Slow ratification of protocols threatens integration efforts!
The Permanent Representative Committee and the Executive Committee of the African Union have both expressed concern the slow pace at which member states respond to ratify and domestic the AU legal instruments. Speaking at the Press Conference on the 28th January, the President of the Pan African Parliament said the 2017 theme of the African Union Summit; “harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in the youth” is an excellent reminder to respective legislatures to lay proper foundation if Africa is to achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030, as well as the African Union Agenda 2063.
"The apparent slow ratification of the Pan African Parliament (PAP)’s new protocol by African states; some three years after the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government adopted the protocol is of grave concern to the continental Parliament. The Pan African Parliament is currently unable to play its expected pivotal role of promoting Africa’s integration as well as steer the social, political and economic development of the continent due to failure by AU member states to ratify the PAP protocol," Honorable Roger Nkodo Dang emphasized.
He said the rapid growth of the youth in the African continent compels countries to act at a matching pace. The United Nations reported that in 2015, at least 226 million youth aged 15-25, accounting for 19% of the global youth population lived in Africa, while the number of youth in Africa is projected to grow by 42% in the next 13 years. The African Union has observed that many of our countries with a rapid growth of youth population are currently struggling to educate their young population. Inadequate investment in the health and education of young people limits their ability to reach their full productivity potential and to contribute to economic growth and development. "My conviction is that, to unleash the potential we have as Africa to empower our youth and to secure a much brighter future for our continent, we seriously need to oblige and honor our own decisions," he stressed.
The PAP protocol requires only 28 member states to ratify 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. The PAP members often indicate that without the legislative powers, the vision to speak and act in one voice becomes remote.
To date, only 14 of the 54 AU member states have signed the PAP Protocol. Five states, namely; Sierra Leone, Mali, The Gambia, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and Togo have ratified and duly deposited the instruments at the AU. The new PAP protocol provides the parliament with the new mandate; to propose and draft various pieces of legally binding instruments for consideration by the African Union and also the powers to examine and give counsel on various legal issues affecting the AU and its members.
The PAP 4th Vice-President, Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai says the new protocol will enable PAP to 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, as well as promotion of investments in the youth; the future of the continent. She says the legislative role will also enable PAP to become the true voice of the African people and accelerate regional integration as envisioned and enshrined in the 2063 Agenda for Africa.
"Not only Africa’s citizens but the youth are denied the opportunity to enjoy and exercise their rights because AU member states are slow in ratifying the PAP protocol as well as other protocols adopted by the AU. As a continental parliament, we long for the era when youths would participate more immensely or take the lead in the legislative process, integration of the continent and construction of the economy of Africa as it is their future," Dr. Lahai said.
The PAP Bureau has appealed to all relevant authorities and stakeholders to get on board in convincing their countries to ratify the PAP protocol, but also to ensure that ratification of all African Union protocols and treaties is prioritized at national level.
The PAP President ended by wishing leaders, members of respective parliaments and African citizens a prosperous and fruitful 2017 and also urged both Parliamentarians and respective leaders to begin the year 2017 year with deep thoughts about the gains that the continent could make through fast adoption and ratification of the treaties and protocols.