Briefing by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Sue van der
Merwe to the Heads of Mission accredited to South Africa on the Outcomes of the
9th Ordinary African Union Summit, CSIR Convention Centre, 16 July 2007
Thank you for responding to our invitation
to address you on the Outcomes of the 9th African Union Summit that was held in
Ghana this year under the theme "Grand Debate on the Union Government."
leaders chose this theme because of their unanimous desire for our continent to
move rapidly towards the improvement of the human condition experienced by all
our people informed by the belief that this can best be achieved through unity.
This theme is a clear testimony of the progress and growth that the African
Union is making as the premier Continental organisation to realise the vision
of the rebirth of Africa.
It is also testimony of the commitment of our
leaders to the goal of an African continent that is prosperous, peaceful, democratic,
non-racial, non-sexist and united and which contributes to a world that is just
At my last briefing, we were very upbeat in reporting on
the good progress made with regards to the vision we have set for ourselves, of
the idea that Africans could come together as a united federation of nations and
These ideas were captured most notably in the words of Kwame Nkrumah
when he said, "We must endeavour to eradicate quickly the forces that have
kept us apart. The best means of doing so is to begin to create a larger and all-embracing
loyalty which will hold Africa together as a united people with one government
and one destiny."
We have long realised that our strength lies in our
unity and it was thus proper that on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the
Independence of one of the first African countries to achieve its freedom from
colonialism, Ghana, that the 9th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of
State and Government of the African Union was held under the theme "Grand
Debate on the Union Government", in Accra, Ghana from 01 to 03 July 2007.
Summit was preceded as is custom, by the meeting of the Permanent Representatives
Council (PRC) on 25 to 26 June and that of the Executive Council on 28 to 29 June
respectively. The PRC considered administrative and financial matters, legal and
institutional matters, political, economic, social and cultural matters while
the Executive Council adopted a number of decisions and considered a number of
reports including those of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and that of the
For its part, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government met from
01 to 03 July and devoted its time to the "Grand Debate on the Union Government"
with a view to providing a clear vision for the future of the African Union and
the framework for continental integration. I will deal with these issues in some
depth and with the assistance of officials from the department provide further
elaboration during the questions and answer session.
The Grand Debate on
the Union Government
Your Excellencies, I think we can all agree that the
notion of a United States of Africa has evoked within us a keen sense of inquisitiveness.
By its very nature it has stimulated a sense of wonder about its nature and for
some even a wait and see attitude as to what we as Africans hope to achieve.
the Assembly of Heads of State and Government sought to realise during the most
recent Summit in Accra, was to give concrete expression to this vision by adopting
the outcomes of the 10th Extraordinary Session of the Executive Council and the
Brainstorming Session of Foreign Affairs Ministers on the Union Government that
took place in Durban, South Africa, from 08 to 10 May 2007.
At the Summit
in Ghana, the Assembly adopted the Accra Declaration on the Union Government,
which reiterated the conviction of the United States of Africa, with a Union Government
as the ultimate objective of the African Union. The Heads of State and Government
reiterated the need for common responses to the major challenges of globalisation
facing the continent, as well as the need to boost regional integration processes
through effective continental mechanism.
Through the Declaration, the Assembly
agreed to accelerate the economic and political integration of the continent,
including the formation of a Union Government for Africa, with the ultimate objective
of creating the United States for Africa.
With regards to the specific modalities
for attaining this objective, the Assembly agreed on the following steps:
To rationalise and strengthen the Regional Economic Communities and harmonise
their activities, with a view to the creation of an African Common Market, within
a reviewed shorter timeframe;
b. To conduct immediately, an audit of the Executive
Council, the Commission and other organs of the African Union; based on the terms
of reference adopted at the Zimbali Brainstorming Session of AU Foreign Ministers,
To establish a Ministerial Committee charged with the following functions:
of the contents of the Union Government concept and its relations with national
- Identification of domains of competence and the impact of
the establishment of the Union Government on the sovereignty of Member States;
of the relationship between the Union Government and the Regional Economic Communities
- Elaboration of the roadmap, together with timeframes, for establishing
the Union Government; and
- Identification of additional sources of financing
the activities of the African Union.
