Statement by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on the occasion of the media briefing on the outcomes of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union
Good morning ladies and gentlemen,
In this briefing today, we will focus on the outcomes of the recent 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, which met for its beginning-of-the-year Summit at the Africa Union headquarters in Addis Ababa on 30 – 31 January 2016 under the theme: "2016, African Year of Human Rights, with a particular focus on Women’s Rights”.
Deliberations at the summit were on the following main issues:
1. UN Security Council Reform;
2. The state of peace and security on the continent, with particular focus on the situations in Burundi, South Sudan, Libya and the DRC;
3. The Summit also issued three political declarations namely on Palestine, Cuba, and an appeal to the United States to lift its sanctions on Sudan.
On the theme of the Summit, the 9th AU Gender Pre-Summit Meeting was held from 18 – 20 January 2016 with the objective of ensuring that women’s voices are captured in the main Summit as this is the second consecutive year that the AU theme for the year focuses on women.
Issues discussed during the deliberations included: harnessing the demographic dividend (Africa's population is predominantly youthful), women in the blue economy, women in peace and security, the impact of climate change on women and the financial inclusion of women.
A Special Summit of the Committee of Participating Heads of State and Government of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APR Forum) was held on 29 January 2016 and was preceded by a Meeting of the Committee of the APRM Focal Points on 28 January 2016. Some of the decisions of the Special Summit include:
1. The appointment of Prof. Edward Maloka, a South African, as the new CEO of the APRM Secretariat; 2. The extension, under the provisions of the Operating Procedures of the APRM, of the term of office for three members of the APR Panel of Eminent Persons whose four-year tenure had expired i.e. Dr Mustapha Mekideche (Chairperson) and panel members Ambassador Fatuma Ndangiza Nyirakobwa (Rwanda) and Ambassador Ashraf Rashed (Egypt).
The report of the APR Forum will be presented to the Assembly during the July 2016 Summit, which is planned to be hosted in Kigali, Rwanda.
The Assembly of Heads of State and Government adopted its Bureau, which is to be led by the President of Chad (Chairperson) with the First Vice Chairperson as the President of Benin, Second Vice Chairperson as the President of Rwanda, Third Vice Chairperson as the President of Libya and Rapporteur as the President of Zimbabwe.
The Assembly also adopted a decision on the report of the Commission on Governance, Constitutionalism and Elections in Africa. The following can be highlighted from the decision: The Assembly called on Member States to accelerate the signing, ratification, domestication and implementation of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) and the African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development; to prioritize the continued operationalization of the AU High Council of Local Authorities (AU-HCLA); to ensure professionalization and de-politicisation of the security establishment; to maintain zero-tolerance on military coups and other methods of unconstitutional changes of government; to ensure that constitutional amendments are done in accordance with the provisions of the ACDEG and the active participation of their citizens; to establish permanent, impartial and independent Constitutional Review Commissions whose mandate should be to oversee all constitutional amendments; amongst other matters.
On the domestication of Agenda 2063 and The 1st Ten-Year Implementation Plan, those Member States which have not yet done so were encouraged to start the domestication process. The AU Commission, Regional Economic Communities and all AU Organs and continental institutions were also requested to align their Strategic and Master Plans to the 1st Ten Year Implementation Plan and ensure maximum coordination in its implementation, in the spirit of complementarity and subsidiarity.
Member States were also encouraged to urgently develop a continental initiative on Critical Technical Skills, and to prioritise investments in the development of skills, especially in the areas of science and technology, essential for implementing Agenda 2063, including vocational skills and trade technicians, and the design and management of large-scale projects.
The AU reiterated its previous calls for the urgent reform of the UN Security Council, which was the central message highlighted by the outgoing Chairperson of the AU, H.E. Robert G. Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, as well as by the new Chairperson of the AU, H.E. Idriss Déby Itno of the Republic of Chad, during the opening of the Summit.
The Assembly Decision on the UN Security Council Reform recalled all its previous decisions on the matter and welcomed the UN General Assembly Decision 69/560 adopted by consensus to immediately continue with the intergovernmental negotiations’ informal plenary during the 70th session, building on the gains made as well as the informal meetings held during the 69th session.
The Assembly reaffirmed that “the Common African Position, as contained in the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration, shall continue to serve as the only viable option that reflects Africa’s legitimate right and aspiration to rectify, inter alia, the historical injustice endured by the Continent and called on all African Union Member States to continue to speak with one voice on all aspects of the question of equitable representation on the membership of the UN Security Council and related matters".
The AU welcomed the adoption of the new UN development agenda, titled: ‘Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, which is the result of consultations and inputs from member states of the UN and various bodies, including the AU.
Lastly, on the Paris Agreement (which is the outcome of the COP21 climate change summit adopted on 12 December 2015), the AU highlighted the African priorities for the Paris agreement which were: enhancing the implementation of the UNFCCC; provide parity between mitigation and adaptation and address all elements in a balanced manner; ensure adequate support for developing countries and reaffirm countries obligation to provide finance, technology transfer and capacity building for developing countries; and provide priority and flexibility for Africa.
As already indicated, the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU will be held mid-year in Kigali, Rwanda.
I thank you!