EconomyAfrica could be on the brink of an economic takeoff, much like China was 30 years ago, and India 20 years ago.… Alongside theacceleration in [economic] growth, progress on the MDGs has been sufficiently rapid that many countries (such as Malawi,Ghanaand Ethiopia) are likely to reach most of the goals, if not by 2015 then soon thereafter. Africa’s poverty rate was falling at onepercentage point a year, from 59 per cent in 1995 to 50 per cent in 2005. Child mortality rates are declining; HIV/AIDS is stabilising;and primary completion rates are rising faster in Africa than anywhere else. Africa’s Future and the World Bank’s Role in it, 20102A range of both African and non-African institutions have pointed to the sustained economic growth, socialprogress and relative peace within the continent even during a global economic crisis. One has even gone asfar as speaking of Africa’s economies as “lions on the move”.3 While the global economy contracted, bringinga number of countries to their knees and an average of 0.6% growth rate, Africa is currently the second fastestgrowing regional economy after Asia. The majority of African economies are experiencing between 3-5%growth-rates with Sudan, Angola and Libya being among the ten fastest growing economies in the world in2010. At current rates, Africa could become a US$13 trillion economy by 2050. This would be larger thanNorth America or Europe in 2010.4From the time when Africa was racked with no less than 186 coups and 26 armed conflicts (1960 – 2000) toless than four major conflicts and five coups in 2011, it would seem that Africa has transformed itself. Morethan two thirds of Africa’s citizens now regularly hold elections to elect Governments of their choice. 5 Sevencitizens out of ten prefer electoral democracy as their favoured system of Government and two thirds feel it istheir responsibility to hold their Governments accountable.6Yet, these achievements mask perverse inequalities and tremendous challenges for the majority of Africancitizens in terms of political, social and economic rights. These challenges can be captured in the context ofprogressive continental human rights instruments and governance standards agreed over the last decade.1 Irũngũ Houghton is the Pan Africa Director for Oxfam based in Nairobi, Kenya. He can be reached by email:irunguh@oxfam.org.uk, mobile +254733635354, twitter: irunguhoughton2 World Bank – Africa’s Future and the World Bank’s Role in it, 2010http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTAFRICA/Resources/Africa_s_Future_and_the_World_Bank_s_Role_in_it.pdf3 McKinsey and Company Lions on the Move: Progress and Potential of Africa’s Economies, June 2010,http://www.mckinsey.com/mgi/publications/progress_and_potential_of_african_economies/index.asp4 Jakkie Cilliers, Barry Hughes and Jonathan Moyer African Futures 2050 - The next forty years, , January 2011http://www.iss.co.za/pgcontent.php?UID=306135 Jakkie Cilliers, Barry Hughes and Jonathan Moyer, ibid6 Afrobarometer Are Democratic Citizens Emerging in Africa? Briefing Paper No.70, May 2009 www.afrobarometer.org
  2. 2. Continental policy standards and the reality for African citizens 7 New Continental Standards Progress since the nineties The challenge before us in 2011 From 49 to less than 5 states ruled by the military, one party states 1/3 and de jure Life Presidents with of countries have competitive Public revenue worth seventeen times more than aid elections financing routinely lost to capital flight and corruption African Charter for Popular Participation Right of citizens Justice sector reforms legalise information and association New laws outlaw/restrict organizational and information for Democracy and Human Rights (1990) freedoms to participate in freedoms in Ethiopia among others African Charter on Democracy, Elections 8 governance Over 500 million own mobile phones. Violence and political intolerance accompanies one in four and Governance (2007) New and mass media multiples citizens choices with one in five elections people owning radios and one in ten communicating through the 9 internet. Protocol to the African Charter on Human Arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings most notably and People’s on the Rights of Women in Ten countries have seen significant improvements in the Nigeria, Guinea, Egypt, Eritrea and The Gambia Freedom from Africa (2003) representation of women in national assemblies Armed opposition and Government security forces commit Discrimination African Charter on the Rights and Welfare New laws criminalize early marriages, widow disinheritance, abuses in Libya, Central African Republic, Chad, DRC, Somalia and Violence of the Child(1990), violence, female genital mutilation and other harmful cultural and Sudan Post Conflict, Reconstruction practices Rise in ethnic, homophobic, patriarchical and religious 10 Development Policy (2006) fundamentalism, domestic violence Urbanization without industrialization leaves many without jobs Eight of the 20 fastest growing economies in Africa with average 44 countries import 25% of food needs Economic rights Comprehensive Africa Agricultural growth rates set to return to 5% 313 million people denied right to food, recent price food realisation Development Plan (2003) Doubling of public agricultural investment hikes push 28 million people further into poverty Corporate exploitation denies community livelihoods, fuels conflict Huge inequities exist between urban and rural, rich and poor Dakar Framework for Action-Education For Ten of thousands in urban areas without security, water or All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments Universal primary education and health-care provision sanitation (2000), the Abuja Declaration on HIV/AIDS, Improving child and adult mortality rates Two out of every five men and women die of infectious diseases Social Rights Tuberculosis, and Other Related Infectious HIV infection rates are falling One in sixteen women die at child-birth Realisation Diseases (2001), the Maputo Plan of Action 80% enrolment rates for primary education in 15 countries Retention of girls and overall quality is still weak for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Girls comprise of 45% primary schools students in 29 countries One in three children out of school Rights 2007-2010 (2006), the Africa Health Average teacher/pupil ratio in SSA is 45:1, above recommended Strategy: 2007–2015 40:1 ratio7 Unless otherwise specifically footnoted, the facts for this table are largely drawn from Amnesty International - The State of the World’s Human Rights 2010 Report and State of the UnionCoalition - State of the Union Continental Report 2010.8 African Mobile Factbook 20089 Tiyambi Zeleza “Media in Social Development in contemporary Africa” in K. Njogu and J. Middleton Media and Identity in Africa, 200910 United Nations – The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics, 2010
