Pan African Parliament
Private Bag X16
Tel: +27 11 313 3716
Fax: +27 11 313 3684
E-mail: [email protected]
The Abuja Treaty of 1991 provides that the establishment of a Pan-African Parliament would ensure that the people of Africa are fully involved in the economic development and integration of the continent. This was further reinforced by Article 17 of the AU Constitutive Act. It is against this background that the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to the Pan-African Parliament was adopted on 2 March 2001 in Sirté, Libya and entered into force on INSERT DATE. Accordingly, the Pan African Parliament was inaugurated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in March 2004 as one of the organs of the African Union. The first Ordinary Session of the PAP took place in South Africa, the PAP’s permanent seat, in March 2005. The PAP holds two Ordinary Sessions per year. The Sessions are normally preceded by meetings of Committees dealing with a wide range of issues pertaining to the agenda of the PAP.
The establishment of the Pan-African Parliament was necessitated by the vision to provide a pan-continental platform for African parliamentarians to be more involved in discussions and decision-making regarding the problems and challenges facing the continent. In order to give practical expression to the imperative of ensuring the representation of the diverse peoples of the continent, Article 4 enjoins national parliaments forwarding members to the PAP to ensure that two of the five members of each of their delegations are members of opposition parties.
Members of the PAP have a term of five years in office. In its first term – from 2005 to 2009 – the PAP operates in an advisory capacity. This means that it discusses political and developmental matters pertaining to the continent and makes recommendations for implementation by various stakeholders, including AU organs, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and AU Member States. It is envisaged that, in its second term and beyond, the PAP will be transformed into a legislative body with powers to make continental laws. This, therefore, calls for the review of the PAP Protocol in order to facilitate the transformation.
In its current form, the PAP is a consultative and advisory body that investigates, deliberate, make recommendations and advocate positions on continental affairs. Importantly, the first term of the PAP is a period in which the PAP is expected to put in place the processes and administrative structures necessary to facilitate its full functioning. In this regard, the PAP has in 2004 adopted its Rules of Procedure that elaborates the nature and character of the PAP architecture.
Additionally, the PAP has developed and adopted a Programme of Action to guide its operations up to the end of its first term. Like other organs of the AU, the PAP is funded from assessed contributions made by Member States to the AU. Given the insufficiency of the funding it receives from the AU budget, the PAP has established a trust fund to solicit financial support from partners in the donor community. Furthermore, the AU Summit has decided that Member States should take responsibility for the financial needs of their members attending PAP Sessions.
Specifically, the Pan-African Parliament was established to:
Each AU Member State that has ratified the PAP Protocol is entitled to be represented by five parliamentarians. Such members are elected from national parliaments and are, therefore, expected to attend PAP Sessions.
The President is the presiding officer of the PAP and is elected from among members of the PAP during the first seating of each term. The role of the President is principally to facilitate deliberations of the PAP during Sessions and to serve as the political head of the PAP as well as to oversee the business of the continental Parliament.
In overseeing the affairs of the PAP, the President (who currently comes from East Africa) is assisted by four Vice Presidents who represent the rest of the continent’s sub-regions (North, South, West and Central Africa). The President and the four Vice Presidents constitute the Bureau of the PAP. The Bureau serves as the executive for the Pan African Parliament and is responsible for:
The President and members of PAP burea are currently as follows:
In order to efficiently and effectively deal with all maters pertaining to the agenda of the PAP, the work of the Parliament has been organised around Parliamentary Committees. Each Committee investigates; deliberates; develops reports; and make recommendations to PAP Sessions on matters falling within the purview of their mandate. A Committee elects, from among its members, a Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and Rapportuer to facilitate its business. The PAP has ten Committees, as enumerated below:
The PAP’s day-to-day administration is run by a Secretariat, which provides administrative support to the Bureau and the Committees. The Secretariat is headed by a Clerk who is assisted by two Deputy Clerks for Administrative and Legislative Affairs, respectively. As head of the Secretariat, the Clerk organises elections of the President and Vice Presidents, takes minutes of all proceedings of Parliament, including the Parliamentary Committees, and authenticates the votes and proceedings of each sitting by signature.
The Clerk and Deputy Clerks are currently as follows:
Figure 1: Basic Structure of PAP
In line with the Abuja Treaty of 1991, the Constitutive Act of the African Union provides for the establishment of the Pan-African Parliament as an important vehicle for facilitating the full participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of the continent (Article 17). This includes, among others, taking part in the promotion of peace and security on the African continent. It is for this reason that Article 18 of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) states that the PSC “shall maintain close relations with the Pan African Parliament in furtherance of peace, security and stability in Africa” and that it shall, whenever requested, submit reports to the Pan African Parliament, in order to facilitate the discharge of the PAP’s responsibilities.
Accordingly, the PAP has established the Permanent Committee on Co-operation, International relations and conflict resolution as an instrument to enable the Parliament to sharply deal with matters of peace and security. Deeply concerned by the resurgence and proliferation of armed conflicts in Africa, the committee forged a strategic partnership with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) to provide on-going background information regarding the peace and security situation on the continent – in order for the Committee, at all times, to be abreast of developments in this regard.
Since its establishment, the PAP has considered and made recommendations regarding a range of governance and conflict situations on the African continent. Resulting from recommendations of the Committee, the PAP has already dispatched observer-mission to countries experiencing conflicts. These include, a PAP Mission to the Darfur region in the Sudan (in 2005) as well as the PAP Mission to Chad (in 2006). PAP has been unable to send missions to other countries due to resource constraints.