Relationship between the Union
Government and the Regional Economic Communities
You will recall, Your Excellencies,
that during last year's briefing we mentioned the important role assigned to the
Regional Economic Communities with regards to supporting the agenda of the AU
towards African Unity. Towards this end, the AU called for the rationalisation
of the RECs, which was the focus of its 7th Summit in July last year. Following
on this, the Accra Assembly adopted the Protocol on Relations between the African
Union and the Regional Economic Communities. This Protocol was originally finalised
in 2005 and is intended to facilitate the harmonisation of policies and ensure
compliance with the Abuja Treaty and Lagos Plan of Action time frames.
Assembly therefore affirmed the integration process as envisaged in the Abuja
Treaty, based on Regional Economic Communities, working towards Common African
Market within shorter timeframes.
A decision was also taken with regards
to the Report on the Status of OAU/AU Treaties. The Commission was requested to
implement its previous decision of reviewing OAU/AU Treaties that have not entered
into force. Member States were also requested to submit to the Commission their
Finally, the Commission was requested
to resolve inconsistencies in linguistic texts and to appoint an Arabic speaking
legal expert to assist.
The outcome of the audit and the work of the Ministerial
Committee will be submitted to the Executive Council, to make appropriate recommendations
to the next Ordinary Session of the Assembly.
Already, within this month,
Ministers responsible for integration will meet in Kigali, Rwanda to further guide
and give impetus to the need to rationalise and harmonise Regional Economic Integration
and to ensure that the building blocks are strengthened to enable us to achieve
the African Common Market in shorter timeframes.
The Assembly also agreed
on the importance of involving the African Peoples, including Africans in the
Diaspora, in the process leading to the formation of the Union Government.
the Diaspora, you will recall that the African Union took a decision in January
2006 that South Africa should host the global Africa-African Diaspora Summit,
scheduled for 2008. The proposed theme of this Summit is: "Towards the realisation
of a United and Integrated Africa and its Diaspora" and the aim is to produce
a shared vision of sustainable development for both the African continent and
The Preparatory meetings have already started in South Africa,
London, Brazil and New York. Further meetings will take place in the Bahamas,
in Paris and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
The Ministerial Conference will take
place in November this year in Gauteng followed by a Global Summit of the African
Diaspora Heads of State and Government in 2008. There will be a civil society
component as well.
The effort by our country on behalf of the AU is a part
of our own contribution to rekindle the flames of solidarity, inspired by the
establishment of the first black republic in Haiti. As part of our ongoing engagements
with CARICOM, the AU and the UN, we will continue to monitor political developments
South Africa's APRM Report
Your Excellencies, allow me to
remind this forum that at a meeting of the APR Panel and the NEPAD Steering Committee
on 29 June 2007 in Accra, concern was raised regarding the slow pace of the peer
review process. This was attributed to the unfulfilled funding promises of some
of the G8 countries. To this end South Africa and Nigeria emphasised the importance
of sourcing funding from donor partners but reiterated the imperative of upholding
the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee decision to continue
to provide the core funding for the African Peer Review Process.
twenty countries that have acceded to the APRM, thirteen have been engaged in
the peer review process. Of these, five countries have completed the process.
Panel agreed that a brainstorming session to reflect on the lessons learnt is
necessary and a decision was taken to have such a session in Algiers towards the
end of October 2007 to coincide with the 9th African Peer Forum in Algiers.
you are aware, South Africa's Peer Review Report was discussed during the Summit
and amongst others, the following recommendations were made:
South Africa should give greater attention to accelerating the pace of land reform
and should step up the fight against racism and crime, and
§ that there
is a need to strengthen the integrated and holistic approach to combating HIV
and Aids, TB and malaria plus other communicable diseases.
has noted the concerns raised in the report and will endeavour to address the
recommendations made by the African Peer Review Panel through the Progamme of
Action containing actions to deal with challenges identified.
Mbeki noted on the outcomes of our report, "we must feel inspired that, among
other things in its report on South Africa, the APR Panel identified 18 best practices
in our country, which it recommended should be emulated by other African countries
as we, together, strive to improve overall governance and accelerate our advance
towards meeting the goal of a better life for the masses of the peoples of our
Infrastructure in support of Trade and Development
year we also highlighted attention that the Summit gave to the importance of infrastructure
in the support of trade and development. To this end the Pan-African Infrastructure
Development Fund was established.
