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The Pan-African Parliament

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) was set up to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the economic development and integration of the continent.

The PAP is intended as a platform for people from all African states to be involved in discussions and decision making on the problems and challenges facing the continent. The Parliament sits in Midrand, South Africa.

Rather than being elected directly by the people, PAP members are designated by the legislatures of their Member State and members of their domestic legislatures. The ultimate aim is for the Parliament to be an institution with full legislative powers, whose members are elected by universal suffrage. Until such time, the PAP has consultative, advisory and budgetary oversight powers within the AU

The AU Assembly adopted the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union Relating to the Pan-African Parliament during its June 2014 Summit (Assembly/AU/Dec.529(XXIII)). The new Protocol will come into force 30 days after the deposit of instruments of ratification by a simple majority of AU Member States. As of September 2017, 15 Member States had signed the Protocol and five had deposited their instruments of ratification. The 2014 Protocol includes that the Parliament shall be the legislative organ of the AU, with the AU Assembly determining the subjects/areas on which the Parliament may propose draft model laws and for the Parliament to make its own proposals on the subjects/areas on which it may submit or recommend draft model laws to the Assembly for its consideration and approval (article 8). The 2014 Protocol also includes provisions for at least two of each Member State’s five members to be women (article 4(2)); that members shall be elected by their national parliament or other deliberative organ from outside its membership and that elections shall be conducted in the same month by all Member States as far as possible (article 5(1)); and that the procedure for election shall be determined by national parliaments or other deliberative bodies until a code is developed for election to PAP by direct universal suffrage (article 3).

Functions of the PAP

The objectives and functions of the Parliament are set out in the Protocol to the Abuja Treaty relating to the Pan-African Parliament and in its Rules of Procedure

  • Facilitating and overseeing implementation of AU policies, objectives and programmes
  • Promoting human rights and consolidating democratic institutions and culture, good governance transparency and the rule of law by all AU organs, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Member States
  • Participating in creating awareness among the peoples of Africa on the: AU’s objectives, policy aims and programmes; strengthening of continental solidarity, cooperation and development; promotion of peace, security and stability; and pursuit of a common economic recovery strategy
  • Contributing to the harmonisation and coordination of Member States’ legislation
  • Promoting the coordination of the RECs’ policies, measures, programmes and activities
  • Preparing and adopting its budget and Rules of Procedure
  • Electing its Bureau members
  • Making recommendations on the AU budget

Structure of the PAP

The Parliament is composed of five members per Member State that has ratified the Protocol establishing it, including at least one woman per Member State and reflecting the diversity

of political opinions in their own national parliament or deliberative organ.1 Under rule 7(2) of the PAP Rules of Procedure, a parliamentarian’s tenure of office shall begin when he or

she has taken the oath of office or made a solemn declaration during a PAP plenary session. A parliamentarian’s term should correspond to his or her own national parliament term or any other deliberative organ that elected or designated the parliamentarian.

The full Assembly of the Parliament is called the Plenary. It is the main decision-making body and passes resolutions. The Plenary consists of the Member State representatives and is chaired by the President of the Parliament.

The PAP organs are the Bureau and Permanent Committees

  • The Bureau is composed of a president and four vice-presidents, representing the five AU regions, and is responsible for the management and administration of the Parliament and its organs
  • There are 10 Permanent Committees and 1 ad hoc one, whose mandate and functions are set out in the PAP Rules of Procedure. These functions correspond to those of the AU Specialised Technical Committees. Each committee can have up to 30 members. The Committees are :
    • Committee on Education, Culture, Tourism and Human Resources
    • Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolution
    • Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disabilities
    • Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs
    • Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters
    • Committee on Health, Labour and Social Affairs
    • Committee on Transport, Industry, Communications, Energy, Science and Technology
    • Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline
    • Committee on Justice and Human Rights
    • Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment
    • Committee on Audit and Public Accounts (CAPA)

The PAP Rules of Procedure provide for each of the five geographic regions to form a regional caucus composed of its members. and for other types of caucuses to be established to deal with issues of common interest as the PAP deems necessary. There are two such caucuses: Women and Youth. Each caucus has a bureau comprising a chairperson, deputy chairperson and rapporteur.

The PAP Secretariat assists in the day-to-day running of the Parliament, including reporting meetings, organising elections and managing staff. The Secretariat consists of a clerk, two deputy clerks and support staff.

Meetings

The PAP hould meet at least twice in ordinary session within a one-year period. Parliamentary sessions can last for up to one month. The PAP can also meet in extraordinary sessions.

The Permanent Committees meet twice a year (March and August) for statutory meetings and can meet more often during parliamentary sessions or for non-statutory meetings when the need arises.

The caucuses meet in ordinary session twice a year during parliamentary sessions (Rules of Procedure, rule 28).

The PAP Permanent Committees

Committee on Education, Culture, Tourism and Human Resources: It assists the Parliament with policy development and implementation of programmes on issues of access to education, promotion of culture and tourism, and human resource development.

Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolution: The Committee considers policy issues on international cooperation and international relations on behalf of the Parliament and AU. It also deals with conventions and protocols linking the Parliament with regional and international institutions. The Committee examines revisions of AU protocols and treaties and provides assistance to the Parliament in its conflict prevention and resolution efforts.

Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disabilities: Considers issues relating to the promotion of gender equality and assists the Parliament to oversee the development of AU policies and activities relating to family, youth and people with disabilities.

Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs: Examines the Parliamentary budget draft estimates. It also examines the AU budget and makes recommendations. The Committee reports to the Parliament on any problems involved in the implementation of the annual AU and PAP budgets. It advises the Parliament on economic, monetary and investment policies.

Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters: Deals with matters relating to the development of policy for cross-border, regional and continental concerns within the areas of trade (primarily external trade), customs and immigration. It assists the Parliament to oversee relevant organs or institutions and AU policies relating to trade.

Committee on Health, Labour and Social Affairs: Works to support the implementation of social development, labour and health policies and programmes throughout the AU, including through regional and international cooperation strategies.

Committee on Transport, Industry, Communications, Energy, Science and Technology: .Assists the Parliament to oversee the development and implementation of AU policies relating to transport, communication, energy, science and technology, and industry.

Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline: Assists the Parliament Bureau to interpret and apply the PAP Rules of Procedure, as well as matters relating to privileges and discipline. It considers requests for ‘waivers of immunity’ submitted under the Rules of Procedure and examines cases of indiscipline. The Committee also considers proposals for amending the Rules of Procedure.

Committee on Justice and Human Rights: Assists the Parliament in its role of harmonising and coordinating Member States’ laws. It advocates for respect within the AU of the principles of freedom, civil liberties, justice, human and peoples’ rights, and fundamental rights.

Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment: Considers the development of common regional and continental policies in the agricultural sector. It provides assistance to the Parliament to oversee and promote the harmonisation of policies for rural and agricultural development as well as the AU’s natural resources and environmental policies.

Committee on Audit and Public Accounts (CAPA): Considers internal and external audit reports on the PAP, and the Board of External Auditors’ reports on the AU, and recommends measures for effective implementation of the recommendations.