Thursday, May 8, 2008



Sierra Leone:
By Tanu Jalloh

In December of 2007, I was one of fifteen senior journalists and editors invited to Accra from across West Africa to discuss the African Peer Review Mechanism, APRM; an integral part of the continent's New Partnership for Africa's Development, NEPAD. As media persons we had also looked at the importance of reporting Africa, detailing without bias the responsibility of governments, civil society groups and the private sector to enhance sustainable corporate governance.

Unlike in Ghana where a government could establish a separate ministry to implement or oversee the APRM in March 2003, Sierra Leone has the ministry of presidential affairs as its focal point. No wonder just two years after it acceded to the MOU Ghana could present a consolidated report including its plan of action in the years that followed. Against this backdrop, I have decided to let the public; the government and the minister of presidential affairs, Alhaji Alpha Kanu to know that there is need to live up to the 2003 Abuja treaty establishing the APRM.

The APRM, to which this country has committed itself in July 2004, is a mutually agreed instrument voluntarily acceded to by member states of the AU as a self-monitoring mechanism. Its mandate is to encourage conformity in regard to political, economic and corporate governance values, codes and standards, among African countries and the objectives in socio-economic development within the NEPAD.

The 37th Summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which later became the African Union (AU) held in July 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia, adopted a document setting out a new vision for the revival and development of Africa -- which was to become known as the NEPAD.

In July 2002, the Durban AU summit supplemented NEPAD with a Declaration on democracy, political, economic and corporate governance. According to the Declaration, states participating in NEPAD 'believe in just, honest, transparent, accountable and participatory government and probity in public life'.

Accordingly, they 'undertake to work with renewed determination to enforce', among other things, the rule of law; the equality of all citizens before the law; individual and collective freedoms; the right to participate in free, credible and democratic political processes; and adherence to the separation of powers, including protection for the independence of the judiciary and the effectiveness of parliaments.

The Declaration also committed participating states to establish an APRM to promote adherence to and fulfillment of its commitments. The Durban summit adopted a document setting out the stages of peer review and the principles by which the APRM should operate.

In March 2003, the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee, meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, adopted a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the APRM.
This MOU effectively operates as a treaty; it came into effect immediately with the agreement of six countries to be subject to its terms. Those countries that do not accede to the document are not subject to review. The March 2003 meeting also adopted a set of 'objectives, standards, criteria and indicators' for the APRM. The meeting agreed to the establishment of a secretariat for the APRM and the appointment of a seven-person 'panel of eminent persons' to oversee the conduct of the APRM process and ensure its integrity.


The APRM is a voluntary mechanism open to any AU country. A country formally joins the APRM upon depositing the signed MOU of March 9, 2003 at the NEPAD Secretariat.
As of February 2008, 29 countries had formally joined the APRM by signing the MOU on the APRM. Algeria, Burkina Faso, Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya signed the MOU in March 2003; Cameroon, Gabon and Mali in April and May 2003; Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Egypt and Benin in March 2004; Malawi, Lesotho, Tanzania, Angola and Sierra Leone in July 2004; Sudan and Zambia in January 2006; Sao Tome and Principe in January 2007; Djibouti in July 2007 and Mauritania in January 2008. This is more than half of the AU's 53 countries.


The APRM process is based on a "self-assessment" questionnaire developed by the APR Secretariat. It is divided into four sections: democracy and political governance, economic governance and management, corporate governance, and socio-economic development.

Its questions are designed to assess states' compliance with a wide range of African and international human rights treaties and standards. The questionnaire was formally adopted in February 2004, in Kigali, Rwanda, by the first meeting of the APR Forum, made up of representatives of the heads of state or government of all states participating in the APRM.

Before the questionnaire was adopted and after the initial plans for the APRM were laid down by South Africa and others, some press reports stated that, after pressure from other African countries like Nigeria and Libya, Thabo Mbeki changed his mind and did not want political governance to be included within the APRM reviews.

According to the reports, Mbeki believed that review of political governance was something for the African Union. Jean Chrétien, then president of the G8, sent a letter to Mbeki demanding clarifications and expressing his concern that these AU organs are 'politicized' and will therefore not produce credible reviews. In a public letter Mbeki denied the charges and stated that countries would voluntarily subject themselves to review of all aspects of good governance, including political, under the APRM, but that other AU institutions might be more appropriate to deal with some issues.

APR Forum

This is the Committee of the Heads of State and Government of the countries voluntarily participating in the APRM. It is the highest decision-making body and could be considered like the board of directors which has the final say over the whole process. They appoint the APR Panel, look after the funding, discuss the country reports, apply the peer pressure and transmit the reports to the relevant AU structures.

