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The Permanent Representatives' Committee (PRC)

The Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) conducts the day-to-day business of the AU on behalf of the Assembly and Executive Council. It reports to the Executive Council, prepares the Council’s work and acts on its instructions (under article 21 of the Constitutive Act). All AU Member States are members of the PRC

Rule 4 of the PRC Rules of Procedure specifies that its powers and functions are to:

  • Act as an advisory body to the AU Executive Council
  • Prepare its Rules of Procedure and submit them to the Executive Council
  • Prepare Executive Council meetings, including the agenda and draft decisions
  • Make recommendations on areas of common interest to Member States particularly on issues on the Executive Council agenda
  • Facilitate communication between the AU Commission and Member States’ capitals
  • Consider the AU’s programme and budget as well as the Commission’s administrative, budgetary and financial matters, and make recommendations to the Executive Council
  • Consider the Commission’s financial report and make recommendations to the Executive Council
  • Consider the Board of External Auditors’ report and submit written comments to the Executive Council
  • Monitor the implementation of the AU budget
  • Propose the composition of AU organ bureaus, ad hoc committees and sub-committees
  • Consider matters relating to the AU’s programmes and projects, particularly issues relating to the socio-economic development and integration of the continent, and make recommendations to the Executive Council
  • Monitor the implementation of policies, decisions and agreements adopted by the Executive Council
  • Participate in the preparation of the AU programme of activities and calendar of meetings; consider any matter assigned to it by the Executive Council; and carry out any other functions that may be assigned to it by the Executive Council.

Rule 4 also provides that the PRC may set up ad hoc committees and temporary working groups as it deems necessary.

structure

All Member States are represented on the PRC at the level of Permanent Representative. Similar to the Assembly and Executive Council, the PRC Bureau consists of a chairperson, three vice-chairpersons and a rapporteur.

The Bureau positions are held by the same states that form the Assembly and Executive Council Bureaus. Office holders serve for one year (usually January to January). In addition to the official Bureau, a larger informal bureau of 15 Member States traditionally convenes to support arrangements for the Assembly Summit sessions.

meetings

The PRC meets at AU Headquarters at least once a month and extraordinary sessions may also be held. The quorum is two-thirds of the Member States eligible to vote. The agenda for each session is drawn up by the Chairperson in consultation with the PRC Bureau and AU Commission. Sessions are closed except when the PRC decides otherwise (by simple majority). The PRC takes all its decisions by consensus or, failing that, by a two-thirds majority of Member States. Questions of procedure require a simple majority vote. Whether a question is one of procedure or not is also determined by a simple majority vote. PRC meetings are governed by rules 5–9 of the Rules of Procedure and decision taking by rule 13.

sub-committees advisory sub-committee on administrative, budgetary and financial matters purpose The Advisory Sub-Committee on Administrative, Budgetary and Financial Matters oversees the financial and administrative management of the AU. Under its draft terms of reference, the Sub-Committee’s core tasks include to:

  • Review the draft programme of activities and budgetary estimates presented by the Commission
  • Review all administrative and other matters with financial implications
  • Review administration of the programme budget and, in particular, the financial and accounting transactions of the Commission and regional offices
  • Consider requests by the Commission for transfers of authorised budgetary funds to cope with any urgent decisions or projects
  • Consider unforeseen urgent expenditure
  • Consider requests related to the working capital or other funds
  • Review the Commission’s financial report for the preceding year and make recommendations to the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC)

The Sub-Committee reports on each of its meetings and makes recommendations to the PRC. It may draft reports for review by the Executive Council on any issues concerning administrative, budgetary, management and financial matters. The Sub-Committee drafts the AU’s financial rules and regulations, which are then submitted to the PRC for transmission to the Executive Council.

evolution

The Sub-Committee is the successor to the OAU Sub-Committee of the same name.

meetings

Sub-Committee sessions are held at AU Headquarters at least once a month and extraordinary sessions may also be held. The quorum is two-thirds of the Member States. The Chairperson draws up the agenda in consultation with the PRC Bureau, Sub-Committee Bureau and AU Commission. Sessions are closed except when the Sub-Committee decides by simple majority to hold open sessions. Meetings are governed by rules 5–9 of the PRC Rules of Procedure.

membership

The Advisory Sub-Committee on Administrative, Budgetary and Financial Matters is a ‘committee of the whole’, meaning all AU Member States are members. In accordance with established practice, the composition of the Sub-Committee is determined by internal consultations.

