United States of Africa: Positioning the Pan-African Parliament and Court in the Political Union Debate
16 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2015
Date Written: June 1, 2007
The need to assure greater human security in a world exposed to the dangers of terrorism and civil wars; the necessity of pooling economic endeavour and consolidating markets and generating economic growth in poverty stricken communities; and the imperatives of preserving dwindling resources in a menaced global environment; all these seem to preoccupy many across the globe. For these reasons, among others, the logic of unions of one kind or another, be they sub-regional, regional or continental, dominate contemporary policy debates at national, regional and global levels. Consequently the very suggestion that the dream of a United States of Africa should be afforded further serious consideration is, despite the numerous practical obstacles to its realisation, in itself considered to be a laudable idea.
Indeed, this idea of African unity has evolved substantially: from the challenges of newly independent states to the imperatives of continent-wide unity, the transformation in global and continental realities has not necessarily been matched by concomitant institutional infrastructure on the continent. The transition from the much criticised Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU) and its associated programmes such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) was widely celebrated. Nevertheless, the desire for a more appropriate entity that can best confront the challenges of the modern world, arising from perceived inadequacies of the current initiatives, has remained alive. The present debate about the possibility of a United States of Africa is premised on these realities.
The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to offer some insights into the challenges inherent in the practical implementation of this idea with respect to two institutions integral to the notion of a United States of Africa, namely the African Parliament and African Court of Justice, and second, to offer some suggestions, informed by comparative experiences of the EU and US, on what reforms may need to be undertaken with respect to these institutions and what other supporting institutional framework would render the dream a reality.
Keywords: Pan African Parliament; African Court of Justice and Human Rights, African Union
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