APRM Programme: Third EISA Symposium generates renewed civil society interest in APRM

Updated November 2008

EISA Symposium 2008

EISA held its third Annual Symposium under the theme Strengthening Democratic Governance through the African Peer Review Mechanism: A Civil Society Dialogue. The Symposium was held in Mozambique on 21-22 October 2008. This continental dialogue forum was convened 3 days before the Extraordinary African Union Summit in Benin. At the Benin summit, institutional changes within the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the country reports of Nigeria and Burkina Faso were discussed.

The EISA Symposium drew together 94 representatives from key stakeholders in APRM National Focal Points, National Governing Councils, the continental APRM Secretariat, Technical Research Institutions and civil society organisations to discuss the importance and value of the APRM to Africa. It also reflected inputs from numerous APRM participant states from all of Africa’s geographic regions, the APRM Secretariat and government officials.

The symposium discussions generated a number of outputs, including

  • a brief statement at the conclusion of the Symposium,
  • a policy brief paper, and
  • a collection of the papers presented to be published in book format in 2009.

The Symposium also created space for dialogue between a small group of actively participating civil society organisations in the APRM at the continental level. This group convened a discussion culminating in the inauguration of a closed member information sharing exchange on pertinent APRM issues and debate.

Delegates recognised the positive impact the APRM has had in promoting discussion and debate on governance issues in Africa. The first six years of the mechanism’s existence have overcome serious challenges and obstacles to achieve this. However, concerns were noted regarding the future of the APRM, specifically in light of

  • the flux within the APR Forum (specifically the departure of President Obasanjo and President Mbeki from the AU stage),
  • the renewal and replacement of APR Panel of Eminent Persons members, and
  • the prevailing absence of a permanent Executive Director within the APR Secretariat in Midrand, South Africa.

Chairperson of the EISA Board

These issues do not constitute a real threat to the APRM, however there was also recognition by delegates that it has reached a pivotal juncture in its evolution and strong leadership at all levels is desirable in order to entrench the gains of the past six years and advance the cause of accountable and transparent governance into the future. In this regard, those organisations and individuals represented at the meeting affirmed their commitment to support the APRM at the national, regional and continental levels in whatever manner such assistance can be provided by civil society, and to actively engage with other civil society and government institutions to promote greater awareness and appreciation of the value the APRM provides.