Addis Ababa, 28 January 2018
Good morning. It is important that we are meeting together once again, and I thank you for the attention you continue to give to this process.
I would also like to thank our current Chairperson, President Alpha Condé, and his predecessor, President Idriss Déby, as well as the current and previous Chairpersons of the Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat and Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, for bringing us to this point.
The purpose of this session is to consult with each other in advance of taking some important decisions at this Summit. I shared my report with you by letter earlier this month.
Let me focus on a few key points. It is important to recall that this reform was not forced on us by anyone. The choice arose from necessity. The need to implement the changes urgently and carefully is therefore self-evident.
I am pleased to report, that the Commission is acting with the necessary speed and diligence. If we have felt empowered to keep pushing forward, it is because the will of Africa’s leaders has been clear and steady across the last five Summits, beginning with 2015 Johannesburg decision on self-financing.
As the Commission’s Implementation Report demonstrates, the reform of the African Union is no longer a wish list. It is real, it is irreversible, and it is already making a difference, even as debate and argumentation continue.
However, the process does not run on auto-pilot. It remains the responsibility of Heads of State. It is therefore up to us to continue making the decisions required to achieve the outcomes we want.
I would like to put some proposals to you for consideration.
First, the Commission, in collaboration with NEPAD, have developed thoughtful proposals for NEPAD’s integration into the African Union as the development arm, as well as the modalities of its functioning.
However, I foresee the need for additional consultations and I would like to suggest that we conclude discussion of NEPAD at the next Summit.
Second, I suggest that we should hold an Ordinary Summit in July of this year, as well.
I have three points in mind. One, the Assembly has, in any case, already invited Mauritania to do so. Two, the rapid pace of the implementation timetable requires the full attention of all leaders this year. Last, additional work is required to design an appropriate format for effective regional coordination meetings. The shift to the new system would therefore commence in 2019.
Third, if there is no objection, I suggest we adopt the proposal to expand the “troika” formula to encompass the Bureau representing all five of our regions.
The principle behind the “troika” concept was to ensure continuity by electing the incoming Chairperson one year in advance, and that will continue to be the case. The five-member Bureau would also assist me in supervising reform implementation going forward.
Fourth, regarding the level of representation at Summits, I would suggest that we are in a position to formalise the consensus reached at our last session in July 2017.
Specifically, in addition to Vice Presidents and Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers may also represent their Heads of State at our Summits in conformity with the Vienna Convention. However, delegation should be the exception rather than the norm because these are intended to be Summits for consultation among Heads of State and Government.
Finally, to address the chronic crisis of implementation in our organisation, the Assembly mandated me to make recommendations on a mechanism for ensuring that legally-binding decisions are implemented.
The proposed mechanism has three distinct elements, which are described in detail in the Chairperson’s Implementation Report.
Step one is to improve the quality of decision-making. Each decision should be properly categorised at the time of adoption and its resource implications made explicit. This is not currently the case.
Decisions should also be taken at the appropriate level: Assembly for policy and strategy decisions, and Executive Council for operational matters.
This housekeeping must also be performed on the large number of previous decisions, so we know where we stand. The capacity of the Office of Legal Counsel will have to be strengthened accordingly.
Step two is for the Commission to closely monitor implementation and issue regular progress reports. This is essential for the efficient management of African Union business. The Bureau of the Chairperson will need additional capacity, and Member States need to play their part by designating National Focal Points.
Step three is the application of penalties for non-compliance. However, in my view, it would be premature to determine these before putting the decision-making and monitoring processes into better order.
I therefore recommend we adopt the first two components of the mechanism at this Summit.
In a year’s time, the Assembly may evaluate the results and complete consultations on appropriate sanctions and penalties.
With regard to the Financing Decisions, I would like to underscore that there is built-in flexibility to accommodate existing obligations or the different characteristics of our economies. The Commission continues to provide technical support upon request.
Twenty-one Member States are already implementing the 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports. I know that several more have indicated their intention to proceed.
This has already enhanced Africa’s capabilities in concrete terms. Currently, our Peace Fund has registered the highest level of Member State contributions since it was established in 1993. As a result, the African Union is in a position to quickly respond to emergency situations as we see fit, without first approaching donors to seek funds and, by implication, permission.
Allow me to close with a frank observation. There is certainly not going to be respect for those who won’t keep their commitments or pay their own bills.
We cannot afford to spend our limited time together focused on process, when the high-priority outcomes we unanimously endorse remain out of reach.
Our citizens are watching closely. They hunger to feel proud of African institutions that are functional and deliver results. Let’s act decisively, beat low expectations, and use the momentum gained to do more.
We have lost a lot of time. But I am confident that we will ultimately be successful, because the resolve of Africa’s leaders to complete this work has not wavered.
Brothers and sisters, I sincerely thank you, and I am happy to hand these matters back to you for deliberation, right after we hear the very important presentation by Chairperson Moussa.