PAP laments slow ratification of its new protocol
The First Vice President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), Honourable Eduardo Joaquim Mulembwe has expressed grave concern over very slow ratification of PAP’s new protocol by African states two years after African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government adopted the protocol.
“The Pan African Parliament is currently unable to play its expected pivotal role of promoting Africa’s integration and social, political and economic development of the continent due to failure by AU member states to ratify the PAP protocol,” Honourable Mulembwe observed.
The PAP First Vice President was speaking on Wednesday when he officially opened the first Annual Meeting of the Association of Secretary-Generals and Clerks of African Parliaments (ASGAP) which was taking place at the PAP in Midrand, South Africa.
He said the PAP protocol required only 28 member states to ratify the protocol and thereby empower the continental parliament to begin exerting its legislative powers as stipulated in the protocol.
The 23rd AU Summit of Heads of State and Government that took place in June, 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea considered and adopted a number of protocols; one of which was the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union relating to the Pan-African Parliament, which gives PAP the legislative powers.
To date, only 12 of the 54 AU member states have signed the PAP Protocol while only two states, Sierra Leone and Mali, have ratified the protocol as well as made the required deposits with the AU.
Honourable Mulembwe said the new PAP protocol provides the parliament with the new mandate; to propose and draft various pieces of legally binding instruments for consideration of the African Union and also the powers to examine and give counsel on various legal issues affecting the AU and its members.
He noted that application of the new protocol will enable PAP transform from its current consultative role and strengthen it to effectively deal with challenges that Africa is grappling with such as combating terrorism, promoting security and intra-trade on the continent.
“The legislative role will enable PAP to become the true voice of the African people and accelerate regional integration as envisioned by the founding fathers of the African Union and those that have drafted the 2063 Agenda for Africa,” the PAP First Vice President said.
He noted that Africa’s citizens were denied the opportunity to enjoy and exercise their rights because AU member states were slow in ratifying the PAP protocol as well as other protocols adopted by the AU.
Mulembwe expressed concern that despite all the advocacy work that had been undertaken to encourage African countries to ratify the PAP protocol, only Mali and Sierra Leone had obliged and deposited their documents with the AU.
He observed that Secretary-Generals and Clerks of the African Parliament needed to get on board in influencing their countries to ratify the PAP protocol, but also ensure that ratification of African Union protocols and treaties is prioritised at national level.
Addressing the meeting, PAP’s Acting Clerk, Mr. Yusupha Jobe, informed the Secretary-Generals and Clerks of African Parliaments that their meeting has accorded them a great opportunity to discuss the dynamics relating to the ratification and implementation of the AU treaties, particularly the new PAP Protocol.
“The particular focus of this meeting will be the issue of how ratification and implementation of those instruments can be at the core of the priorities of the business of national parliamentary and foreign affairs,” he said.
The PAP Acting Clerk said the meeting would discuss and come up with solutions to obstacles that are slowing down speedy ratification and implementation of AU treaties but also consider any gains that the continent could achieve through fast adoption and ratification of the treaties.
Mr. Jobe said although governments negotiate and conclude treaties, it was the role of parliaments to ratify them and therefore; Secretary-Generals and Clerks of African Parliaments play a key role in translating continental and international treaties to domestic realities.
He cited lack of political will to ratify, weak leadership, complex ratification procedures, inconsistencies in linguistic texts of the treaties, lack of awareness, and lack of African citizens and Civil Society involvement as some of the obstacles impeding speedy ratification, domestication and implementation of AU protocols and treaties.