State of the Union was a Compliance Research hosted by the National Advocacy Platform (NAP) for the State of the Union (SOTU) project in Malawi. NAP is a coalition of civil society organizations and citizen groups that advocates for the ratification, domestication and implementation of key African Union policy and legal instruments to track and audit the implementation of AU charters and protocols. The fourteen legal instruments and policy standards, if implemented, promised tremendous benefits for the people. In Malawi, the Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) and Eye for Development (EFD) were the co-hosts of the SOTU project on behalf of NAP to conduct research to review country compliance and status of implementation of the selected AU instruments. The ultimate goal was to help the different stakeholders to refocus, refine and rediscover the best strategies for domestication and implementation on the basis of the findings.
The study team comprised of Dr. Boniface Dulani (Lead Researcher), Peter Beza (Research Associate) and Richard Wasili (Research Assistant). It involved a mini survey and key informant interviews. Data was collected from selected respondents that included members of Civil Society Organizations, Members of Parliament, government officials, the Judiciary and the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
The AU instruments which were reviewed include the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (1990); AU Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003); African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child(1990); Abuja Call for Accelerated Action Towards Universal Access to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Other Related Infectious Diseases Services (2001); Maputo Plan of Action for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights 2007-2010 (2006), Africa Health Strategy: 2007–2015; African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (2003); the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007); Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (Abuja Treaty); African Youth Charter; African Convention on Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources; the NEPAD-Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan (CAADP); Africa Mining Vision; and Sharm El-Sheikh Commitments for Accelerating the Achievement of Water and Sanitation Goals in Africa (2008).
The findings of this study discovered that in terms of ratification, there was no progress from 2014 as only 13 of the 14 AU instruments that were being championed had so far been ratified. However, there was progress registered in terms of popularization of African Union instruments with increased knowledge and discussion of African Union protocols, both within the civil society sector and within the public sector. Based on the findings, the study recommended that in order to address numerous challenges identified (poor coordination among key sectoral ministries; overreliance on existing legislation and low knowledge of the instruments), there is need for increased awareness efforts. It also recommended that both the civil society and government should intensify efforts aimed at sensitizing the public and other key stakeholders on the existence of the protocols but also continued and increased coordination between various actors.