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The government ministries develop policy in close cooperation with external bodies and often with the policy aim of influencing these authorities to continue or to extend their assistance. The institutions and mechanisms of governance of African states are often no longer separable from the international mechanisms of governance with which they are engaged. And, if they fail, this does not reflect on the Western states and institutions involved.

International assistance may be necessary, but it is never sufficient to establish institutions that are legitimate and sustainable…international action should be seen first and foremost as facilitating local processes, providing resources and creating the space for local actors….

Mr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa

The emphasis is on African states to bear the accountability in the case of their failure to live up to the ambitious ethical claims made by Western states and international institutions. Far from Western powers and institutions projecting a confident transformative project, the assertion of external power is held to be merely one of facilitating, empowering, and capacity-building African states.

The projection of Western power takes the form of a non-political discourse where political interests are held to be subservient to the technical expertise of administration. Most importantly, the desire to deny Western influence and agency means that non-Western state institutions are increasingly colonised by external policy actors as international institutions seek to informalise their role in policy-making.

This creates artificial state institutions which have a much more attenuated relationship with their own societies but also little influence with regard to policy negotiations with external actors.


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The close liaison between international institutions and international NGOs and leading government ministries has been driven by the informalisation of the regulatory process and the desire to avoid an open intergovernmental discussion of economic policy. It is this desire for evasion that would appear to be driving the shift from international to domestic discussion and the focus on empowerment and state capacity, rather than any shift in the content of the policies or any desire to open up policymaking to wider consultation and involvement. The shift from the projection of Western influence as a coercive external relation to a relationship of domestic partnership removes the emphasis on external accountability for policy and its outcomes.

This has made the empowering practices of African state-building the central sphere of intervention for Western assertions of international policy purpose or mission, and in the course of this process, both the foreign policy-making of Western states and the political sphere of non-Western states have been increasingly reduced to narrow technocratic and administrative concerns. The governance sphere of non-Western states is both the target for Western interventions and the excuse for their rhetoric not being matched by reality.

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David Chandler is professor of international relations at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster. Forgot password? You must be logged in to comment. Log in or Register now. Essays, profiles and in-depth features, every Sunday. Topics Books. Denying responsibility External intervention is exercised in ways that blur traditional understandings of external and internal interests. Conclusion Far from Western powers and institutions projecting a confident transformative project, the assertion of external power is held to be merely one of facilitating, empowering, and capacity-building African states.

Tim Black Books. Alexander Adams Books. Emily Hill Books.


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The Commission is of the view that the competence given to it over immigration matters under Articles 45 2 and 12 of the Charter, does not overlap with the mandate of the Executive Council, under Article 13 1 j of the Constitutive Act, over the same matters because the two bodies do not perform the same kind of activity. While the Commission is an international quasi-judicial institution established to promote and protect the rights enshrined in the African Charter, the Executive Council is a political organ, which "coordinate[s] and take[s] decisions on policies in areas of common interest to the member states [of the African Union], including Having dealt with the preliminary objections raised by the Respondent State regarding the existence and jurisdiction of the Commission, the latter will now proceed to make a determination on the Admissibility or otherwise of this Communication.

The Admissibility of Communications submitted before the African Commission in accordance with Article 55 is governed by the requirements of Article 56 of the African Charter. In terms of Article "communications relating to human and peoples' rights referred to in Article 55 received by the Commission, shall be considered if they:.

Are not written in disparaging or insulting language directed against the State concerned and its institutions or to the Organisation of African Unity,. Are sent after exhausting local remedies, if any, unless it is obvious that this procedure is unduly prolonged,. Are submitted within a reasonable period from the time local remedies are exhausted or from the date the Commission is seized with the matter, and. Do not deal with cases which have been settled by those States involved in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, or the Charter of the Organisation of African Unity or the provisions of the present Charter".

The African Commission is of the view that this Communication establishes a prima facie violation of the provisions of the African Charter, and is compatible with both the Constitutive Act of the African Union and the African Charter. The African Commission also does not believe that there has been any use of a disparaging or insulting language against the Government of the Republic of Botswana or any of its institutions or the African Union.

Regarding the disclosure of documents, the Commission finds that the documents submitted by the Complainants in support of the claim sufficiently prove that the Communication is not based on fiction or on news disseminated by the mass media.

The Commission concurs, therefore, that the condition of Article 56 4 has been met. The Commission also notes that all the documents submitted by the Complainants have been disclosed to the Respondent State. The Commission recalls its established jurisprudence whereby the exhaustion of local remedies referred to in Article 56 5 'entails remedy sought from the courts of a judicial nature. In the present Communication, the victim challenged the decision expelling him from Botswana before the domestic courts.

His application before the High Court of Botswana was dismissed, as was a further appeal that he filed with the Court of Appeal, the highest judicial authority in Botswana. The Commission finds therefore that all local remedies have been exhausted. The Commission is of the view that the presidential review referred to by the Respondent State is not of a judicial nature and is subject to the discretionary power of the President, the very authority that ordered the expulsion of the victim.

