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  • Writer's pictureIrungu Houghton

Four Questions Answered: Which are the most important AU treaties and why are they so important? Wha

By Irũngũ Houghton

Presentation to the 22 women and men Ambassadors playing for the union,

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The ten Instruments and four policy frameworks

  1. The African Youth Charter

  2. African Charter on Human and People’s Rights in Africa

  3. African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance

  4. African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

  5. African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

  6. African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption

  7. Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa

  8. Revised African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

  9. Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community

  10. Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Pan- African Parliament

  11. The African Health Strategy 2007-2015

  12. NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan (CAADP)

  13. Abuja Call for Accelerated Action towards Universal Access to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Services by 2010

  14. Maputo Plan of Action for the Operationalisation of the Continental Policy Framework for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights 2007-2010

 For more information on AU Treaties

What do they contain

  1. Twelve years of Government meetings at a cost of US$10 million to you and me

  2. A promise to Africa by our Heads of States

  3. Progressive concepts of peoples participation, rights, freedoms, responsibilities, opportunities and choices for all without discrimination

  4. Directives to states to disclose information,  to manage public monies responsibly, to involve citizens, to promote and protect the rights and freedoms the core of Government policy and budgets (10%agric 15%health, not defence)

  5. Standards for key political, economic and social rights (speak, be heard, be involved, elect or be elected freely, meet, move, ed, he, agri, maternal health, non-discrimination, peace)

  6. Standards for citizens to be educate themselves, act responsibly, vote, stand, be proactive citizens, manage the environment

 Yet, the Reality in Africa is

  1. More women in political and public office, children in schools, less conflict, more elections

  2. 7/10 fastest growing economies in the world in Africa yet, 360 million people live  in poverty and only 36 million earn more than US$10 a day

  3. Despite key social policy standards including the Dakar Framework for Action-Education For All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments (2000), the Abuja Declaration on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Other Related Infectious Diseases (2001), the Maputo Plan of Action for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights 2007-2010 (2006) and the Africa Health Strategy: 2007–2015, huge inequities exist between urban and rural, rich and poor people with ten of thousands in urban areas without security, water or sanitation.

  4. Two out of every five men and women die of infectious diseases, one in sixteen women die at child-birth and one in three children out of school.

  5. Since 1963, only twenty-five treaties out of the forty-two treaties adopted by African Governments have come into force.

  6. Mali, Rwanda, Niger, Libya, Senegal and Burkina Faso (in this order) have ratified the most instruments and the best performers (more than twenty-six ratifications)

  7. Sao Tome, Somalia, Eritrea, Saharawi Republic, Central Africa and Cape Verde have ratified the least instruments and the worst performers (less than ten ratifications)

  8. Of the three possible candidates for the Presidency of the African Union for 2012 namely, Benin, The Gambia and Niger, their Governments have ratified only 19, 22 and 28 Treaties respectively.

  9. Less than 30 Governments have ratified just one treaty over the period that it took to build the new African Union Commission headquarters. At this current rate, universal ratification of African Union treaties would not be complete before 2053, one hundred years after the formation of the AU’s predecessor the Organisation of African Unity.

  10. Although adopted by 26 Governments, the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan (2003) is yet to seriously impact on food security in Africa. 44 countries currently import 25% of their food needs and over 300 million people are denied the right to food. The recent price food hikes in 2011 pushed 28 million people further into poverty. Further, deforestation and climate change leave us no choice to adapt

 How could we together expand the space for the transformation of our homes, markets, workplaces, schools, hospitals, courts, elections, shops?

One powerful conversation, one powerful action is what matters…

What is Play for the Union?

Organised by the State of the Union coalition (, the Play for the Union campaign brings together over 20,000 people from all regions of Africa together to discuss and reflect on the type of continental integration that would make a difference for their lives and what matters to them. Utilising the opportunity of the Africa Cup of Nations, the Play for the Union campaign follows and documents the life stories of 22 men and women who love football and their continent. The 22 men and women have been selected by Patrick Mboma, Nkwankwo Kanu XXXX, world famous football personalities, from thousands of applicants across Africa. We shall follow their preparations for a unity match to be held in the margins of the AU Summit, Lilongwe, Malawi on July 11th 2012.

 The campaign is expected to raise the following issues and more;

  1. The challenges of being African on a disunited continent

  2. The huge gap between the context and reality of millions of peoples’ lives and the text in continental policies and treaties agreed by our Governments

  3. The importance of citizen’s participation in the development of the African Union

The Play for the Union popular mobilization campaign will give an opportunity for citizens to speak and act on the ideals of the African Union ideals and the shared values of justice, prosperity and democratic governance. The State of the Union (SOTU) coalition is committed to popularisation, implementation and realisation of 14 policy standards and legal instruments in the lives of every African man, woman and child.

The SOTU coalition expects to mobilise thousands of Africans to become active citizens and pan African actors for these 14 AU standards and instruments. By getting involved with civil society organisations at the national and continental level, these citizens will press for an accelerated pace of implementation and public accountability system that will keep Governments in check regarding the promises made to their people.      

Why was the Play for the Union campaign started?

Established in 2001, The African Union brings together 54 Governments under the vision of a united, peaceful and prosperous continent. The 33 articles of the Constitutive Act of the African Union outline the goals, governing principles, structure and administrative functions of the African Union.

The common denomination linking and underlying all the articles is the core concept of safeguarding and improving the level of respect for the shared values, which exposes a set of reciprocal rights and duties between African governments and their people.  

The problem however lies in national Government’s failure to comply with the African Union’s decisions on integration, development and people’s rights. The lack of accountability systems monitoring the compliance of each African state has lead to the slow ratification and implementation of numerous African Union instruments. In the mean time, the gap between policies and reality keeps expending.

It is within this continental climate that the Play for the Union campaign emerges to offer a platform from which the influencing capacity of citizens can grow.

We are playing for the Union, will you?

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