Wednesday, February 9, 2011



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

February 10, 2011

The objectives of the African Union, as contained in the Lome Summit of 2000 were to achieve greater unity and solidarity between African countries and their people; defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its member states and to accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent.

The other noble objectives were to promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent; encourage international cooperation, taking into account the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to promote peace, security, and stability on the continent.

Other objectives included promoting democratic principles and institutions and good governance; protect all forms of peoples’ human rights and establish the necessary conditions which would enable the continent to play its rightful role during international negotiations.

As the AU strove to accomplish all the above objectives, it would attempt to promote sustainable economic, social and cultural activities as it worked to integrate African economies. It would promote cooperation among African states in all fields of human activity to raise the living standards of its peoples; harmonize policies between existing and future regional economic blocks for the gradual attainment of the objectives of the African Union government.

The adoption of the Lome resolution of 2000 was seen as the first step in making the African Union relevant to the demands of the 21st Century and to achieve the ultimate goal of a complete Union government.

Ten years down the line, the AU stands the chance of being more useless than its predecessor. It has hardly achieved any of the noble goals it set out for itself in Lome.

Attempts by Muammar Kaddafi of Libya and Abdullahi Wade of Senegal to fast-track the formation of the Union government have come to nothing.

After prolonged debates between pro-union states and gradualists, it would appear like the gradualists have had their way. Now the Union government hardly features on the agenda of the numerous AU conferences.

When the AU came into being, it was full of steam in its first two years. It was during the same period that it set for itself two of Africa’s best known initiatives that caught the world talking. At first is set up the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and from the start it looked like finally the continent had produced a common platform for engaging external partners from Europe, Asia and the Americas.

At first it seemed to work considering that the G8 was never complete without Ghana’s John Kuffuor, Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo and South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki.

During one of these G8 meetings in Gleneagles in the UK, the G8 even promised Africa US $ 50 billion to jumpstart its economic and infrastructure development. And indeed at that time, the NEPAD language was loaded with infrastructure development across Africa. We expected bullet trains from Cape to Cairo, Mombasa to Maputo, Dar es Salaam to Dakar and from Accra to Alexandria.

While on infrastructure, we expected super highways crisscrossing the continent similar to Germany’s autobahns or the USA Interstate super highways connecting its 50 states.

We expected the skies to be opened up to bring down the cost of air travel across the continent. We expected to no longer travel through Paris or London from Nairobi in order to find a connection to The Gambia or Morocco.

As the AU raised our hopes to fever pitch with promises of first world lifestyle in our times, it embarked on another ambitious plan to overhaul its governance and human rights image.

It told the world that from hence on, it would not be business as usual. It would deal with human rights violators and corrupt leaders that plundered their national economies.

To prove its seriousness it formed the African Peer Review Mechanism( APRM) as an activity under NEPAD to review the governance and human rights records of each of the 53 states over a period of time. And to show how serious the process was, a team of independent Eminent African Persons was put together to review the first countries that subscribed. Among the first states to be reviewed were Ghana, Rwanda and Kenya.

It was also at this time when nearly 33 African states signed the Rome Statutes that established the International Criminal Court to deal with Crimes against Humanity.

Nearly a decade later, both NEPAD and APRM no longer make news headlines. If anything, pioneer states like Kenya got worse after their review.

Now the big AU preoccupation is no longer how to better the lives of its people and protect them from human rights violations but to get out of the ICC by any means. Now Omar El Bashir can commit atrocities in Darfur and get the AU protection. Kenyan politicians can kill 1500 of their people and displace 600,000 of them and still get protection from the AU.

With this kind of record, Laurent Gbagbo can sit comfortably knowing that he can lose an election but still remain in power if the likes of Mugabe are the ones the AU has sent to get him out!