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Economic, Social & Cultural Council (ECOSOCC)

The Economic, Social & Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) was established in July 2004 as an advisory organ composed of different social and professional groups of AU Member States

The purpose of ECOSOCC is to provide an opportunity for African Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to play an active role in contributing to the AU’s principles, policies and programmes. ECOSOCC’s functions include:

  • Contributing, through advice, to the effective translation of the AU’s objectives, principles and policies into concrete programmes, as well as evaluating those programmes
  • Undertaking studies and making recommendations
  • Contributing to the promotion and realisation of the AU’s vision and objectives
  • Contributing to the promotion of human rights, the rule of law, good governance, democratic principles, gender equality and child rights
  • Promoting and supporting the efforts of institutions engaged in reviewing the future of Africa and forging pan-African values in order to enhance an African social model and way of life
  • Fostering and consolidating partnerships between the AU and CSOs
  • Assuming functions referred to it by other AU organs.

ECOSOCC is currently hosted by the Citizens & Diaspora Directorate of the AUC. In January 2016, the AU Assembly endorsed an offer from Zambia to host ECOSOCC.

Structure

ECOSOCC is composed of 2 CSOs from each Member State; 10 CSOs operating at regional level and 8 at continental level; 20 CSOs from the African Diaspora, as defined by the Executive Council and covering the continents of the world; and 6 CSOs, in ex officio capacity, nominated by the AUC and based on special considerations, in consultation with Member States.

The ECOSOCC statute also provides for Member State, regional, continental and Diaspora representatives to be elected on the basis of 50 percent gender equality and 50 percent aged between 18 and 35. Members are elected for 4-year terms and may be re-elected once.

CSO members include but are not limited to:

  • Social groups, such as those representing women, children, youth, the elderly and people with disabilities and special needs
  • Professional groups, such as associations of artists, engineers, health practitioners, social workers, media, teachers, sport associations, legal professionals, social scientists, academia, business organisations, national chambers of commerce, workers, employers, industry and agriculture, as well as other private sector interest groups
  • Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations (CBOs) and voluntary organisations
  • Cultural organisations
  • Social and professional organisations in the African Diaspora (in accordance with the definition approved by the Executive Council).

General Assembly:

ECOSOCC’s highest decision- and policy-making body is its General Assembly, which is composed of all members. The role of the General Assembly is to submit advisory opinions and reports as well as proposals on the budget and activities; approve and amend the Code of Ethics and Conduct developed for CSOs affiliated to or working with the AU; and review and make recommendations on ECOSOCC activities. The Assembly elects a bureau composed of a presiding officer and five deputies. Bureau members are elected on the basis of equitable geographical distribution and rotation, including one member representing the Diaspora.

The current Bureau of ECOSOCC (March 2017- march 2019): Presiding Officer, Richard Ssewakiryanga from Uganda (Uganda National NGO Forum). Deputies: Blaise Batongue, Cameroon (Groupement interpatronal du Cameroun (GICAM)) Fatma Mehdi, Sahrawi Republic (National Union of Sahrawi Women) Patson Malisa, South Africa (Organisation of African Youth) and Khady Fall Tall, Senegal (West African Women’s Association)

Standing Committee:

The ECOSOCC General Assembly elects an 18-member standing committee composed of the Bureau, Chairpersons of the 10 Sectoral Cluster Committees and two AUC representatives. The term of office for the Standing Committee members is 2 years. The functions of the Standing Committee are to coordinate ECOSOCC’s work, prepare its General Assembly meetings, follow up implementation of the Code of Ethics and Conduct developed for CSOs, and prepare and submit the ECOSOCC annual report to the AU Assembly.

Credentials Committee:

The ECOSOCC General Assembly establishes the Credentials Committee, composed of one CSO representative from each of the five regions; one CSO representative from the African Diaspora; one nominated representative for special interest groups, such as vulnerable groups, the aged, physically challenged and people living with HIV/AIDS; and two AUC representatives. The Committee’s role is to be responsible for examining the credentials of ECOSOCC members and their representatives. Its Rules of Procedure are adopted by the General Assembly.

Sectoral Cluster Committees:

the ECOSOCC Statutes provide for 10 Sectoral Cluster Committees as key operational mechanisms to formulate opinions and provide input into AU policies and programmes.

The Committees, mirror the AUC technical departments: Peace and Security; Political Affairs; Social Affairs; Trade and Industry; Infrastructure and Energy; Gender; Human Resources, Science and Technology; Rural Economy and Agriculture; Economic Affairs; and Cross-Cutting Programmes (such as HIV/AIDS, international cooperation and coordination with other AU institutions and organs).