The Commission considers that such a remedy is not effective and the victim is not obliged to utilise it. The Commission further finds that the other arguments [FN64] submitted by the State against the Admissibility of the Communication are based on substantive rights protected under the Charter, including the rights, the violation of which is complained of by the applicant, to such an extent that dealing with them at this stage of the procedure would be pushing the Commission to jump the gun to consider the Communication on the Merits.

The Commission therefore will not pronounce on them but would rather deal with them at the appropriate stage. From the above submissions, this Commission is of the view that the present Communication sufficiently complies with the requirements under Article 56, relating to the Admissibility of Communications before the African Commission and thus decides to declare the Communication Admissible.

The main thrust of the State's objection is that the Commission's procedure relating to the handling of Communications was not followed with regards to the present Communication. According to the State, Rule of the Commission's Rules of Procedure was not respected, and as a result, both parties to the Communication, the Respondent State and the Complainants, made submissions to the Commission at almost the same time, making it difficult to respond to issues raised by either party.

The Respondent State submits that the Commission had asked both parties to submit their arguments on the Merits, giving both parties the same deadline. Both parties sent their arguments to the Secretariat of the Commission at almost the same time, and the Commission then forwarded the submissions of either party to the other for comments, if any.

The Respondent State contends that this procedure deprives it from properly addressing the issues raised by the Complainants as it was not availed a copy of the Complainants' submission prior to the Respondent State making its own submission. In the words of the Respondent State 'it prejudices Botswana greatly in that the applicant has effectively been afforded an undue opportunity to strengthen his case, to the extent that the submissions filed by him raise very many new matters of fact and law which our arguments, as is to be expected, do not deal with'.

The Respondent State concluded that the Complainants' supplementary submissions on the Merits be purged off the record.

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Referring to Rule of the African Commission's Rules of Procedure, the State maintains that it was supposed to have submitted first and the Complainants given the opportunity to reply within a time fixed by the Commission, in accordance with Rule 3. The Commission will thus, first deal with the preliminary issue raised by the Respondent State before proceeding to make a determination on the Merits of the Communication.

In the present Communication, after declaring the case Admissible at the Commission's 41st Ordinary Session, the Secretariat, by Note Verbale of 20 June , and letter of the same date, informed both parties and requested them to submit their arguments on the Merits within three months from the date of notification. On 5 October , the Secretariat received the Complainants' submissions on the Merits of the Communication. On 22 October , the Secretariat forwarded the submissions of the Respondent State to the Complainants, and the Complainants to the Respondent State. The purpose of requiring parties to make submissions to the Commission is so that they appreciate the concerns of each other and try to address them as best as they can.

That is why the Commission adopted Rules of Procedure governing, among other things, the receipt and consideration of Communications. Rule of the Commission's Rules of Procedure seek to guide the Commission regarding the procedure to adopt after a Communication has been declared Admissible. In terms of Rule 1 'if the Commission decides that a Communication is admissible The author of the communication shall also be informed of the Commission's decision Rule 2 provides further that the State Party From the above two paragraphs of Rule , it is the view of the Commission that when a Communication is declared Admissible, both parties must be notified of the decision.

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While the African Charter obliges the Commission to submit its decisions and other relevant texts relating to its decision on Admissibility to the State Party, it simply requires the Commission to inform the author of the Communication. This presupposes that the Respondent State is the one that is expected to make submissions on the 'merits', to, in the words of the Charter, provide 'explanations or statements elucidating the issue under consideration and indicating, if possible, measures it was able to take to remedy the situation'.

This interpretation is supported when one turns to Rule 3 which provides that 'all explanations or statements submitted by a State Party pursuant to the present Rule shall be communicated It is clear from the above, that after declaring a Communication admissible, both parties are informed of the decision, but the Respondent State is further requested to make submissions on the matter being considered. The Respondent State seems to be satisfied that the Note Verbale of 20 June inviting it to make submissions on the Merits 'was the correct step'. However, the Respondent State contends that if the Complainants were also invited to make submissions on the merits 'that was a defective step and clearly the Commission will be guilty of breaking its own procedural rules'.

The procedure of letting one party submit first and inviting the other to respond will give both parties the opportunity to address the issues or concerns of the other. This exchange of submissions between the State and the author of the Communication can continue until the Commission is satisfied that it has had enough information to make a decision on the matter.

The African Commission thus concurs with the Respondent State that when parties are asked to submit at the same time, it does not give both of them the opportunity to respond to issues that are raised by the other party. This notwithstanding, the practice of the Commission is clear. Where it receives submissions from one party, it sends the same to the other party for their comments. Thus, even if the parties make submissions at the same time, the other party is not prejudiced in any way because they are still given an opportunity to respond to the submissions before the Commission can make a determination.

This was the situation with respect to the present Communication. The Secretariat received the State's submissions on 12 October and sent same to the Complainants on 22 October Thus, the Respondent State was sent the Complainant's submissions and the Complainants were sent the State's submissions, and both parties were entitled to send comments, if any. Thus, even though Rule was not followed to the letter, the Respondent State has not indicated how it was prejudiced by this lapse, to the advantage of the Complainants. The Respondent State has been given an equal opportunity to respond to the submissions of the Complainants just as the Complainants have been given an opportunity to respond to the State's submissions.