The Permanent Representatives Committee
The Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) comprises Permanent Representatives to the Union and other plenipotentiaries of Member States. The PRC conducts the day-to-day business of the African Union (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 All AU Member States are members of the PRC.
Core functions of the PRC as stated in Rule 4 of the PRC Rules of Procedure include 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 African Union Commission (AUC) 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
Within the framework of the Institutional Reforms of the African Union, the Assembly agreed during its 28th Ordinary Session in January 2017 that the PRC rules of procedure should be reviewed and aligned with the mandate provided for by the AU Constitutive Act (Assembly/AU/Dec.635 (XXVIII)). In addition, the Assembly added that the PRC should facilitate communication between the AU and the national capitals, and act as an advisory body to the Executive Council, not as a supervisory body of the Commission.
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.
Advisory Sub-Committee on General Supervision and Coordination on Budgetary, Financial and Administrative Matters.
Oversees the financial and administrative management of the AU on behalf of the PRC. 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 PRC.
Sub-Committee on Budget Matters
The main tasks of this sub-committee are : Technical evaluation of the AU draft budget, monitor, on a quarterly basis, the efficient utilisation of financial resources and budget implementation, reinforce the technical evaluation of the draft budget and, in this regard, urge Member States to enlist the assistance of experts from their ministries of finance to participate in the deliberations of the Sub-Committee.
Sub-Committee on Audit Matters
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.
Sub-Committee on Economic and Trade Matters
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 bilateral and multilateral trade and economic issues.
Sub-Committee on Headquarters and Host Agreements
The Sub-Committee 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.