Support to the African Governance Architecture (AGA)

Project description

Title: Support to the African Governance Architecture – Phase II
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: All member states of the African Union
Lead executing agencies: African Union represented by the African Union Commission
Overall term: 2014 to 2019

Context

Good governance and respect for human rights are key to peaceful and sustainable growth in Africa. They are therefore also one of the priorities of the African Union (AU) and of German development cooperation activities.

National governments and regional communities within the African Union have pledged to uphold human rights and democratic governance. However, when it comes to implementation, some African states fall short of their obligations. This is often due to insufficient institutional capacity.

In the past, many institutions and bodies within the African Union had a mandate to promote democratic governance, but there was poor coordination among them. Mandates and activities frequently overlapped and there were rarely any noticeable benefits for the population.

In 2010, the heads of state and government of the African Union therefore decided to build an African Governance Architecture (AGA). Its aim is to connect the numerous initiatives and processes with each other at national and regional levels.

Objective

African Governance Architecture is a mechanism for harmonising and implementing standards in democracy and human rights, which is recognised by states and citizens. It is the interface and driver for new programmes to promote human rights and democratic governance across the continent.

Approach

The African Governance Platform (AGP) with its 19 continental and regional institutions is at the heart of the African Governance Architecture. Its secretariat acts like a pacemaker and supports the platform organisationally, conceptually and thematically.

Many members of AGP have been partners of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH for many years. These include, for example, the Department of Political Affairs at the AU Commission, the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. They are working with German and international advisory teams and continuing the established cooperation. They are also implementing the funding programme through financial contributions.

The project is currently prioritising implementing democratic standards to bring about tangible and verifiable improvements in people’s everyday lives. It is also working to further institutional development, improve management skills and foster collaboration among AGP members.

The project has bases at the AU Commission in Addis Ababa and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Arusha.

Results

The trust-based cooperation among the stakeholders has intensified the work of the AGA platform and produced a functioning network. A total of 19 different African Union institutions are coordinating their joint activities through a shared mandate for better governance, democracy and human rights. An example of this was a joint observational mission on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic.

Pooling resources has made the work of individual institutions more effective, and resulted in tangible improvements in people's daily lives. One example is the jointly developed African Youth Engagement Strategy. In this Africa-wide network, more than 30,000 young people are effectively involved in political processes.

Another example is the improved capabilities of the national electoral authorities in Burkina Faso, which have contributed significantly to the peaceful transfer of power. Prior training enabled the security forces to act in a de-escalating manner on election day and resolve the tense situation produced by the impending change. 

In addition, decisions of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on freedom of the press and the protection of minority rights indicate positive developments in cooperation.

Further information