The Democracy and Civic Engagement Unit at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, recently developed a Toolkit for civil society advocacy in the Pan-African Parliament (PAP). Despite its potentially crucial role in PAP’s activities, civil society organisations (CSOs) still know very little about this institution. For most CSOs, the PAP, and the African Union (AU) in general, are largely invisible, and too distant to access or influence with their advocacy. This Toolkit aims to change that.
Civil society is a core factor in sustaining democracy, and it is not possible to imagine democracy without civil society. A strong and robust civil society is key to a progressive democracy. Therefore the AU project towards a reformed Africa is plausible and possible if it embraced civil society as the building block between people and governments. People’s participation is at the core of the AU's activities. The Preamble of the AU Constitutive Act enshrines the principle that CSOs and the people of Africa should be engaged in the AU’s activities. One of the objectives of the AU under article 3(g) of the Constitutive Act is to promote popular participation. The treaty articulates an Africa that is people cantered. The preamble of the Constitutive Act, for example, talks of a Union that is guided by a common vision of a united and strong Africa and by the need to build a partnership between governments and all segments of civil society.
The establishment of the PAP as an AU organ ensures that there is full participation of Africans in the development and economic integration of Africa. The PAP seeks to provide a platform for Africans and their CSOs to have a greater impact on the decisions affecting the continent. This Toolkit on CSO engagement with the PAP aims to familiarise civil society with the basics of the PAP and identifies potential areas for civil society engagement with the PAP by contributing to its policies, and provide a basis of engagement on negotiating new directions for governance on the continent.
The Toolkit comprises three sections:
- The first part gives an introduction to the institutional framework of PAP. It aims to familiarise civil society with the basics of the PAP.
- The second part identifies potential areas for civil society engagement with the PAP.
- The third part lists crucial contacts and resources vital for successful engagement with the PAP.