sub-committee on audit matters

purpose

The PRC established the Sub-Committee on Audit Matters during its 25th ordinary session, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January 2013. The Sub-Committee’s mandate is to assist the AU in handling financial reporting processes, internal control, audit and the monitoring of compliance with rules and regulations. Under its terms of reference, the Sub-Committee’s core tasks include to:

  • Consider the work of all oversight bodies employed and/or appointed by the AU
  • Institute investigations into any matters
  • Seek any information it requires from AU employees
  • Retain, at the AU’s expense, such outside counsel, experts and other advisers as the Sub-Committee may deem appropriate.

meetings

Sub-Committee sessions are held at AU Headquarters at least once a month and extraordinary sessions may also be held. The quorum is two-thirds of the Member States. The Chairperson draws up the agenda in consultation with the PRC Bureau, Sub-Committee Bureau and AU Commission. Sessions are closed except when the Sub-Committee decides by simple majority to hold open sessions. Meetings are governed by rules 5–9 of the PRC Rules of Procedure.

membership

The Sub-Committee is composed of 15 members based on the agreed geographical distribution noted in the following list. According to Executive Council decision 752 (XXII), the composition of the Sub-Committee is determined by internal consultations.

 

 

sub-committee on contributions purpose The Sub-Committee is responsible for decisions relating to Member States and other contributors to the AU budget. Under its draft terms of reference, the Sub-Committee is mandated to:

  • Advise the Assembly on the apportionment of the organisation’s expenses among members broadly according to capacity to pay
  • Advise the Assembly on treatment of Member States in arrears of their contributions to the organisation.

The Sub-Committee also supports the Ministerial Committee on the Review of Scale of Assessment, as required.

evolution

Under article XXIII of the OAU Charter, Member States contributed to the OAU budget in accordance with the UN scales of assessment. This system was reviewed in 1986 when the OAU Council of Ministers created a Sub-Committee on Contributions to recommend proposals to address concerns about the ability of Member States to meet the UN assessment levels.

The AU Sub-Committee on Contributions is the direct successor to the OAU’s committee.

meetings

Sub-Committee sessions are held at AU Headquarters at least once a month and extraordinary sessions may also be held. The quorum is two-thirds of the Member States. The Chairperson draws up the agenda in consultation with the PRC Bureau, Sub-Committee Bureau and AU Commission. Sessions are closed except when the Sub-Committee decides by simple majority to hold open sessions. Meetings are governed by rules 5–9 of the PRC Rules of Procedure.

membership

The Sub-Committee is composed of 15 members based on agreed geographical distribution as noted in the following list. In accordance with established practice, the composition of the Sub-Committee is determined by internal consultations.

 

 

sub-committee on economic and trade matters

purpose

The Sub-Committee is responsible for examining trade and economic activities between Member States with a view to fast tracking the economic and trade integration process in the continent. It considers both bilateral and multilateral trade and economic issues.

meetings

Sub-Committee sessions are held at AU Headquarters at least once a month and extraordinary sessions may also be held. The quorum is two-thirds of the Member States. The Chairperson draws up the agenda in consultation with the PRC Bureau, Sub-Committee Bureau and AU Commission. Sessions are closed except when the Sub-Committee decides by simple majority to hold open sessions. Meetings are governed by rules 5–9 of the PRC Rules of Procedure.

membership

The Sub-Committee is composed of 15 members based on agreed geographical distribution as noted in the following list. In accordance with established practice, the composition of the Sub-Committee is agreed by internal consultations.

 

 

sub-committee on headquarters and host agreements

purpose

The Sub-Committee on Headquarters and Host Agreements is responsible for the relationship between the AU and host countries. Its mandate includes to:

  • Liaise with Commission officials on issues relating to and arising from Headquarters and other Agreements, including issues of privileges and immunities
  • Undertake a review of Headquarters and similar Agreements and make recommendations for their amendment or revision
  • Initiate, when necessary, meetings with host government authorities with a view to resolving any problems
  • Play a ‘good offices’ role to deal with any misunderstandings in the implementation of Agreements.

evolution

The Sub-Committee is the successor of the OAU Committee of the same name and with the same mandate.

meetings

Sub-Committee sessions are held at AU Headquarters at least once a month and extraordinary sessions may also be held. The quorum is two-thirds of the Member States. The Chairperson draws up the agenda in consultation with the PRC Bureau, Sub-Committee Bureau and AU Commission. Sessions are closed except when the Sub-Committee decides by simple majority to hold open sessions. Meetings are governed by rules 5–9 of the PRC Rules of Procedure.

membership

The Sub-Committee consists of 15 members based on agreed geographical distribution as noted in the following list. In accordance with the established practice, the composition of the Sub-Committee is determined by internal consultations.

