AU Representatives committee session continues

Friday, June 26, 2009
By: 
Bathandwa Mbola

Syrte - The 18th ordinary session of the African Union's Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), which opened on Wednesday in Syrte, central Libya, continues today.

The meeting held under the theme: "Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security," will deliberate on the administrative, financial, legal, socio-economic and political matters of the African Union.

The PRC will also consider the Report on the Situation of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa; the Report of the Commission on the Durban Review on the World Conference against Racism, among others.

With regard to economic, social and cultural matters, the ambassadors will exchange views on:

* the Report of the Commission on the setting up of the Pan-African Media Observatory;
* the Report of the Commission on the Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs);
* and the Progress Report of the Commission on the Integration of NEPAD into the Structures and Processes of the African Union.

The PRC meeting will be followed by the 15th Ordinary Session of the AU ministers of Foreign Affairs, who constitute the Executive Council that will meet on 28 June.

For their part, the foreign ministers will elect members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), and the members of the African Union Commission on International Law (AUCIL).

The ministers will also consider the Report of the AU Joint Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, Land and Livestock, as well as the Report of the 2nd Joint AU/ECA Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, among others.

The meetings are being held ahead of the 13th AU Heads of State and Governance Summit, which President Jacob Zuma will also participate in.

The session is expected to focus on, among others, the transformation of the AU Commission into an Authority as part of the goal of setting up the United States of Africa.

The Heads of State will hold their session amid the call to deal with the conflict in Madagascar, the unorthodox indictment of Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir at the International Criminal Court and the global economic crunch.

They will consider the report of the Chairperson of NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee; the Chairperson of the Committee of Ten on the UN Reforms; the Chairperson of the Committee of Ten on the UN Reforms; the Report of the Commission on the new African Union Flag.

They will brainstorm on the progress report of the Commission on the Implementation of the Assembly decision on the Hissene Habre Case as adopted by the Twelfth Ordinary Session of the Assembly, among others.

The host, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who is also the current chairman of the AU, has however set the tune by asking African leaders to consider withdrawing their membership from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for "warped justice in favour of Europe."

Africa feels that the ICC is being manipulated by the West at the expense of justice itself and is calling for strategic reform, hence the need to come up with a resolution in support of reforms.

Mr Gaddafi also envisages a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans to move freely around the continent.

Some officials, particularly from countries more favourable towards Libya, have expressed a positive outlook towards the plan, while admitting it will take some time to implement.

But many have privately expressed deep concern over issues like state sovereignty. Others felt the divisions across the continent over the matter were simply too deep to overcome at this time.

The previous summit struck a minimum compromise by proposing to change the name of the AU commission to "Authority of the Union".

It is expected that the Tripoli meeting will look at the proposed authority's functions and size and the financial consequences of establishing this authority.

The theme for the summit is "Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security," and in this light, the African leaders, are also expected to discuss the investment in agriculture in order to achieve economic growth and food security on the continent.

The new Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa chairman, Zimbabwe's President Mugabe, is expected to give a more experienced and practical take on African agriculture.

President Mugabe is expected to play a key role on how Africans can use their own land for greater agricultural production, a sector that remains in the hands of many white farmers in the rest of Africa.