  3. 3. The Expanding Influence of African Multi-lateralism The choice before Africa is, therefore, not so much whether to unite or not to unite – that, indeed, is already a settled historical issue. The real options centre on a set of starker choices: collective self- reliance or perpetual foreign dependence; collective autonomy or continued foreign domination; a continent with one voice or a latter-day tower of Babel; a people-centred union or a high profile members’ club.... 11 Audit of the African Union – The High Level Panel, 2008 In 2008, the High Level Panel to Audit of the African Union correctly situated the emergence of the African Union within the context of a historically hostile global environment that has consistently sought to strip Africa of its labour and raw materials for the development of Europe. The Panel further noted that birth of African Union was also an admission of the failure of African states to respond effectively to the needs of its own citizens in the nineties. 12 The founding documents of the African Union most notably the Sirte Declaration (1999) and the Constitutive Act of the African Union (2000) fundamentally widened the space for active citizenship and peer state accountability in Africa. Since 2000, African Governments have gone on to adopt over thirty treaties, conventions, strategic policy frameworks and declarations that boldly raised the bar for standards of governance and development. Combined, they significantly alter the normative framework for public participation and human rights as well. Elsewhere, I have argued that Africa has experienced three distinct models of nation- state sovereignty in recent times. During the colonial period, Africans were subjects of a colonial state that subordinated them to other populations and states. The post- colonial period saw Africans claim the right to vote, own property and confer citizenship within representative national democracies. The adoption of the Sirte Declaration and the Constitutive Act by African States expanded the notion of citizenship with clear references to a “people-driven African Union” and an “Africa driven by its citizens”. Also significant, was the abandonment of the Organisation of African Unity principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of a Member State in favour of the AU principle of non-indifference in the face of gross human rights violations, crimes against humanity and unconstitutional seizures of power.13 It is within this context that several citizens, civil society organisations and their coalitions have begun monitoring and challenging the performance of both the organs of the African Union and African Governments against these principles, declarations and agreements. By avoiding the traditional silos of demand and supply, these campaigns support citizens to raise their voice and make claims, hold power-holders accountable for their actions and inactions and directly influence formal institutions.11 www.pambazuka.org/actionalerts/images/.../AUDIT_REPORT.doc12 www.pambazuka.org/actionalerts/images/.../AUDIT_REPORT.doc13 Irũngũ Houghton - Identifying the domains of competence and the possible impact of the establishment of a Union Government onthe sovereignty of states, www.issafrica.org/pgcontent.php?UID=7052
  4. 4. Case-study 1: The State of the African Union Coalition https://www.stateoftheunionafrica.net Identity Campaign Identity Reason for its existence Actions and tools used Results and Some Impact Established November 2009, this is a Despite the adoption of progressive Research framework New multi-country coalition emerges committed to collectively branded coalition of ten normative policy standards, poor ratification adopted and focus on four supporting citizens groups to hold Governments CSO members. and implementation track records, weak policy standards and ten accountable for their performance against their own national inter-ministerial coordination and legal instruments14, bi- standards. The members include Al-Ahram public awareness and compliance oversight annually continental and Center for Political and Strategic constrain progress. AU Organs most notably national compliance Two days after Government delegations and African Studies, Egypt; Centro de the Commission were not mandated to reports, national advocacy, Union staff received the 2010 continental report, the Aprendizagem e Capacitação da monitor and challenge Governments community mobilisation, Ministers of Foreign Affairs present at the ExecutiveSociedade Civil (CESC), Mozambique; progress. Consequently, citizens denied country ranking and naming Council meeting of the AU in July 2010 made theCitizen’s Governance Initiatives (CGI), freedoms and rights. and shaming during AU following decision; Cameroon; FAHAMU, Kenya; La Summits, mass media  Explicit request to specific AU organs, RECs, International Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense Over next five years, the project seeks active impact and Regional Organizations and Civil Society to “assist des Droits de lHomme (RADDHO), citizenship, effective national governance with advocacy and sensitization of member states to Senegal; Le Collectif des Ligues et and the realization of freedoms and rights expedite the process of