 

 

Sub-Committee on Multilateral Cooperation and Strategic Partnerships

purpose

The Sub-Committee is responsible for matters relating to Africa’s strategic multilateral and bilateral partnerships with the rest of the world.

meetings

Sub-Committee sessions are held at AU Headquarters at least once a month and extraordinary sessions may also be held. The quorum is two-thirds of the Member States. The Chairperson draws up the agenda in consultation with the PRC Bureau, Sub-Committee Bureau and AU Commission. Sessions are closed except when the Sub-Committee decides by simple majority to hold open sessions. Meetings are governed by rules 5–9 of the PRC Rules of Procedure.

membership

The Sub-Committee is composed of 15 members based on agreed geographical distribution as noted in the following list. In accordance with established practice, the composition of the Sub-Committee is determined by internal consultations.

 

 

Sub-Committee on New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)

Purpose

The Sub-Committee oversees and supports activities promoting the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which is the AU’s strategic framework for pan-African socio- economic development (see the NEPAD section for more information). The Sub-Committee is mandated to:

  • Monitor progress in implementation of the strategic plan devised by the Steering Committee (on NEPAD) for marketing NEPAD at national, sub-regional, regional and international levels, and make periodic reports to the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC)
  • Follow up on progress on priority areas and policy guidelines outlined in the plan of action for the implementation of NEPAD, and report periodically to the PRC
  • Devise strategies for the popularisation of NEPAD jointly with the Commission and NEPAD Secretariat
  • Assist in identifying priority areas/sectors that could reverse Africa’s marginalisation and lay a basis for sustainable long-term development
  • Devise ways and means of mobilising resources for the implementation of NEPAD policies, programmes and projects in collaboration with the Commission and NEPAD Secretariat
  • Monitor implementation of policies and programmes with a view to ensuring commitments to NEPAD resources are honoured.

evolution

The NEPAD programme was introduced and endorsed by Member States in July 2001 during the transition from the OAU to the AU. The AU Assembly formally adopted the Declaration on the Implementation of NEPAD in 2002. The Sub-Committee was established by the AU in 2010 to deal with NEPAD matters.

meetings

Sub-Committee sessions are held at AU Headquarters at least once a month and extraordinary sessions may also be held. The quorum is two-thirds of the Member States. The Chairperson draws up the agenda in consultation with the PRC Bureau, Sub-Committee Bureau and AU Commission. Sessions are closed except when the Sub-Committee decides by simple majority to hold open sessions. Meetings are governed by rules 5–9 of the PRC Rules of Procedure.

membership

The Sub-Committee is composed of 15 members based on agreed geographical distribution as noted in the following list. In accordance with established practice, the composition of the Sub-Committee is determined by internal consultations.

 

 

Sub-Committee on Programmes and Conferences purpose The Sub-Committee oversees the scheduling and organisation of AU conferences and meetings. Its mandate includes to:

  • Make recommendations concerning the scheduling of statutory meetings
  • Review the draft calendar of meetings and arrange practical timetabling
  • Liaise with the Advisory Sub-Committee on Administrative, Budgetary and Financial Matters on the administrative and financial implications of conferences
  • Monitor the implementation of all AU resolutions, rules and regulations relating to the organisation, servicing and documentation of meetings and conferences.

evolution

The Sub-Committee is the successor to the OAU Sub-Committee on Programmes and Conferences.

meetings

Sub-Committee sessions are held at AU Headquarters at least once a month and extraordinary sessions may also be held. The quorum is two-thirds of the Member States. The Chairperson draws up the agenda in consultation with the PRC Bureau, Sub-Committee Bureau and AU Commission. Sessions are closed except when the Sub-Committee decides by simple majority to hold open sessions. Meetings are governed by rules 5–9 of the PRC Rules of Procedure.

membership

The Sub-Committee on Programmes and Conferences is a ‘committee of the whole’, meaning all AU Member States are members.

 

 

Sub-Committee on Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa

purpose

The Sub-Committee is responsible for developing AU policies on refugees, displaced persons and returnees. Its mandate includes to:

  • Assist AU deliberative organs in designing, developing, defining, harmonising and coordinating policy on matters affecting refugees, displaced persons and returnees, as well as in matters relating to humanitarian law promotion on the continent
  • Follow up, analyse and evaluate the situation of refugees, displaced persons and returnees and provide policy recommendations and solutions to the Executive Council for AU action
  • Collaborate and work with the AU Commission and UN humanitarian agencies, regional organisations, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and concerned non- governmental organisations
  • Maintain permanent contacts with Member States through the AU Commission
  • Sensitise Member States and the entire international community to the problems of refugees, displaced persons and returnees, with a view to enlisting their assistance to these people and their effective contribution towards a lasting resolution of the issues
  • Participate in meetings of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other humanitarian organisations.

