Lusaka, Zambia, Thursday, March 30, 2017. Representatives of the African Union (AU) Commission and Regional Economic Communities (RECs), civil society organizations, academia and selected experts on democratic governance are meeting in Zambia’s capital today to discuss the framework for cooperation towards the promotion of ratification, implementation and reporting the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG).
The meeting was organized by the African Governance Architecture (AGA) Secretariat based in the Department of Political Affairs in collaboration with COMESA, which also serves as the Vice Chair of the Bureau of the African Governance Platform. Over the next two days, the delegates will discuss among other things opportunities RECs offer towards the promotion of universal ratification, implementation of and reporting on ACDEG by their respective Member States.
The ACDEG was adopted ten years ago in January 2007 and came into force five years later in 2012. Since its adoption, ACDEG has brought together key elements of democracy, human rights and governance to enhance the quality of elections in Africa. This is in addition to promoting human rights, strengthening the rule of law, improving political, economic and social governance, and addressing the recurrent issues relating to unconstitutional changes of government in an increasing number of countries.
Addressing the delegates during the opening session, at the COMESA Secretariat in Lusaka, Assistant Secretary General of COMESA, Ambassador Dr Kipyego Cheluget noted:
‘The adoption of ACDEG heralded a major compass in navigating our democratic governance journey towards a desirable destination on the continent. As we have seen in various situations, it remains one of the key instruments in ensuring that we safeguard democratization processes on the continent.”
Speaking on behalf of the newly elected African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, HE Minata Samate Cessouma, Dr. Khabele Matlosa informed delegates that:
“Only 29 of the 55 AU Member States are State Parties to the Charter. This challenge is a wake-up call to refine our approaches, work together in an era of shrinking resources to deliver as one on the implementation of the Charter. This is why this meeting is very timely and important.’
To date, ACDEG has has been ratified by 29 out of 55 African Union Member States. The latest Member States to do so are Liberia which ratified earlier this month (March 7, 2017), Algeria (Jan 10, 2017), Comoros (Jan 6, 2017), Seychelles (Sep 28, 2016) and Namibia (Aug 30, 2016).
Of the 29, a total of 23 State Parties are due to submit State Reports on measures taken with a view to give effect to the principles and commitments of the Charter. So far, only the Republic of Togo has submitted its State Report. The AU Commission and the RECs continue to call for the universal ratification, domestication and implementation of ACDEG by all Member States.