Friday, April 12, 2013

AU begin campaign to popularise its ‘year of African shared values’

African Union Commission Chair Dr. Dlamini-Zum...
African Union Commission Chair Dr. Dlamini-Zuma (Photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection)
African Union, AU, has on Monday set in motion a campaign to sensitize Africans on the new AU agenda, the “African Shared Values”.

The AU has since declared 2012 as a Year of African Shared Values.

Our shared values are the provisions that we have agreed on when our heads of states adopted the charters, treaties, and all AU instruments we have today, AU’s acting Director of Political Affairs Sallah Hammed told journalists in Banjul on April 8, 2013.

The press briefing is part of effort to sensitize Africans on the new AU agenda, says Mr Hammed ahead of the April 9 opening of the 53rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ACHPR, which is ending on April 23.

The shared values cover provision from liberty, respect, good governance, and public service, to everything agreed to by the AU. The purpose of calling it African shared values is to bring a sense of unity to the process of integration that the AU is aiming for, FPI is told.

Formerly of the OAU, the AU will be celebrating 50 this year as an assembly of heads of states and governments of Africa.

Hammed said the AU is working on one thing, that is, to unite the continent based on African shared values. But, he notes, there are challenges.

Emblem of the African Union
Emblem of the African Union (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“The challenges confronting the AU are interactions on the issue of shared values,” he said. “The lack of political will is another challenge.”

Now the AU is trying to engage people on the issue of shared values and trying to identify even more shared values at all levels – continental, national, and individual – and how we can share the information, get the people involved.

While Hammed calls on member states to support the process of integration.

Africa is only 50 years old and has spent the first 30 years fighting for independence from colonialist like Britain, France and Portugal.

Free press

The African continent is one of the most repressive regarding freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and the AU knows it need a much freer press to pass its agenda to over a billion Africans.

“At some point we thought that we have enough provision to protect our journalists in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” Hammed said. “However, AU realised later on that there is the need to strengthen the existing provisions on press freedom and free expression in Africa.”

As a result, Hammed said “the AU’s department of political affairs is currently engaged with the African Commission and a number of media representatives and civil society organisations to introduce new provisions that would clearly ensure the safety of our journalists and also a free press in Africa.”

“We are now working on a law to ensure freedom of expression and another laws to ensure freedom of association,” he noted.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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