State-Civil Society Relations: The Potential Contribution of the African Peer Review Mechanism

"The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is Africa’s home-grown governance promotion and monitoring tool. It has made one of its priorities the involvement of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the assessment of national initiatives; they have been included in the APRM’s governing structures and were invited to contribute submissions to the assessment research. This experience has the potential to transform non-state actors from adversaries into partners in governance. The process, however, often falters, and faces challenges. These include uncomfortable (or even hostile) relations, CSO capacity constraints, inconsistent application of the principle of inclusion, and the difficulty of maintaining momentum after completion of the review. This policy briefing reflects on the benefits of participation by non-state actors in the APRM. It suggests that countries should build on the gains made from citizens and governments working together. APRM reviews should serve as a blueprint for strengthening contributions from a wide range of CSOs in national policy debates and policy implementation."