Seminar on “The Distinctive characteristics of the African Union personality”
On the 28th of August 2023, the council organized a symposium on “The distinctive characteristics of the African Union personality”. The speaker in this seminar was Ambassador/ Amr Al-Gowely, the strategic advisor of the vice chairman of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, the visiting member in the multilateral diplomacy program of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).
Started the symposium Ambassador/Mohamed Al Oraby, the chairman of the council. Participated in the seminar Ambassadors: Ezzat Saad the director of the council, Ali Al-Hefny, Youssef Al-Sharkawy, and Abdel-Moneam Omar, and Dr. Sadek Abd-Elaal, in addition to a number of concerned academics and researchers with the African Affairs.
In the beginning of his speech, Amb/ Al-Gowely pointed out that the African Union, in general, seems to have a political character that have a different characteristics from the other international organizations including the United Nations. For example, and in answering question, is the African Union an International Organization or supranational organization?
The answer is that there’s a sort of relation between the international and supranational character of the African Union. The members of the Union is trying to enhance moving from the level of international organization to the level of supranational organization. In fact, the decisions of the union and its powers regarding the intervention in the member states reinforce this, as the Union interfere in member states affairs in case of serious violations to human rights. Moreover, the union can suspend the membership of its members in the case of coups, and these powers even the United Nations cannot perform, only can be done in the case that the member state didn’t pay the fees of the membership.
In a related context, is the secretariat of the commission federal or union?, given that the president of the commission is elected, as well as, the rest of the commission’s staff including the vice president, this is a unique situation. This makes it difficult to see the composition of the commission as one team, as everyone is being elected.
Likewise, the budget raises a question that is it subjective or participatory?, it’s noted that the daily activities are funded by the member states, while the program budget – which is the largest (about 90%) – is funded by partners especially the European Union, taking into consideration that 50% of the union’s budget is born by 5 countries: Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, South Africa, Nigeria. Therefore, there’s a kind of imbalance among the member states in this regard.
There’s another question, is the Union a continental organization that represents countries or a network of sub-regional groups like ECOWAS, SADC, etc. ?, It’s noted that there’s an ongoing agreement on a mechanism to divide the work between the Union and these groups, but it should consider the case of erupting conflict, and asking, will the African Peace and Security Council have the main role or the groups that have main role?
On the other hand, one may feel that the Union is an organization and the secretariat is the one that manages the African work as a whole. There’s cooperation between the organs of the organization as a whole, but what’s happening is a kind of expansion for the organization, which means that there’s many parallel and repeated positions, and many of these positions have no actual description.
Finally, one of the features of the Union, also, is the absence of real negotiations among the countries on the decisions and conclusions which may be revealed by summits or meetings, given the practice that the drafting committee is the one that prepares the final documents, and the results could be prepared in advance. So, this may affect the overall performance of the African Union as a whole.