The PAP Announces Its Dedication To Human Rights, Democracy And The ‘Rule of Law’ As Chair Of The AGA.
On Monday 9 May, H.E. Hon Dr. Bernadette Lahai, Fourth Vice President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) confirmed the PAP’s total dedication to amongst other protect and promote human rights, democracy and ‘the rule of law’ as the 2016 – 2017 Chair of the African Governance Architecture (AGA) Platform. “To demonstrate our commitment, I would like to announce 12 May as the Pan-African Day on Human Rights, with special focus on the Rights of Women,” she stated.
The theme for the parliament seating on 12 May is aligned with the African Union’s theme for 2016 and as such, there will be speeches and presentations by the likes of NEPAD’s Director for the Gender Programme, the AUC’s Director for Women, Gender and Development, the Southern and Eastern African Regional Adviser on Gender of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Representative of Human Rights in Saharawi, the Chairperson of the Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and the PAP’s Women Caucus, to name but a few.
Her statement followed a presentation by Dr. Khabele Matlosa, Director of the Department of Political Affairs of the African Union (AU) Commission to elucidate the role of the AGA. The African Governance Architecture (AGA) is inspired by the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU) that expresses the AU’s determination to ‘promote and protect human and people’s rights, consolidate democratic institutions and culture and ensure good governance and the rule of law’. This determination is reinforced by related objectives and principles contained in Article 3(g and h) and Article 4(m) of the Act on the promotion, protection and respect for human rights, democratic principles and institutions, and good governance. These ideals are further underpinned by norms, pronouncements, decisions and instruments adopted by the AU and in particular, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG).
Mr Matlosa explained that the PAP, as a key organ of the AU, is strategically positioned to champion these objectives and principles. “Finally and most importantly, the expanded mandate of the PAP provides an opportunity for the PAP to develop model laws in relation to almost all five clusters of the AGA,” he said.
Dr. Lahai highlighted some of the activities that the PAP has embarked on already, since its election as Chair. In an AGA platform meeting on African governance that was held in Algiers, Nigeria from 2-5 August 215, the PAP was elected as the Chairperson of one of the five AGA clusters, the Cluster for Constitutionalism and Rule of Law. The objectives of this cluster are to promote and enhance adherence to the principle of the rule of law and enhance constitutional order in Africa, including addressing unconstitutional changes of government. The cluster also seeks to support the constitutional and institutional reform and rebuilding of AU member states, especially those emerging from conflict.
The PAP hosted its first regional meeting of the cluster with the representatives of the judiciary to strengthen the rule of law and justice reform in Midrand, South Africa on the 2nd of December 2015. The PAP also participated in the AGA platform’s technical meeting that was held in Cape Town on 15 February 2016. A notable outcome of this meeting was a resolution that with immediate effect, periodic reports, as well as annual work plans will be submitted to the AGA Secretariat to inform annual planning and budgeting for the platform. Subsequently, these reports should play a central role in the initiatives that form part of Project 2016.
Important functions that the PAP will fulfil in the remainder of the period as Chair of the AGA; include strengthening its oversight role and ensuring the implementation of recommendations made to countries in reports that formed part of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). With the ratification of the PAP revised protocol, it is also envisaged that the PAP will have the capacity to develop model laws in relation to almost all five of the AGA clusters, including the Constitutionalism and Rule of Law, Humanitarian Affairs, Human Rights and Governance and Democracy clusters. “Honourable members, we finally need to deepen our involvement in election observation, both in pre- and post elections and explore participation in human rights observation missions,” Dr. Lahai concluded.