AU audit report finds serious inadequacies

By Ousseynou Guèye- On special assignment Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) -- The African Union (AU) organs are afflicted by serious inadequacies which are preventing the organisation from realising its goals, according to an audit report submitted to the Executive Council, which began meeting on Sunday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
The report was compiled by a high level expert committee at the instance of the AU heads of State and government during their last summit in July in Accra, Ghana.
The committee, led by the former Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Adebayo Adedeji, was set up by the organisation's incumbent chairman, Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufuor.
The audit, carried out from 10 September to 18 December 2007, noted serious inadequacies in the set up and operations of the organs and institutions of the Union.
On the summit of the Heads of State and Government, the report said the agenda for the meetings must reach the venues at least a day before the two-day summit But in the practice, many leaders arrive just before the opening of the summits, with the first day being dedicated to official ceremonies, consultations and other procedural issues.
According to the authors of the report, "experience has shown that most of the leaders return home before the end of the second day ceremony.
"Therefore, the important items on the agenda are left to some Ministers and in most cases Ambassadors working as heads of their respective delegations, which causes the postponement of those issues," the experts lamented.
To avoid overloading the leaders, the experts suggested that the Conference agenda should focus only on one or two key issues, while the others would be left for to the Executive Council, the Permanent Representative Committee (PRC) and the AU Commission.
They further called for the holding of a single annual session, instead of the current two, to give less work to the Executive Council and the Commission as well as to help them follow up on the decisions.
On finances, the report said the various targets set for the organisation put a serious strain on the AU budget, adding that the organisation of an annual session would help the AU to save huge funds that could be used for other purposes.
The experts noted that several decisions taken in the past by the leaders had yet to be implemented, saying for example that that since the establishment of the Organisation of the African Unity (OAU) in 1963, some 33 treaties had been approved, but by 13 June 2007 only 18 of them had been fully ratified.
They said the setting up of the AU in June 2002, to replace the OAU, did not help reverse the trend as only three of the 10 treaties approved had been implemented.
The report reached a similar conclusion on the decisions and declarations at the summits, saying that out of the 42 made since 2002, only 21 had been fully or partly implemented.
The report also touched on the running of the Executive Council, saying "Its current constitution makes it an organ for everything which runs against the practice in countries and is inconsistent with the provisions of the AU Constitutive Act.
" It said the various issues submitted to the Council might require the expertise of those other than the Foreign Affairs Ministers who constitute it, and therefore recommended that the Executive Council be changed to the Ministers' Council, so it will no longer be the sole preserve of Foreign Affairs Ministers.
On the PRC, the audit noted the failure to respect its meeting schedule.
Whereas the Committee is supposed to meet at least once a month to discuss recommendations which the Executive Council will later adopt, the scheduled has never been strictly adhered to.
The report also found that the sub-committees placed under the responsibility of the PRC mainly focus on the organisational supervision issues, to the detriment of the Union's programmes.
Furthermore, it said, these sub-committees are often faced with the lack of quorum during meetings, perhaps due to the small size of some diplomatic missions and their limited expertise to address technical issues.
Whatever the case, the report said, "that negatively impacted on the implementation of the programme of work and management of human and financial resources".
The experts noted in the audit report that the specialised Technical Committee, established in 2004, were yet to be implemented.
''The terms of reference and the conditions of service are still vague and the relations between these specialised committees and the current structures and programmes are yet to be defined," they concluded.

28 january 2008 11:17:00




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