The vision for the Fund is to create a
financing platform for infrastructure development that will accelerate Africa's
growth. The Fund estimates that over the next ten years at least US$150 billion
of infrastructure investment opportunities are expected to be created due to infrastructure
demands in energy, water and sanitation, transport and communication technology.
Fund represents investment opportunities to African States and Private investors
on the continent and is structured to offer:
- a range of investment
instruments to offer opportunities for African pension fund portfolios to invest
on the continent;
- competitive instruments based on public-private infrastructure
investments to increase returns;
- flexible long-term investment horizons;
mitigation of risk at key levels;
a opportunity to participate in an initiative
for Africa's post-colonial reconstruction that will help to put in place the drivers
for Africa's future growth.
Again, the important role of Regional
Economic Communities was highlighted in spurring trade and development ahead.
During the most recent Summit, the Heads of State and Government noted
the Report on Assessing the Progress towards the attainment of the Millennium
Development Goals. They called upon the AU Commission, in collaboration with the
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank and
the Regional Economic Communities to continue monitoring the implementation of
the MDGs and submit a progress report to Assembly at least once a year.
Assembly also mandated the AU Commission and the African Development Bank to strengthen
the capacity of the Regional Economic Communities, national statistics bodies
as well as other organisations in the development of statistics for Africa. A
process on African statistics harmonisation has already been initiated.
travel is an important element for trade and integration. The Summit endorsed
the resolution entrusting the functions of the Executing Agency of the Yamoussoukro
Decision to the African Civil Aviation Commission. It also endorsed the Addis
Ababa Declaration on Civil Aviation as well as the 2007-2010 Air Transport Plan
The Summit also endorsed the Abuja Declaration and Plan of Action
on Maritime Transport. All stakeholders were requested to ensure the implementation
of the Action Plan for the development of the maritime transport. The Summit recognises
the important role that international partners can play in supporting this Plan.
Towards this end, international partners were requested to support the implementation
of this Plan. The Summit requested that the AU Commission submit periodic progress
reports on this issue to the Executive Council.
Again last year, we emphasised the progress that we are making
as a continent with regards to human development. Development in all its forms
should ultimately translate into the improvement of the lives of our people. The
AU is very much alive to this priority and continues to give prominence in its
discussions to these issues.
During the Summit, the Report of the 8th and
9th Sessions of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of
the Child was noted. Concern was expressed over the deteriorating situation of
children on the Continent and Member States, who have not yet done so, were urged
to ratify the African Charter on Rights and Welfare of the Child.
Committee was requested to play an active role in convening the Second Pan-African
Forum on Children to be held in September 2007. The outcomes of this Forum will
be submitted to the UN General Assembly in December 2007 as Africa's position.
Summit also endorsed the Africa Health Strategy as a framework in which Member
States will address the health challenges facing the Continent.
endorsed the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa, the Plan of Action
on Violence Prevention in Africa and the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism for
the Outcomes of the May 2006 Abuja Special Summit on HIV and AIDS, TB and Malaria.
The AU Commission was requested to submit a status report on implementation to
the Executive Council. I am glad to inform you that the Africa Health Strategy
was welcomed by the World Health Organisation.
A decision was also taken
on the management of Africa's natural resources. The Report of the ECA and the
African Development Bank on the "2007 Big Table" on the theme of Africa's
natural resources was noted and the AU affirmed its commitment to Africa's ownership
of its natural resources and to the efficient management of these resources for
the achievement of sustainable development with a strong emphasis on local value
The AU Commission was requested, in collaboration with ECA and
the African Development Bank, to organise a meeting of the AU Ministers Responsible
for Natural Resources to reflect on major issues pertaining to the exploitation
and management of Africa's natural resources as a catalyst for development, and
to submit a report to the next Ordinary Session of the Executive Council in 2008.
Trade remains one of the key milestones in facilitating the
continent's development. Towards this end, the opening up of markets, particularly
those of the developed countries for products coming from the continent remains
Africa-European Union Dialogue
As I indicated earlier
on, we do not do these things naively but do them conscious of our own current
realities. As a continent functioning within the current realities of globalisation,
partnership with the international community, particularly the European Union,
remains important. I am glad to report that Africa - European Union discussions
towards the next Africa-EU Summit are progressing well.