APR Panel

This can be considered as the management or the executive of the APRM that directs and manages its operations. They are 'appointed to oversee the review process to ensure the integrity of the process, to consider review reports and to make recommendations to the APR Forum'. According to the base document, and repeated in the Organization and Processes document, its precise mission and duties however are supposed to be outlined in a Charter, which will also spell out reporting arrangements to the APR Forum . However, more than three years after the installation of the Panel, this Charter has still not been written.

The panel consists of 7 eminent persons of 'high moral stature and demonstrated commitment to the ideals of Pan Africanism' who, moreover, have 'expertise in the areas of political governance, macro-economic management, public financial management and corporate governance'. Its composition should also reflect a regional, gender and cultural balance. The panel members are nominated by the participating countries, short listed by a Committee of Ministers, appointed by the APR Forum and serve for up to four years (five for the chairman).

Each country to be reviewed is assigned to one of the seven eminent persons, who consider and review reports, and make recommendations to the APR Forum. As of July 2006, the seven 'eminent persons' were: Marie Angelique Savane (Senegal), Chairperson; Adebayo Adedeji (Nigeria); Bethuel Kiplagat (Kenya); Graca Machel (Mozambique); Mohammed Babes (Algeria, replacing the original Algerian appointee, Mourad Medelci); Dorothy Njeuma (Cameroon); and Chris Stals (South Africa).
APR Secretariat

The Secretariat provides 'the secretarial, technical, coordinating and administrative support services for the APRM'. It is 'supervised directly by the Chairperson of the APR Panel at the policy level and in the day-to-day management and administration by an Executive Officer'. The Secretariat is based in Midrand, South Africa, not far from the NEPAD secretariat.

APR Country Review Team

They are appointed by the APR Panel, one of whose members heads the team, and are 'constituted only for the period of the country review visit'. Their composition is 'carefully designed to enable an integrated, balanced, technically competent and professional assessment of the reviewed country'.

APR focal point

This is a national mechanism set up by a participating country in order to play a communication and co-ordination role. It should serve, as Ayesha Kajee puts it, 'as the liaison between national structures and continental ones such as the APR Secretariat and the APR Panel'. It should also, in conjunction with the National Co-ordinating mechanism, 'develop, co-ordinate and implement the in-country mechanisms of preparing for peer review and hosting the country review team during the review visit'. The precise form of the Focal point is left to the country's discretion, but according to the APR Forum, it 'should be at Ministerial level or a High-Level Official reporting directly to the Head of State or Government and with access to all national stakeholders'.

National co-ordinating structure

Here the actual implementation of the APRM at the national level happens. The country's self-assessment happens here by conducting, as the MOU mandates, 'broad-based and all-inclusive' consultation of key stakeholders in the public and private sectors. In addition, together with the Focal point it should 'develop co-ordinate and implement the in-country mechanisms of preparing for peer review and hosting the country review team during the review visit'. As with the Focal point, countries have discretion as to how this is implemented.

Look out for part II on the APRM and the need for Sierra Leone to be peer reviewed. Get the opportunity to understand the review process, the preliminary phase or support mission and the stages we expect Sierra Leone to go through if it must become the successful democratic state we are looking forward to celebrate at 50.


“…the NEPAD Framework Document and the Declaration identity, among others, democracy and good political governance as preconditions and foundations of sustainable development and the eradication of poverty. The overall objective is to consolidate a constitutional political order in which democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law, separation of powers and effective, responsive public service are realised to ensure sustainable development and a peaceful and stable society,"

NEPAD/HSGIC-03-2003/APRM/OSCI, 9 March 2003

The above quote has been adopted by the ‘APRM Country Review Report and Programme of Action of the Republic of Ghana, January 2006’ to introduce its Chapter 2, which talks about democracy and political governance.

In the first part of this piece titled: Sierra Leone: Why Peer Review (Part I), I explained what APRM is. But for the purpose of emphasis, let me reiterate here that the APRM, to which Sierra Leone committed itself since July 2004, is a mutually agreed instrument voluntarily acceded to by member states of the AU as a self-monitoring mechanism.

Perhaps, better explained in the words of former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, then chairperson for the APRM Forum: "The APRM provides an opportunity for the systematic assessment of the performance of a state by its peers with the ultimate goal of helping it to adopt best practices, improve its policy making process and comply with established standards and principles. In the final analysis, this will enhance political stability and socio-economic development the APRM should not be interpreted as a score card of a pass or fail nature, or as a new conditionality for donor assistance. Rather, it is an instrument for continuous improvement of national policies and rebuilding a consensus among all stakeholders."