ratification of/ascension to OAU/AU Treaties….”Associations de Défense des Droits de contained in key AU standards. It intends to  Requested from the commission a regular reporting l’Homme au Rwanda (CLADHO); inform and empower citizens to act to claim mechanism to the Executive Council on the Oxfam, Southern Africa Trust, South key rights and freedoms, influence the implementation of this decision Ex.CL/Dec. 571 (XVII) Africa; The Institute of Democratic African Union and African States to ratify,Governance (IDEG), Ghana; Center for popularise and implement key standards and Executive Council/Dec. 571 (XVII) : Decision on the status of Advanced Social Science (CASS), building inclusive continental and national signature and ratification of OAU/AU Treaties. Nigeria platforms.14 The State of the Union and Country reports analysed 43 indicators across four policy standards and ten legal instruments. They included the Abuja Call for Accelerated Action TowardsUniversal Access to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Services by 2010, Abuja , Maputo Plan of Action for Implementing the Continental Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and RightsPolicy Framework 2007-2010, Maputo, African Health Strategy 2007-2015, Johannesburg , NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan (CAADP), African Charter on Humanand People’s Rights, African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, Addis Ababa , African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Addis Ababa African Convention on theConservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Algiers, African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, Maputo, African Youth Charter, Banjul, Protocol to the AfricanCharter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. Maputo, Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Pan-African Parliament,Sirte, Revised African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Maputo and Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community, Abuja.
  5. 5. Case-study 2: Making an Electoral Issue out of the Lack of Medicines in Malawi Identity Campaign Identity Reason for its existence Actions and tools used Results and Impact Campaign started in 2007, two years Despite its commitment to the Abuja Declaration National advocacy with 6 district Mobilisation of 14,000 people at events before the 2009 General Elections. on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, Malawi has some of lobbying of incumbent and aspirant many of them women given their central the worst health indicators in the world. MPs and strengthening of local role as care-givers,Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN), drug committees, 1,000 petition signatories, National Association for People living Life expectancy is 46 years. The infant mortality twice yearly client satisfaction over 25% participation by MHEN with HIV/AIDS in Malawi (NAPHAM, rate remains high and on average one woman in surveys, members in high-level and grassroots Malawi GCAP coalition, National every 100 will die in pregnancy or childbirth. budget tracking, lobbying,Organisation for Nurses and Midwives, Over 14 per cent of the population has HIV, dispensary monitoring, budgetary allocation to health increasedWord Alive Commission for Relief and making Malawi the ninth worst affected country capturing of stories for the mass from 8 to 21% of total budget at height of Development (WACRAD) and the in the world. media, campaign,15 Development Communication Trust Access to life-saving medicines, HIV test kits, and radio listening clubs, public acknowledgement by Minister of (DCT), Oxfam among others insecticide-treated nets is insufficient. Stocks of public mobilisation during Health and campaigning MPs, vaccines had run dangerously low. international days such as World mass media coverage This advocacy initiative sought to Although officially free, poor households can Health and World Poverty Day realize equitable access to essential spend up to 10% of their budgets on health. medicines by placing this issue at the Malawi also had a chronic shortage of health centre of the electoral campaigns workers, with only 127 doctors for the entire population of 13 million.15 It should be noted that in 2009, the health allocation dropped back to 13% of the national budget reflecting the need for persistent campaigning and lobbying.
  6. 6. Case-study 3: The first 20 days of Africans Act 4 Africa https://www.facebook.com/groups/253215608041899/ Identity Campaign Identity Reason for its existence Actions and tools used Results and Impact Established in August 2011 12 million African citizens on verge of Policy brief identifies specific financial US$43 out of 50million with specific starvation in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, responsibilities for each Government financial asks for each AfricanAlliance of 12 regional NGO Councils, pan US$1 billion humanitarian funding gap, based on AU Schedule of Assessed Government, African coalitions, individual African pathetic and disinterested initial African Contributions, 12 Regional, national and Pan African organisations and 1,500 citizens Government response. simultaneous multi-location press coalitions and Councils conferences, come together, Principle of non-indifference requires pan outreach to African musicians and public, 35 African musicians voluntarily African solidarity. lobbying of Addis based Ambassadors and participate, AU staff, AA4A video shown to the Heads of States, Alliance forms to mobilise African scorecard kept of Government’s AA4A become the first choice for media, Governments to raise US$50 million, contributions, 1500 FB Friends within 2 weeks, declare this Africa’s last famine and mass media briefing and digital media Policy-brief publicly recognised by AUC accelerate national adaption and leading to Nigerian Head of State being Chairperson and AU Envoy for Somalia investment plans by AU convened repeatedly tweeted by musicians fans and AA4A frames what becomes the Pledging Conference benchmark for financial success (US$50m)