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The African Peer Review Mechanism: lessons from the pioneers
Ross Herbert & Steven Gruzd
Source of the information:
Without doubt, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is one of the boldest ideas that African leaders have come up with in the recent past. It is potentially the most important reform ever to emerge from the continent and may mark the start of a new kind of African diplomacy. This book is therefore intended as a guide that would both analyse the internal dynamics of the APRM and offer concrete proposals to help participants make the most of the opportunities it offers.
The guide provides the following findings:
Government, as the signatory to the APRM, has the power to initiate action and can choose whether to run an open and transparent process or one more heavily controlled by government. However, civil society has many options to persuade government to manage the process in particular ways, but it cannot set the rules or force government to adopt particular approaches
Through a participatory process, the APRM will engage key stakeholders to facilitate the exchange of information and national dialogue on good governance and socio-economic development programmes, thereby increasing the transparency of the decision-making processes, and building trust in the pursuit of national development goals
The organisation of public participation in the APRM process is by itself a central aspect of enhancing the state of governance and socioeconomic development in the participating country. Such interactions can build trust, establish and clarify mechanisms for ongoing engagement and empowerment of stakeholders.
The guide provides the following recommendations:
Governments should acknowledge that the public will expect to play a prominent role in the process and expect to be consulted before decisions are taken about the process and governing structures
To reassure both government and civil society, particularly in situations affected by substantial political tensions or distrust, it would be useful before any governance structure is chosen for all parties to commit publicly to a set of principles that all pledge to uphold in the conduct of the process
Officials on National Governing Councils should frequently engage with newspapers, magazines, radio and television as a good way to get the public talking and to start getting civil society ready to provide well-formed submissions.