I have chosen to start this second part of my article by looking at the review process, preliminary phase or 'Support Mission.' However, let me hasten to state here that I have deliberately restricted the contents of both parts I & II of my article to explaining the APRM process. This is ultimately to attract appreciation. Ideally, no sooner people, indeed the government and related establishments, understood the process than I could concentrate on Sierra Leone, including its determination to be peer reviewed.

Meanwhile, there is already a country support mission, which primary purpose is to 'ensure a common understanding of the philosophy, rules, and processes of the APRM' and to help countries who need support with 'aspects of the national processes'. In essence, the media only complement its efforts. The guidelines further specify what the former might mean, namely help with 'institutional and organizational arrangements for involving major stakeholders' in the review process, with the development of a realistic Programme of Action (POA) and with expertise not readily available in the country. In order to do this they will meet with the authorities in the country responsible for the APR process (for instance the ministry of presidential and public affairs in Sierra Leone) and with representatives of all the major stakeholders.

Stage one

The first stage is preparatory for both the APR Secretariat and the national authorities. For example, Sierra Leone has to answer a detailed questionnaire, on the basis of which a self-assessment is completed.

The APRM Secretariat for its part will make a background study of the country's governance and development. After this has been shared with the country and other partner institutions and after the self-assessment has been made, the country in question will issue a draft POA. In the development of this POA, the participation of all stakeholders must be ensured, 'including trade unions, women, youth, civil society, private sector, rural communities and professional associations'.

In the POA, it will suggest a time-bound framework for implementing the Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance. After the Programme of Action and questionnaire have been submitted to the APR Secretariat, the Secretariat will draw up an Issues Paper. It is possible that on the basis of this paper the Secretariat will decide that certain issues need a more in-depth assessment ('Technical assessments') before that stage two is initiated. If there are Technical Assessments, these can lead to the update of the Issues Paper and possibly the Programme of Action. The APRM Secretariat also makes a suggestion to the APR Panel regarding the composition of the Country Review team.

Stage two

In the second stage the review team will visit the country and 'carry out the widest possible range of consultations with the government, officials, political parties, parliamentarians and representatives of civil society organizations (including the media, academia, trade unions, business, professional bodies)'.

Stage three

In the third stage, the draft report is compiled. This report is based on the findings of the review team during their visit, the background research the APR Secretariat has made and on the Issues paper compiled by the APR Secretariat. The draft is then discussed with the government concerned. These discussions are meant 'to ensure the accuracy of the report and to provide the Government with an opportunity both to react to the APR Team's findings and to put forward it's own views on how the identified shortcomings may be addressed'. The report is supposed to evaluate a country's performance by taking into account the commitments made in the draft Programme of Action. It will also state what the remaining weaknesses are and recommend further action for the final Programme of Action.

Stage four

The review team's report and the final Programme of Action compiled by the Government, is sent to the APR Secretariat and the APR Panel. Then the report is submitted to the APR Forum of participating heads of state and government for consideration and formulation of actions deemed necessary.

It is at this stage that the actual 'peer pressure' is applied if necessary. Here the full quotation of the APRM base document is in its place. For instance if the Government of the Sierra Leone shows a demonstrable will to rectify the identified shortcomings, then it will be incumbent upon participating Governments to provide what assistance they can, as well as to urge donor governments and agencies also to come to the assistance of the country.

'However, if the necessary political will is not forthcoming from the Government, the participating states should first do everything practicable to engage it in constructive dialogue, offering in the process technical and other appropriate assistance. If dialogue proves unavailing, the participating Heads of State and Government may wish to put the Government on notice of their collective intention to proceed with appropriate measures by a given date. The interval should concentrate the mind of the Government and provide a further opportunity for addressing the identified shortcomings under a process of constructive dialogue. All considered such measures should always be utilized as a last resort.' This is exactly what some of us are concerned about.

Stage five

According Paragraph 25 of the base document the report 'should be formally and publicly tabled in key regional and sub-regional structures such as the Pan-African Parliament, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, the [ ] Peace and Security Council (PSC) [inaugurated in May 2004], and the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) of the African Union.' This is when the report will be publicly made available.

After the review

A country is then supposed to implement its Programme of Action. Implicit in the whole APRM formula is that foreign donors would kick in here and bear some, if not a large part, of the cost connected to the implementation of this plan of action that is supposed to improve the identified shortcomings in governance.

After this base review is concluded, a periodic review should follow every two to four years.

Perhaps the third and final part of this article would be published by early next week. By which time I would have joined our readership to explore the reasons for Sierra Leone to be peer reviewed almost five years after it sworn to do so.