At the Summit, the
Heads of State and Government adopted an Outline of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy
as the basis for a fully-fledged Joint Strategy and Action Plan for the Lisbon
Summit. It also decided that a Joint Ministerial Preparatory Meeting would be
held in Egypt in November this year. The AU Commission was requested to ensure
that in preparation for the Africa-EU Summit, Africa's development needs are taken
into account, particularly in the areas of agriculture and food security.
Summit also noted the Report on the Commission on the Status of Negotiations of
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union as well as the
decision of the 85th Session of the ACP Council of Ministers on EPAs held in Brussels,
Belgium from 21-24 May 2007. Deep concern was expressed at the slow progress in
the EPAs Negotiations on the development aspects and the European Commission was
called upon to reflect in their negotiating positions the political commitment
of EU member States in making EPAs instruments of development for ACP countries.
EU was requested to consider putting in place transitional measures to safeguard
the continued flow of African exports to the EU market beyond December 2007, given
the low likelihood of satisfactorily addressing all outstanding EPA issues as
well as the impossibility of completing the EPA ratification by the end of 2007.
Commission and the African Negotiating Regional Groups were requested to prepare
and submit for the consideration of the AU Ministers of Trade a comprehensive
report on the progress, problems and way forward in trade and economic co-operation
with the EU. It is within this context that it becomes increasingly important
for African Nations States to maintain unity and forge common positions in the
interest of the continent.
Beyond the Africa-EU
partnership, the Summit also noted the Report of the Chairperson of the Commission
and commended the Commission and the General Secretariat of the Arab League for
the Initiative to transform the Afro-Arab Cultural Institute in Bamako, Mali,
to an Afro-Arab Institute for Culture and Strategic Studies. The Summit endorsed
the conclusion of the General Agreement on Cooperation between the African Union
and the League of Arab States signed in 2007 and called upon the parties to take
all necessary measures to ensure successful implementation of the provisions of
Peace, Security and Post Conflict Reconstruction
Summit considered and took decisions on the conflict situations in the Middle
East and Africa. Regarding the situation in the Middle East and Palestine the
Summit reiterated its support to, and solidarity with, the Palestinians in their
struggle for self determination, return to their land and the establishment of
an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with international
principles of international law, UN Resolution 194 and other pertinent resolutions
of the OAU/AU and all UN resolutions.
The Summit also reaffirmed its support
for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for the Arab
Peace Initiative to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. The
UN was urged to take concrete measures to protect the people of Palestine by providing
international protection forces to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to
compel Israel to allow the UN fact-finding Mission to discharge its duties. The
International Community and Quartet Committee were urged to spare no efforts in
invigorating the negotiations to salvage the peace process, and AU support was
expressed for the organisation of an International Peace Conference on the Middle
I reiterate the statement made by my colleague Deputy Minister
Pahad that the South African government does not believe that you can have reconstruction
and development without peace and security and that will not be possible until
the situation in Israel and Palestine is solved on the basis of a two-state solution.
the establishment of the Palestinian Government of National Unity, grave concern
was expressed over the deteriorating situation between the two main components,
the Fatah and the Hamas, resulting in the dissolution of the Government. The International
Community was called upon to lift the siege, boycott and blockade against the
Government so as to ease the difficult living conditions of Palestinian people
which stir up tension and violence. Grave concern was also expressed regarding
the tension and violence in Lebanon and the Council called upon the Lebanese parties
to resolve their differences through negotiations.
Summit welcomed the outcomes of the United Nations-African Union Technical Consultation
with the Government of Sudan and the subsequent decision of the Peace and Security
Council on the Hybrid Operation in Darfur and the renewal of the AMIS mandate.
It expressed satisfaction with the efforts of the Special Envoys of the African
Union and United Nations, Messrs Salim Ahmed Salim and Jan Eliasson respectively,
to re-energise the Darfur Peace Process.
On the issue
of Somalia, the Summit appealed to Member States and partners to provide the requisite
support for the full deployment and sustenance of AMISON. IGAD, the League of
Arab States, the United Nations and other stakeholders were encouraged to support
the early convening of a national reconciliation congress in Somalia.
