The APRM has been one of NEPAD’s most successful programmes in encouraging good governance and democratisation in Africa. It is a unique accountability method for African countries to review each other’s governance and hold each other to account. Since 2003, thirty three (33) of Africa’s fifty four (54) nations have acceded to the APRM of which seventeen (17) have successfully completed their self – assessment and have been peer – reviewed. This included the review of their policies and practices on democracy, political governance, economic governance and corporate governance.
BRIEF ON AFRICAN PEER REVIEW MECHANISM (APRM)
The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is a mutually agreed instrument voluntarily acceded to by the member states of the African Union (AU) as a self – monitoring mechanism. It was founded in 2003.
The mandate of the APRM is to encourage conformity to political, economic and corporate governance values, codes and standards, among African countries and the objectives in socio-economic development within the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
ORIGINS OF AFRICAN PEER REVIEW MECHANISM (APRM)
The 37th summit of the Organisation of African Unity held in July 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia adopted a document setting out a new vision for the revival and development of African, which was to become known as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
In July 2002, the Durban AU summit supplemented NEPAD with a Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance. According to the Declaration, states participating in NEPAD ‘believe in just, honest, transparent, accountable and participatory government and probity in public life’. Accordingly, they ‘undertake to work with renewed determination to enforce’, among other things, the rule of law; the equality of all citizens before the law; individual and collective freedoms; the right to participate in free, credible and democratic political processes; and adherence to the separation of powers, including protection for the independence of the judiciary and the effectiveness of parliaments.
The Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance also committed participating states to establish an African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) to promote adherence to and fulfilment of its commitments. The Durban summit adopted a document setting out the stages of peer review and the principles by which the APRM should operate.
In March 2003, the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee, meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, adopted a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the APRM. This MoU effectively operates as a treaty; it came into effect immediately with the agreements of six (6) countries to be subject to its terms. Those countries that not accede to the document are not subject to review. The March 2003 meeting also adopted a set of ‘objectives, standards, criteria and indicators’ of the APRM. The meeting agreed to the establishment of a secretariat of the APRM and appointment of a seven (7) person ‘panel eminent persons’ to oversee the conduct of the APRM process and ensure its integrity.
The APRM is a voluntary mechanism open to any AU country. A country formally joins the APRM upon depositing the signed Memorandum of Understanding, (MoU) of March 9, 2003 at the NEPAD secretariat. Currently, thirty four (34) countries have formally joined the APRM by signed the MoU on the APRM.
The process on entails periodic review of the policies and practices of participating states to ascertain progress being made towards achieving manually agreed goals and compliance with agreed political, economic corporate government values, codes and standards as outlined in the Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic, Corporate Governance and Social- Economic Development.
The APRM process looks at four focus areas:
- Democracy and Good Political Governance;
- Economic Governance and Management;
- Corporate Governance; and
- Social-Economic Development.
The APRM process is best on a “self-assessment’’ questionnaire developed by the APR Secretariat. It is divided into a four (4) sections: democracy & political governance, economic governance & management, corporate governance and social-economic development. Its question and designed to assess states’ compliance with a wide range of African and international human rights treaties and standards. The questionnaire was formally adopted in February 2004, in Kigali, Rwanda, by the first meeting of the APR Forum, made of representatives of the Heads of State or Government of all States participating in the APRM.
TYPES OF REVIEW
As originally envisaged in the APRM base document adopted at the AU Durban summit in 2002, there are four types of review; 1 – Base review: This is carried out within eighteen (18) months of a country becoming member of the APRM; 2 – Periodic review: Every two to four (2-4) years; 3 – Requested review: Any Country can request an additional review its own reasons; 4 – Crisis review: Early signs of impending political or economic crisis would also be sufficient cause to institute a review.
APRM STRUCTURES – APR FORUM
This is the committee of the Head of State and Government of the countries voluntarily participating in the APRM. It is the highest decision-making body and could be considered like the Board of Directors which has the final say over the whole process. They appoint the APR panel, look after the funding, discuss the country reports, apply the peer pressure and transmit the report to the relevant AU structures.
This can be considered as the management or the executive of the APRM that directs and manages its operations. They are ‘appointed to oversee the review process, to consider review reports and to make recommendation to the APR forum’;
The panel consists of seven (7) Eminent Persons of ‘high moral stature and demonstrated commitment to the ideals of Pan Africanism’ who, moreover, have ‘expertise in the areas of political governance, macro-economic management, public financial management and corporate governance’. Its composition should also reflect a regional, gender and cultural balance. The panel member are nominated by the participating countries, short listed by a Committee of Ministers, appointed by the APR forum and serve for up to four (4) years and five (5) for the chairman.
Each county to be reviewed is assigned to one of the seven Eminent Persons, who consider and review reports, and make recommendation to the APR Forum.
The APRM Secretariat executes its regular missions and achieves its key objectives with the help of its experienced staff and consultants from different African countries, including those from the Diaspora. The Secretariat provides technical, coordinating and administrative support services for the APRM. Its activities are also focused on the preparation and organisation of the Panel Meetings and Submits of the APRM Forum; planning and organisation of Country Review Visits, sharing of experience and best practices and addressing constraints in the implementation of National Programmes of Action, etc. It is ‘supervised directly by the Chairperson of the APR Panel at the policy level and in the day-to-day management and administration by an Executive Officer’. The Secretariat is based in Midrand, South Africa.
APR COUNTRY REVIEW TEAM
They are appointed by the APR Panel, one of whose members heads the team, and are ‘constituted only for the period of the country review visit’. Their composition is ‘carefully designed to enable an integrated, balanced, technically competent and professional assessment of the reviewed country’.
APR FOCAL POINT
This is a national mechanism set up by a participating country in order to play a communication and coordination role. It serves as the liaison between national structures and continental ones such as the APR Secretariat and the APR Panel. It also, in conjunction with the National Co-ordinating mechanism, develops, co-ordinates and implements the in-country mechanisms of preparing for peer review and hosting the country review team during the review visit. The precise form of the Focal Point is left to the county’s discretion, but according to the APR forum, it ‘should be at Ministerial level or a High-level Official reporting directly to the Head of State or Government and with access to all national stakeholders’.
NATIONAL CO-ORDINATING STRUCTURES
Here the actual implementation of the APRM at the national level happens. The country’s self-assessment happens here by conducting, as the MOU mandates, ‘broad-based and all-inclusive’ consultation of key stakeholders in the public and private sectors. In addition, together with the Focal Point it should ‘develop co-ordinate and implement the in-country mechanisms of preparing for peer review and hosting the county review team during the review visit’. As with the Focal Point, countries have discretion as to how this is implemented.