Jun 27, 2016 (The New Times/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) — As the build-up for the countdown of the 27th African Union Summit to be held in Kigali continues, it’s quite important to look back to some of the organisation’s commendable achievements in recent years.
Just last week, I was interviewed by Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) on some of the achievements of the AU since it changed its name from Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to African Union in 2002, which, of course, prompted me to write this piece.
Of course, change of the name itself doesn’t entail change in a real sense. However, it became a watershed moment for African leaders to proactively shore up the AU to live, more meaningfully, up to its core obligation.
Change of the name alone is merely symbolic. It’s not the only intergovernmental organization that changed the name, but also the European Economic Community (EEC) did change its name and became the European Union (EU).
What matters most isn’t about change of the name, but rather commitment to common cause. In fact, no single organization has ever been credited for its name, but it can only be commended for tangible actions that address societal challenges.
Since AU got this new name, it has made some remarkable achievements, especially in the interest of peace and security across the continent.
The most recent example, as noted in one of my previous articles, is the establishment of the Extraordinary African Chambers, which was jointly created by AU and Senegalese Government to prosecute the former Chadian leader, Hissene Habre, who was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in jail in a landmark trial in Senegal.
This signifies that AU is committed to combating the reign of impunity. No sanctuary for perpetrators of abhorrent international crimes on the continent.
championsthe observance of democratic rule on the continent. Similarly, AU designated Kofi Annan who led fruitful mediation in Kenya’s disputed post-election violence of 2007-208, which led to power-sharing.
Besides, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), a regional peacekeeping mission operating under the auspices of the African Union thoughapproved by the United Nations, was created to bring peace and security in Somalia, especially in major towns, including Mogadishu.
AMISOM has helped push Al-shabab out of most of Somalia’s major towns. The following countries contributed troops to AMISOM: Uganda 6,223, Burundi 5,432, Ethiopia 4,395, Kenya 3,664 and Djibouti 2,000. AU‘s role here is unhesitatingly commendable, although the militants continue to mount deadly suicide bombings and guerrilla attacks in some areas.
The Mali crisis was another situation in which the AU intervened on humanitarian grounds prior to handing over the power to the UN. At the onset of military crisis, AU deployed African-led Intervention Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) which was subsequently replaced by the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), a UN peacekeeping mission.
Since most crises Africa face are political in nature, it is noteworthy that the AU has adopted the principle of ‘humanitarian intervention’ under the Responsibility to Protect discourse.
Additionally, the Security Council, by its resolution 2127 (2013)of 5 December, authorized an AU-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) and French-backed peacekeeping force to quell the spiralling violence in that country.
Here, AU intervened immediately to restore peace and security. Obviously, this was a laudable undertaking to save the lives of civilians. Also, for Burundi crisis, AU made an attempt but Burundi rejected it vehemently.
As the AU Summit intends to focus on human rights, particularly women’s rights, preventing and addressing political crisis on the continent should be at the forefront because it’s the greatest threat of human rights. Of course, Africa faces a myriad of problems which affect human rights in general but political upheaval is the most predominant.
AU has taken also commendable steps to adopt AU Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection as well as protocol merging the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR)also to have a criminal jurisdiction over international crimes, and creation of African Standby Force, which are yet to be operationalized due to lack of minimum ratifications.
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