The Summit welcomed the decisions adopted by the Peace and Security
Council on 9 May and 9 June, as well as the Communiqué adopted by the countries
of the region at the meeting held in Cape Town. It encouraged the countries of
the region to intensify their efforts to enable the Peace and Security Council
to meet as soon as possible to take the required decisions. The Summit supported
the initiative by South Africa to host a meeting.
South Africa is still
involved with the Comoros in their effort to consolidate their democracy and deal
with post-conflict and development challenges.
On Policy Frameworks on Peace
The Summit noted AU Commission efforts to operationalise the
Continental Peace and Security architecture, including the Continental Early Warning
System, the Panel of the Wise and the African Standby Force and requested it to
intensify efforts. The AU Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security
Council were encouraged to strengthen their cooperation.
Related to the
matter of conflict and the consequences thereof, the Summit also took a decision
with regard to dealing with the challenge of refugees, returnees and displaced
persons in Africa. It noted the Report on Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons
and called on the international community to increase its assistance to victims.
It also called on the AU Commission to reactivate the Committee on Assistance
and Protection to Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons, to finalise
its terms of reference and to submit it to the Legal Counsel for validation and
approval at the next session of the Executive Council.
South Africa believes
that there is an urgent need for the AU and its Member States to take greater
ownership of this issue and to develop a comprehensive strategy, with support
from partners, in order to ameliorate this situation.
Free movement of people
and border control
The free movement of people within the continent is one
of the building blocks of integration and eventually Union Government. While this
is still a process in the making, the recent Summit noted the Report on this matter
as well as the symbolic launching of the African Union Diplomatic and Service
Passports. It underscored the need to de-link the issue of the African Union Diplomatic
Passport from that of Free Movement in Africa. The Summit further decided to convene
a forum, bringing together African officials at national, regional and continental
levels and the PRC to hold consultations and making recommendations on issues
of common interest that would facilitate free movement in Africa.
was also taken regarding the Conference of African Ministers in Charge of Border
Issues held in Addis Ababa on 7 June 2007. The Summit took note of the Report
of the Conference and endorsed the Declaration on the African Union Border Programme
and its Implementation Modalities as adopted by the Ministerial Conference. The
AU Commission and Member States were then requested to take appropriate measures
to implement the Declaration and to submit regular report thereon to the policy
organs of the Union.
The respect for human rights remains
a fundamental pillar of our approach to the Consolidation of the African Agenda.
It therefore remains critical for us as Africans to jointly commit ourselves as
governments and civil society to entrench the protection and promotion of a culture
of human rights for all our peoples.
The AU Summit adopted and authorised
the publication of the 22nd Activity Report of the African Commission on Human
and Peoples Rights in Accordance with Article 59 of the African Charter on Human
and Peoples Rights.
Member States, who had not yet done so, were also urged
to present their State Party Reports to the African Commission on Human and Peoples
Rights in accordance with Article 62 of the Charter. Also, Member States who had
not yet done so were requested to take urgent steps to ratify Protocols to the
Charter on the establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples Rights.
am pleased to report that five new members were appointed to the Commission and
of these, four are female. This reaffirms the AU's commitment for 50/50 gender
representation within its structures.
Good Governance, Finance and Administration
AU continues to grapple with issues of good governance within its own structures
and institutions as well as in its Member States. The Summit expressed concern
at some of the findings of the external Auditors and endorsed recommendations
of the Permanent Representative Committee as contained in the report. A decision
was also taken to establish a Committee of the Executive Council charged with
the formulation of proposals on the implementation of the recommendations.
recommendations of the Executive Council were adopted in their entirety including
the recommendation to extend the term of office of the current Executive team
of the AU Commission as well as recommendations of the Pan African Parliament
and the Dakar Conference.
Furthermore, increased emphasis on performance,
as proposed in the decision should be encouraged.
Excellencies, as you are aware, we are well on track with regards to our preparations
for 2010 as evidence by regular inspection visits by FIFA and the positive reports
that have come out of these visits.
We are encouraged by the decision of
the AU to encourage Member States to implement activities programmed to lead up
to 2010 and to popularise the International Year of Football and the FIFA World
Cup Legacy Programme.
I would like to conclude by reiterating
our commitment to the vision of an African continent that is prosperous, peaceful,
democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united and which contributes to a world
that is just and equitable.
I thank you.