APRM Workshop held in Gaborone, Botswana

Introduction

On the 10th of March 2020, a workshop organized by Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (BOCONGO) in partnership with The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) was held on the Introduction to and Importance of the African Peer Review Mechanism in Botswana. A Presentation was made by representatives from South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), Mr. Steven Gruzd and his assistant on Botswana’s involvement and history with the APRM.

What is APRM?

Mr. Gruzd shared that APRM was founded in 2003 and is currently has 40 of 54 African countries with Botswana and Zimbabwe being its newest members in 2019. APRM is defined as Africa’s voluntary governance monitoring and promotion tool. It grew out of African renaissances and NEPAD, an AU specialized Agency. It is used to measure adherence to African and Global standards.

APRM is based on a questionnaire of 105 pages (available on its website). It covers a wide range of questions and necessities for states to answer – assuring good governance practices. The questionnaire may also be adjusted by individual countries to questions certain issue relatable only to them but may have not necessarily been included within the questionnaire.

APRM structure within each member country consists of an APRM focal point (Minister) choose by a country internally, a National governing council, an APRM Secretariat, Technical Research Institutions and Country Review Mission. Continentally, APRM structure consists of APRM heads of States, APRM panel of eminent persons, APRM committee of focal points, APRM secretariat and Country Review missions.

Stages of APRM

  1. Heads of state sign onto the APRM program.
  2. Set up of focal point, NGL, TRIs, Roadmap.
  3. Production of country self-assessment report.
  4. Submit to secretariat.
  5. Draft country review report and National Plan of Action submitted for government comments.
  6. Peer review by APRM form.
  7. 6 months later, a report on the review is made public.
  8. Implementation of report.

Importance of APRM

  • Openness, transparency and frankness.
  • Coverage of sensitive topics within countries e.g. LGBT issues in African countries.
  • The report is an honest assessment of governance.
  • Identifies pressing problems within countries.
  • Open political space.
  • Early warning system of issues that may arise from lack of action by governments.

Challenges of the APRM

  • Choosing peers may raise issues of independence and might lead to a lack of trust on the program.
  • Logistics, financing and staring. The whole process is financed by the country being reviewed and it is very expensive ($1M+).
  • Civil societies may be interested in the process but may fall out due to financial problems and loss of desire in the program due to limited impact on their part.
  • Media coverage on the program is limited.
  • The program sticks to a tiny planned out frame and might not have enough coverage of all pressing issues e.g., lack of coverage in rural areas.
  • It’s difficult for countries to implement National Plans of Action.
  • Has it actually worked for any country so far?

Discussions on APRM

The APRM process should last 3-5 years between 3-5 years between each review but since its creation, many countries who were reviewed in 2003 still haven’t been reviewed again in 2020.

Penalties for non-compliance with the report are very limited, only reported measure of action was the suspension of Mauritius while its country was facing a coup. In conclusion, the programs may appear to be all talk and no concrete action, but still of great necessity.

It’s the ambassador’s responsibility to select CSOs, this may cause concern as to how independent the panel will be especially when a lot of CSOs are government funded.

Conclusion

Botswana joining the APRM can learn from other country experiences. It may prove to be beneficial by allowing for an open review of governance and promises made to the public by politicians. It creates a platform for major issues within the country to be addressed without fear or favor. Its independence intends to promoting good governance and accountability. If all stakeholders treat the APRM as a professional governing institute in identifying major country problems, celebrating successes, and creating solutions, where all voices are heard and respected; then the APRM can be a tool for meaningful reform and growth possibilities.

Tefo L Kwape

 

Subsequently developed tools:

  1. Brief – APRM Agenda 2063 SDGs – Final
  2. Brief – APRM and Youth
  3. Brief – Digital Rights in Africa
  4. Brief – APRM and Gender

 

More updates to be shared on this page.

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