AFRICAN UNION’S ROAD MAP: NEW COOPERATION AVENUES

upa-admin 05 Ağustos 2015 3.113 Okunma 0
AFRICAN UNION’S ROAD MAP: NEW COOPERATION AVENUES

Summit of the African Union in Johannesburg (South Africa) was one of the most productive meetings of the African leaders in the recent years. A significant leap forward was made, in terms of the continent’s integration that brings Africa closer to transforming into a single subject of the international relations. The African Union’s Agenda 2063 has received primary attention. It envisages development of Africa on all fronts, but the priority is the economic independence, and one cannot ignore tremendous economic progress the AU countries have made in the recent times.

The number of other high-level meetings were held simultaneously with AU Summit. The meeting of the heads of state of the ‘New Partnership for Africa’s Development’ (NEPAD) member nations deserves particular attention. NEPAD is a program that has often been called the ‘Program of African Renaissance’. The Government of South Africa, under the leadership of the South Africa’s previous President Thabo Mbeki, developed and presented it as a plan for socioeconomic and cultural rebirth of Africa. The ousting of President Mbeki (with the leading role of foreign powers) was largely associated with this plan. Within the NEPAD, the South Africa, oversees South-North Corridor’ that traverses twelve countries of the Black Continent (Tanzania, Congo, Malawi, SAR, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt). The economic projects within this corridor include construction of railways, bridges, seaports and energy infrastructure.

There is another summit worthy of mentioning – the meeting of the heads of state of Africa’s three international organizations – the South African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). That meeting saw the signing of the tripartite agreement on the establishment of the free trade zone between the member-states of these organizations (Tripartite Free Trade Area). The treaty would cover almost thirty nations with the population of some 625 million people and a combined GDP of $1.6 trillion.

The treaty would be yet another step in bolstering intra-African trade and thus, shaping Africa as a single economic entity. Four years-long negotiations preceded the signing of this agreement. At the June Summit of the African Union, the parties have agreed to launch the talks on the conclusion of the Africa-wide FTA.  The African nations have also expressed their willingness to forge a common aviation market. In his speech, the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta particularly highlighted the trend of Africa gaining economic self-sufficiency. During the session of the Summit, he called upon the member-states of the African Union to reject the foreign aid completely.

Many questions remain, however, that spark fierce debate among the African leaders. One of such issues is the UN Security Council reform. The African Union reached a consensus on this issue in 2005. The document called ‘Ezulwini Consensus’ foresees Africa’s approval of the UN reform under the condition that the continent would be granted two permanent and five non-permanent seats in the Security Council. It was expected that South Africa and Nigeria would fill in the permanent member seats. According to some sources, during the June Summit, President Mugabe of Zimbabwe had strong objections to their candidatures. He stated that Zimbabwe would never agree that Africa be represented by the two nations that voted in favor of the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 on Libya in 2011, adding that these nations representing Africa had already lost their credibility.

The long-time decision of the African Union on non-recognition of legitimacy of the governments that attained power through unconstitutional means is also raising many questions. The key problem is that if in some cases the unconstitutional regimes are subjected to friendly ostracism, in other instances, the ‘international community’ turns a blind eye to the most violent coups. For example, a silent coup in Mauritania in 2012 provoked a storm of indignation and suspension of the country’s membership in the AU. Whereas the bloody coup in Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), when the incumbent A. Ouattara came to power assisted by the French military storming the presidential palace, saw no objection.

Hypocrisy in dealing with the principal of constitutionality of power sometimes defies absurdity. In Burundi for example, the court ruled that the incumbent President P. Nkurunziza is eligible for seeking third office term. The constitutional ruling somehow sparked outrage, both in the AU headquarters and the member-states – an apparent meddling into the domestic affairs of a sovereign state.

Finally, let us not forget the biggest international scandal of the Summit – attendance of Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court since 2009. The ICC since then threatens every nation that grants access to Al-Bashir. This time around, it was South Africa’s turn. As usual, the NGO’s that filed the claim demanding the Government of South Africa to arrest the President of Sudan ‘took care’ of everything. The court hearing lasted a couple of hours and the verdict was to grant the claim. This unprecedented move testifies that there are sound mechanisms in South Africa that place it under the regime of global governance.

The court had no legal grounds for the arrest of Sudan’s President. All the talk about South Africa being ‘obliged to cooperate’ with the ICC is nothing but hot air because even an aspiring lawyer knows that the term ‘cooperation’ and ‘arrest’ are hardy the synonyms. It is also obvious that judges realized the absurdity of the verdict, given that even the arrest of a common suspect at the request of the foreign and international judicial bodies cannot happen automatically. The state entities of the country concerned, examine the details of the case and only then take a decision on extraditing (or rejecting the extradition) of a certain individual.  Yet, the local human rights activists flooded the TV channels in South Africa, while the court was so bewildered that it promised to announce the legal justification of the verdict in the upcoming week…

The South Africa, nonetheless, deserves a credit; it ensured implementation of not bogus, but genuine international obligations that among others, includes the respect of immunity of a foreign head of state invited to participate in the international organization’s session. President Al-Bashir of Sudan departed the country an hour before the court announced its ruling on his arrest.

Overall, the Johannesburg Summit of the African Union demonstrated that regardless of quite significant differences within the AU and the Western pressure, this continental international organization is moving along the path of integration of the member-states aimed at achieving economic independence. Let there be no doubt that this would provoke further pressure upon the African nations across all fronts. Africa faces a challenge that is commensurate with the one it encountered while achieving political independence.

Elmira HUSEYNOVA

PhD in History

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