APRM takes stock of engagement with civil society

Addis Ababa, 17 May 2013 (ECA) - A decade after it was established, the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) engaged civil society representatives in a two colloquium on the theme: Reviewing a decade of peer learning and projecting a future of governance in Africa.

"It is a time to celebrate, but also to review the impact of this novel instrument on governance in Africa. While we, as Africans, can pride ourselves at on the gains made thus far and in such a short time span, it is also important to ensure that the APRM does not lose momentum given that the consolidation of institutions and processes are lengthy," said the organizers.
Held from 17-18 May in the historic Africa Hall at the Economic Commission for Africa, the forum discussed key issues around the APRM’s future, and what it will have achieved 10 years down the line. Participants focused on the broad overview of governance in Africa and some of the achievements, as well as non achievements of the APRM. The forum looked at the participation of civil society and the State, the constraints and challenges that the mechanism faced, the failures experienced and overall civil society engagement with the mechanism.

"There are some signs that in certain quarters its voice has been ineffectual and that recommendations flowing out of the review missions and which have been captured in the National Programmes of Action (NPOAs) have been ignored or dismissed," say Civil Society Representatives.

A working group showcased an APRM monitoring tool established in 2010 aimed at holding state actors to account on an evidence based approach. They also discussed some of the missing linkages in the process, specifically looking at gender and intergenerational interactions and how diversity could be better managed in the APRM process.

Given the amount of time an APRM process takes to complete, and the amount of elaborate research methods employed to tap into the ‘thinking’ of citizenry about their hopes and aspirations as Africans in the 21st Century, participants discussed useful ways of how the information generated can shed light on the future.  It was felt that the information must “form new critical thinking about governance and development planning.” It should also catalyze intellectual debate and be relevant to Africa’s future development among other outcomes.

Discussions also focused on financing of process in the realm of governance and the priority given by financing decisions.  Debates also queried the need for space to engage with non-funding institutions and how the results obtained from country review exercises can influence funding priorities if at all.

Issues of transparency and accountability and the voice of civil society in articulating a transformative emerged as critical to the process of discerning a possible future for the APRM.

"APRM’s 10th Anniversary celebrations coupled with the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Organisation of African Unity/African Union (OAU/AU) gives us the opportunity to look back with a view to interrogating and projecting a future for the mechanism in addressing governance issues of the day. This is with a view to better profiling the African Peer Review Mechanism, finding synergies and inter-linkages especially with other organs and structures of the AU," underscored the forum.

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