Can the regional economic communities support implementation of the African Governance Architecture (AGA)? The case of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)

Originally published as discussion paper by the European Centre for Development PolicyManagement (ECPDM)

The African Governance Architecture (AGA) and African Governance Platform were established in 2011 bythe 16th ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU).Launched as an effort Òtowards greater unity and integration through shared valuesÓ, the AGA is a pan- African political, institutional, and collaborative framework for promotion of good governance on the Africancontinent. The AGA framework has so far been developed and led by the AU Commission. However, asimplementation has accelerated, several questions have arisen with respect to the roles of other actors inensuring the AGAÕs successful operationalisation. For instance, what role could the regional economiccommunities (RECs) play in order to ÔtransposeÕ and tailor some of the AGAÕs ambitions to the regionallevel?What is the AGAÕs relationship with the RECs? How deeply are the RECs involved in theconceptualisation, development, and implementation of the AGA? How could relations between the AGAand African Governance Platform and the RECs be improved to effectively implement the AGA? Above all,what are the views of the RECs on the AGA as an instrument to promote governance in the region? Do theRECs consider themselves adequately positioned and capable of implementing elements of the AGA?These questions become even more urgent when considering the potential linkages that could be created between the AGA and the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the possible role that theRECs might play. In this respect,the AGA framework document (2014) notes: The AGA Platform provides a bridge for coordination, joint programming and interventions by the two architectures [AGA and APSA] insituations that require a consolidated response from the AU and RECs.Ó The questions raised pose basic,fundamental, and strategic concerns regarding the relations between the AU and RECs and the synergies between the APSA and the AGA.

Within this context, ECDPM has sought to produce a series of studies assessing the level of readiness,both institutional and political, of the RECs to take up the governance agenda as set out in the AGA framework. The study presented here examines IGAD and its work on the governance agenda as a case in point to help us to understand the current state of the AGA in the region. It responds to questions such as what successes have been achieved thus far, and what challenges do the AGA and RECs face in promoting the African governance agenda. The IGAD region was chosen due to the particular challenges it confronts in the governance, peace and security nexus. IGAD’s active engagement in mediations and peace-support operations (e.g., in South Sudan, Sudan, and Somalia) are naturally, if not primarily,entangled with governance concerns.The case of IGAD also lends itself to distilling some conclusions about potential linkages between peace and security and governance at the regional level.

This study is presented in five chapters. The first introduces the governance agenda and the AGA, highlighting the current state of governance but also of peace and security in the IGAD region and how governance and peace and security relate. Chapter 1 looks at the priority given to governance and to peace and security, particularly on the AU political agenda, concluding that governance has occupied a secondary place, behind peace and security. Some of the factors that have determined this order of priorities are identified, as well as some trends that may be changing this. Furthermore, the breadth of the concept of governance is explored, alongside the AU charters and instruments that address governance,especially those pertaining to the IGAD region. Finally, the AGA is introduced, touching upon the AGA’s relevance for Africa’s RECs, particularly IGAD.

Chapter 2 looks at IGAD from two perspectives: as a region and as a regional economic community. Its history, mandate, and priorities are identified and discussed, along with IGAD’s institutional setup, policyorgans, and secretariat. The IGAD Political Affairs Programme (PAP) under its Peace and Security Division(PSD) is discussed in more detail, including its change of nomenclature from Political and Humanitarian Affairs to Peace and Security. Moreover, IGAD’s overall mandate and its structural and resource-related challenges are examined. Finally, IGAD’s partners and mechanism for partnership are briefly introduced. IGAD started out as a regional response mechanism to address the twin problems of desertification and drought. Even after its mandate was expanded in 1996, it still did not explicitly include governance. IGAD activities have been most prominent in the sectors of agriculture, environmental degradation and climate change, and peace and security. IGAD’s involvement in the state of governance in the region has been indirect. Like the AU, IGAD has not addressed governance as a key agenda topic. Chapter 3 looks at how the IGAD structure has helped it to avoid many of the turf wars between political affairs and peace and security divisions that have affected the AU and the United Nations (UN). Nonetheless, increased IGAD-led mediation and peace-support operations, alongside trends including the development of a draft IGAD protocol on governance, suggest that governance is becoming a higher priority in IGAD programming. This chapter looks at two draft policy documents currently under consideration within IGAD that hint at progress towards a more robust governance-related mandate for the institution. These two policy documents are the draft IGAD protocol on democracy, governance, and elections (henceforth protocol on governance) and the draft revised treaty on IGAD as an institution. The protocol on governance is compared to the Addis Charter, in which most provisions are similarly formulated. Finally, the unfortunate failure of the IGAD Forum for Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organisations is discussed.

Chapter 4 examines barriers to the IGAD governance agenda and ways in which IGAD and the AGA could break down these obstacles. Several of the main barriers are the longstanding animosity and history of mistrust among the IGAD member states; the sensitivities associated with political and governance issues,which are considered domestic affairs; and the low perceived efficacy of governance as a structural conflict prevention tool. Inhibitors internal to IGAD are also discussed, related to resources as well as to organisational structure. Institutional challenges associated with the AU and AGA’s relationship with IGAD are examined, also considering that many of these apply equally to the AU’s interactions with other African RECs. These challenges include the mono-directionality of AU-REC relations, blame games played between the AU and RECs, and lack of a clear definition of what being a building block entails in terms of rights and duties. The principle of subsidiarity is often spoken of, but it is far from being commonly practised in the relationship between the AU and RECs. Some successful initiatives are introduced in this chapter, such as the AU’s Agenda 2063, which could provide lessons for improving some of difficulties experienced thus far in AU-REC relations. Specific to the AGA, the chapter concludes that there is a pressing need to address deficiencies in communication and participation and in the conceptualisation and legal standing of the RECs vis-a-vis the AU. As the principle of subsidiarity is becoming increasingly prominent in the conversation between the RECs and the AU, the AGA is encouraged to apply this principle in all of its engagements with the RECs. This implies allocating tasks and resources taking into consideration the RECs proximity, local expertise, and legitimacy in the regions. Finally, the chapter suggests that IGAD may offer the best opportunity for the AGA to build its REC outreach and test its approach.

By way of conclusion, Chapter 5 considers the role that IGAD and the AGA could play in transforming IGAD member states from being a primary source of challenges to governance in Africa into drivers of the good governance agenda. For this, the AGA will need to be employed as a mechanism for buildingcapacities and reform behaviours of states. The chapter also presents recommendations based on anlysis. One of these is the suggestion to develop joint projects between the AGA Secretariat andIGADÕs Political Affairs Programme (PAP) as part of an action plan for swift ratification and implementationof the draft IGAD protocol on governance. The second recommendation is to develop procedures forregular reporting on governance by the RECs, with these reports then serving as a basis for a continentalÔstate of governanceÕ report. Building on the existing good relations between the AU and IGAD, strategic-level engagement between the AUÕs Department of Political Affairs and IGADÕs PAP could render the AU-IGAD relation a model for other RECs and initiatives to follow.

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