Building an African Union for the 21st Century: Relations with Regional Economic Communities (RECs), NEPAD and Civil society
There is a need to examine the significance and progress of the African Union (AU), which was officially launched in Durban, South Africa, in July 2002. The AU and its programme for economic recovery - the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) – as well as Africa’s sub-regional organisations and civil society actors, have outlined strategies and committed themselves to addressing Africa’s governance, socio-political, economic and developmental challenges in the 21st century. However, as these actors embark on this necessary and urgent mission, they continue to face major challenges, including limited capacity in terms of requisite financial and human resources to implement socio-economic programmes to address poverty, conflict, health, education and other challenges. It was in this context that the Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa, held a three-day policy seminar in Cape Town, from 20 to 22 August 2005, on the theme, “Building an African Union for the 21st Century: Relations with Regional Economic Communities (RECs), NEPAD and Civil Society”. Participants discussed the extent to which the AU’s institutions, including NEPAD, can achieve their aims and objectives. They also shared their insights on the individual and collective initiatives being undertaken by the regional economic communities and civil society actors. The meeting interrogated the objectives and programmes of these organisations in order to generate concrete policy proposals on how to ensure an appropriate division of labour to achieve the common objectives of strengthening Africa’s evolving security and governance architecture. The seminar also identified the capacity needs of the AU, NEPAD, RECs and civil society, and put forward strategic recommendations for strengthening these institutions and actors.