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Governance and APRM Programme

Good governance assists countries to adhere to the rule of law, enhance economic performance and minimise conflict. This programme seeks to stimulate informed discussion and insightful research on governance in Africa, through the lens of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the continent’s innovative governance monitoring and promotion instrument. The GAP programme also works with civil society organisations to strengthen their interest and meaningful participation in the APRM and related processes in the emerging African Governance Architecture (AGA). We aim to improve the ability of the APRM to contribute to governance reforms, institutions and processes. As a result SAIIA is widely seen as the leading independent authority on the APRM.

The current programme is a collaboration between SAIIA and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA). GAP also works with the APRM Secretariat on a project to enhance the interaction of the Pan-African Parliament with the APRM.

Perhaps nothing better captures the legacy of Jan Christiaan Smuts than the bronze bust that greets visitors in the entrance hall of the building that bears his name – Jan Smuts House – housing the South African Institute of International Affairs. Sculpted by Rhona Stern, it has been executed with a rough, almost unfinished surface. An unbuttoned shirt with a wide, peeled-back collar suggests the sort of exertion (of a soldier? a farmer?) that would have discounted the ubiquitous neckpieces of the day – an incomplete task, perhaps. Smuts’ face seems reflective, his eyes almost dreamily set on the distance,…
The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) aims to promote 'good governance' in Africa, through systematic reviews of a state's governance practices and subsequent recommendations, made by the APRM's Panel of Eminent Persons in each report, on how to improve them. Deliberately styled as a 'peer review', it encourages representatives from different African countries (and ultimately an assembly of the participating Heads of State - the APR Forum), to interrogate each country's problems and to propose solutions.
Wednesday 22 April 2009 will be remembered by many in Africa an historic day. Almost 80% of eligible voters in South Africa went to the polls peacefully in a national election to choose their fourth government since the watershed elections in 1994 that established a non-racial democracy in the country. This marked another triumph of the ballot over other forms of changing leaders in a continent that has suffered coups and assassinations over the past half-century. South Africans should be congratulated for this achievement, and Africans should learn valuable lessons from them in this regard.
It has been over a month now since the unity government in Zimbabwe published proposals to dig the country out of the economic hole it has been languishing in over the best part of the past decade. The plan, named STERP (Short-Term Economic Recovery Plan) has been discussed and endorsed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the fourteen-member organization of countries in the region that was instrumental in facilitating the Global Political Agreement that gave birth to the unity government in Zimbabwe.
In a little over two weeks, Jacob Zuma will be sworn in as fourth president of South Africa since the advent of democracy in 1994. At home, his presidency is viewed ambivalently - either as a breath of fresh air or as a worrying development for constitutionalism in South Africa. His supporters are quick to magnify former president Mbeki's aloofness and policy failures on crime, employment creation and HIV/AIDS as compelling evidence that a more affable and down-to-earth Jacob Zuma is indeed just what South Africa needs. His detractors associate the former deputy president with personal moral failure, corruption and…
SAIIA Occasional Paper, No 29, April 2009 (English)
As leaders of the world's most productive economies meet in London on Thursday, street activism around the need for poverty alleviation and action on climate change is expected to divert the world's gaze from official proceedings. For African governments and civil society organizations, any diversion which focuses attention on issues of social justice will be welcome.
As published in polity.org.za In less than one month, South Africans go to the polls to elect a government for the next five years. We have already witnessed pre-election violence in KwaZulu-Natal and legal problems regarding the right of South Africans to vote abroad. While no election proceeds without hitches, the question is whether South Africa is setting a good example for the rest of the continent with the way its elections will be conducted.
A pair of workshops was held on the 25th and 26th of March in Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively. Coordinated by SAIIA’s Governance and APRM Programme and entitled South Africa’s Foreign Engagement: Whither Human Rights?, they interrogated South Africa’s diplomacy which has been widely criticised for having seemingly abandoned a commitment to human rights. Click here for the full report.
With the tempo of electioneering gathering pace in South Africa in preparation for the April 22 poll, one cannot but wonder what difference the frenetic efforts of politicians and their spin-doctors actually make to the voter. In 2009 alone, at least twenty countries on the continent are going to hold elections of some sort - from presidential to municipal. Do election manifestos provide sufficient guidance for voters to make a choice among the competing parties?  Do they contain enough information, and particularly specific undertakings by the parties on what they would do if elected into government? And can parties deliver…
Aghast, betrayed and angry describe the reactions of many South Africans to their government's refusal of a visa to the Dalai Lama. They describe, too, widely held views on the role that South Africa has played on the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council, and in respect of the crisis in Zimbabwe. Why, many are asking, has South Africa squandered its enormous moral capital and its commitment to human rights to side with some very questionable regimes?
par Professor Ahmed MohiddinSAIIA Occasional Paper, No 1, May 2008 (French)Download - French [.pdf]
SAIIA Occasional Paper, No 28, March 2009 (English)
SAIIA Occasional Paper, No 27, March 2009 (French)
SAIIA Occasional Paper, No 27, March 2009 (English)
From an international criminal law perspective, the warrant of arrest for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 4 March 2009 is a historic document.
SAIIA Occasional Paper, No 26, February 2009 (French)
SAIIA Occasional Paper, No 26, February 2009 (English)
Wednesday, 04 February 2009

2008 APRM Conference Photos

A selection of photos from the conference:  
This review first appeared in the South African Journal of International Affairs, Volume 15, Number 1, November 2008 The African Peer Review Mechanism: Lessons from the Pioneers, by Ross Herbert and Steven Gruzd, Johannesburg, South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), 2008, 424 pp., R220 (paperback), ISBN no. 1-919969-60-8
This review first appeared in the South African Journal of International Affairs, Volume 15, Number 1, November 2008   The African Peer Review Mechanism: Lessons from the Pioneers, by Ross Herbert and Steven Gruzd, Johannesburg, South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), 2008, 424 pp., R220 (paperback), ISBN no. 1-919969-60-8
Seeking 'African solutions to African problems' is frequently adopted as a mantra to conflict resolution by a curious partnership of African leaders eager to prove their capacity to meet their own challenges, and western powers who have historically been eager to help Africa along but increasingly prefer to let Africans clean up after their own mess or dig themselves in deeper. African solution efforts draw widespread scepticism from observers who have witnessed the African Union (AU) struggle to resolve conflicts in trouble spots such as Sudan's Darfur region, and among Africa's traditional Western donors who have poured aid into Africa…
Friday, 30 January 2009

"Helping" Africa

Particular moments - like Barack Obama's presidential inauguration - seem wired with history. Expectations are high that he will be a natural friend of Africa. Could his presidency be the historical moment in which Africa assumes its place in the world?
SAIIA Occasional Paper, No 20, January 2009 (English)
Guest column, as published in www.allafrica.com The election of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States is celebrated as a milestone in several, well known respects – not only will he assume office as the first president of color – but as an underdog who entered the race for the White House with a slim resume, an unfamiliar name pitted against an established political brand and a political novice whose prospects of raising enough money to meet up to the task were not extremely bright at the starting line. 
For more than a decade now, Africa has been trying to address its developmental and political problems through an approach favouring home-grown initiatives.