The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) is one of the nine organs proposed in the 1991 Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (Abuja Treaty). Its purpose, as set out in article 17 of the AU Constitutive Act, is “to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of the continent”. The Parliament is intended as a platform for people from all African states to be involved in discussions and decision-making on the problems and challenges facing the continent. The Parliament sits in Midrand, South Africa.
While the long-term aim is for the Parliament to exercise full legislative powers, its current mandate is to exercise advisory and consultative powers. The Parliament has up to 250 members representing the 50 AU Member States that have ratified the Protocol establishing it (five members per Member State).1 Under rule 7 of the PAP Rules of Procedure, a parliamentarian’s tenure of office begins on the date he or she is elected or designated as a Member of Parliament.
A parliamentarian’s term should correspond to his or her own national parliament term or any other deliberative organ that elected or designated the parliamentarian.
The long-term aim is for the Parliament to hold direct elections by universal suffrage. The PAP’s functions are set out in the 2001 Protocol to the Abuja Treaty relating to the Pan-African Parliament and in its Rules of Procedure. These include to:
- Facilitate effective implementation of the OAU/African Economic Community’s (AEC’s) policies and objectives and, ultimately, the AU
- Work towards the harmonisation or coordination of Member States’ laws
- Make recommendations aimed at contributing to the attainment of the OAU/AEC’s objectives and draw attention to the challenges facing the integration process in Africa as well as the strategies for dealing with them
- Request OAU/AEC officials to attend its sessions, produce documents or assist in the discharge of its duties
- Promote the OAU/AEC’s programmes and objectives in Member States’ constituencies
- Encourage good governance, transparency and accountability in Member States
- Familiarise the peoples of Africa with the objectives and policies aimed at integrating the African continent within the framework of the AU’s establishment
- Promote the coordination and harmonisation of policies, measures, programmes and activities of Africa’s parliamentary forums.
The PAP adopts its own Rules of Procedure. These include provisions governing its functions, powers, voting, organs, committees and caucuses.
During its June 2014 Summit, the AU Assembly adopted the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union on the Pan-African Parliament (Assembly/AU/Dec.529(XXIII)). Similarly, the Executive Council also decided that the PAP may on its own make proposals on the subjects and areas on which it may submit or recommend draft Model Laws to the Assembly for its consideration and approval (EX.CL/Dec.835(XXV)).
The PAP originated with the Abuja Treaty (1991), which called for the establishment of a parliament to ensure that the peoples of Africa are fully involved in the economic development and integration of the continent. The Sirte Declaration (1999) repeated the call for early establishment. The Protocol Establishing the Pan-African Parliament was adopted at the 2001 OAU Summit in Sirte, Libya. The Parliament’s first session was held in March 2004.
PAP representatives are elected by the legislatures of their Member State, rather than being elected directly by the people. In addition to the full Assembly of Parliament, the PAP has 10 permanent committees.
Under rule 28 of the PAP’s Rules of Procedure, the Parliament should meet at least twice in ordinary session within a one-year period. Parliamentary sessions can last for up to one month. Under rule 29, the PAP can meet in extraordinary session.
AU member states that have ratified the PAP protocol (50)
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sahrawi Republic, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, UR of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe
- The number of Member States represented may vary over time, where states are under sanction.
- The Central African Republic was suspended from the AU in March 2013 and is under sanction from the Pan-African Parliament.
Parliaments and Presidents since 2004
First Parliament: March 2004 to October 2009
President: Gertrude Mongella, UR of Tanzania
Second Parliament: October 2009 to May 2012
President: Idriss Ndele Moussa, Chad
Third Parliament: May 2012 to May 2015
President: Bethel Nnaemeka Amadi, Nigeria
Office holders: Third Parliament (May 2012 to May 2015)
President: Bethel Nnaemeka Amadi, Nigeria (Western Africa) Vice-President, Central Africa: Roger Nkodo Dang, Cameroon Vice-President, Eastern Africa: Juliana Kantengwa, Rwanda
Vice-President, Northern Africa: Suilma Hay Emhamed Elkaid, Sahrawi Republic
Vice-President, Southern Africa: Loide Kasingo, Namibia
The PAP has nine permanent committees and one ad hoc committee, all of which discuss thematic issues. Under rule 28 of the PAP Rules of Procedure on ordinary sessions, the permanent committees meet twice a year (March and August) for statutory meetings.