evolution

The Sub-Committee is the successor to the OAU Commission on Refugees, which was established in 1964 by the Council of Ministers. It was composed of 10 members tasked to examine the issue of refugees and formulate recommendations to the Council, including on the issue of integration of refugees in their countries of asylum. In 1980, the membership was extended and in 1997 opened to all Member States.

meetings

Sub-Committee sessions are held at AU Headquarters at least once a month and extraordinary sessions may also be held. The quorum is two-thirds of the Member States. The Chairperson draws up the agenda in consultation with the PRC Bureau, Sub-Committee Bureau and AU Commission. Sessions are closed except when the Sub-Committee decides by simple majority to hold open sessions. Meetings are governed by rules 5–9 of the PRC Rules of Procedure.

membership

The Sub-Committee is a ‘committee of the whole’, meaning all AU Member States are members.

 

 

Policy Sub-Committee of the Special Emergency Assistance Fund for Drought and Famine Relief in Africa

purpose

The Sub-Committee of the Special Emergency Assistance Fund for Drought and Famine Relief in Africa oversees all matters relating to the operation of the Fund of the same name. Its mandate includes to:

  • Act as the supreme organ of the Fund
  • Determine the Fund’s operational policy including the criteria for approval of loans and the terms and conditions for withdrawals from the Fund
  • Approve administrative and other expenses related to the operation of the Fund
  • Select beneficiary countries and decide on the amounts of grants and loans
  • Initiate effective measures for mobilising resources for the Fund from both public and private sources and including African and non-African sources
  • Make recommendations regarding the management and administration of the Fund’s resources by the African Development Bank
  • Make recommendations regarding the Statute of the Fund and its rules and operating procedures
  • Report on its activities annually to the AU Executive Council in consultation with the Chairperson of the Commission.

evolution

The Sub-Committee originated in the Lagos Plan of Action recommendation to establish a Special Emergency Assistance Fund for Drought and Famine in Africa. In the mid-1980s, the Council of Ministers called for the Fund to become operational and the OAU created an interim policy committee to act as the supreme organ of the Fund, determine policy and draw up the criteria for approval of loans or grants from the Fund. The Interim Policy Committee became the Sub-Committee of Special Emergency Assistance when the AU was created.

meetings

Sub-Committee sessions are held at AU Headquarters at least once a month and extraordinary sessions may also be held. The quorum is two-thirds of the Member States. The Chairperson draws up the agenda in consultation with the PRC Bureau, Sub-Committee Bureau and AU Commission. Sessions are closed except when the Sub-Committee decides by simple majority to hold open sessions. Meetings are governed by rules 5–9 of the PRC Rules of Procedure.

membership

The Sub-Committee is composed of 15 members based on agreed geographical distribution as noted in the following list. In accordance with established practice, the composition of the Sub-Committee is determined by consultation amongst AU regional group Deans.

 

 

Sub-Committee on Structures

purpose

The Sub-Committee on Structures oversees organisational review of the African Union. It is responsible for ensuring that relationships between the AU and its organs are functioning well in order to meet its core objectives. The Sub-Committee’s mandate includes:

  • Evaluating and making proposals on organisational structures
  • Reviewing AU staff service conditions; criteria for recruitment including policies and practices around the equivalency of academic qualifications; work methods and procedures including with a view to ensuring fair remuneration for equal jobs; and the Staff Regulations and Rules
  • Keeping the structure within the Commission under regular review to ensure that activities are programme oriented and harmonised to avoid duplication
  • Making recommendations on ways to improve coordination and accountability within Headquarters and between Headquarters and regional offices.

evolution

The Sub-Committee is the successor to the OAU’s Ad Hoc Committee of Experts, which had been established in 1997 to replace earlier technical and ad-hoc expert committees that focused on structural reforms.

meetings

Sub-Committee sessions are held at AU Headquarters at least once a month and extraordinary sessions may also be held. The quorum is two-thirds of the Member States. The Chairperson draws up the agenda in consultation with the PRC Bureau, Sub-Committee Bureau and AU Commission. Sessions are closed except when the Sub-Committee decides by simple majority to hold open sessions. Meetings are governed by rules 5–9 of the PRC Rules of Procedure.

membership

The Sub-Committee on Structures is a ‘committee of the whole’, meaning all AU Member States are members. Membership was opened to all AU members in 2012 (PRC/Rpt(XXIV, para 37(ii)). The Sub-Committee previously comprised 15 members.