The permanent committees can meet more often during parliamentary sessions or for non-statutory meetings.
The committees are listed as follows. Membership lists can be found at www.panafricanparliament.org (follow the link for ‘Documents & Resources’ and click on the tab of the relevant committee).
Committee on Education, Culture, Tourism and Human Resources
The Committee considers issues concerned with the development of human resources in Member States. It assists the Parliament with policy development and implementation of programmes on issues of access to education, promotion of culture and tourism, and human resource development.
Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolution
The Committee considers policy issues on international cooperation and international relations on behalf of the Parliament and AU. It also deals with conventions and protocols linking the Parliament with regional and international institutions. The Committee examines revisions of
AU protocols and treaties and provides assistance to the Parliament in its conflict prevention and resolution efforts.
Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disabilities
The Committee considers issues relating to the promotion of gender equality and assists the Parliament to oversee the development of AU policies and activities relating to family, youth and people with disabilities.
Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs
The Committee examines the Parliamentary budget draft estimates. It also examines the AU budget and makes recommendations. The Committee reports to the Parliament on any problems involved in the implementation of the annual AU and PAP budgets. It advises the Parliament on economic, monetary and investment policies.
Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters
The Committee deals with matters relating to the development of policy for cross-border, regional and continental concerns within the areas of trade (primarily external trade), customs and immigration. It assists the Parliament to oversee relevant organs or institutions and AU policies relating to trade.
Committee on Health, Labour and Social Affairs
The Committee works to support the implementation of social development, labour and health policies and programmes throughout the AU, including through regional and international cooperation strategies.
Committee on Transport, Industry, Communications, Energy, Science and Technology
The Committee deals with the development of transport and communications infrastructure. It assists the Parliament to oversee the development and implementation of AU policies relating to transport, communication, energy, science and technology, and industry.
Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline
The Committee assists the Parliament Bureau to interpret and apply the PAP Rules of Procedure, as well as matters relating to privileges and discipline. It considers requests for ‘waivers of immunity’ submitted under the Rules of Procedure and examines cases of
indiscipline. The Committee also considers proposals for amending the Rules of Procedure.
Committee on Justice and Human Rights
The Committee assists the Parliament in its role of harmonising and coordinating Member States’ laws. It advocates for respect within the AU of the principles of freedom, civil liberties, justice, human and peoples’ rights, and fundamental rights.
Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment
The Committee considers the development of common regional and continental policies in the agricultural sector. It provides assistance to the Parliament to oversee and promote the harmonisation of policies for rural and agricultural development as well as the AU’s natural resources and environmental policies.
Under rule 83 of the Rules of Procedure, each region should form a regional caucus composed of its members. There are five caucuses:
- Central Africa
- Eastern Africa
- Northern Africa
- Southern Africa
- Western Africa.
The Rules of Procedure also provide for other types of caucuses to be established to deal with issues of common interest as the PAP deems necessary. There are two such caucuses:
Under rule 28, the caucuses meet in ordinary session twice a year during parliamentary sessions. Each caucus has a bureau comprising a chairperson, deputy chairperson and rapporteur.
Membership lists for each bureau can be found at www.panafricanparliament.org (follow the tabs ‘About PAP’, ‘Structure of the PAP’ and ‘Permanent Committees’).
The Pan-African Parliament Trust Fund was established on 26 May 2005 to promote: good governance; transparency and democracy; peace, security and stability; gender equality; and development in the integration of African people within Africa and other nations. The Fund is also expected to support the fight against HIV/AIDS, hunger and poverty in Africa.
Pan-African Parliament (PAP)
Private Bag X16
Internet: www.panafricanparliament.org Facebook: www.facebook.com/africanparliament Twitter: @PanAfrican_Parl
Tel: +27 11 545 5000
Fax: +27 11 545 5136
President: Bethel Nnaemeka Amadi, Nigeria (elected for the duration of the Third Parliament, May 2012 to May 2015)