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Towards good governance and sustainable development: the African Peer Review Mechanism

Practitioner Perspective

Kempe Ronald Hope, SR.1

United Nations

Posted with permission of the author. Comments on the paper can be sent to: hopekr@excite.com
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To accomplish the objectives and the outcomes of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), African leaders have agreed, among other things, to subject their countries to peer review through the use of a unique and innovative African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). This paper analytically describes and assesses the APRM. It contends that peer review represents a sea of change in the thinking of African leaders as they seek to reverse the trend of lack of accountability, political authoritarianism, state failure, and corruption to embrace and consolidate democracy as well as effect sound and transparent economic management. It is further argued that peer review would provide a number of benefits to those countries that subject themselves to it and that, in turn, would have positive multiplier effects on Africa’s development performance.

Introduction

To accomplish the objectives and the outcomes of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)—an initiative that represents the latest attempt by African leaders to place the African continent on a path of sustainable development encompassing good governance and prosperity with a consolidation of peace, security, and stability—African leaders have agreed, among other things, to subject their countries to peer review through the use of a unique and innovative African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). The APRM will cover issues, codes, and standards pertaining to governance and sustainable development. It will be used to assess the performance of African countries in terms of their compliance with a number of agreed codes, standards, and commitments that underpin the good governance and sustainable development framework. The NEPAD emanated from the view of a new generation of enlightened African leaders that Africans and Africa both hold the key and the capacity to extricate themselves from poverty and global marginalization. Moreover, it was recognized that this needed to be done with some urgency to stake Africa’s claim to the twenty-first century. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, per capita income in sub-Saharan Africa was 10 percent below the level reached in 1980. In other words, the majority of the countries on the continent were worse off than they were two decades ago. Despite being one of the most richly endowed regions of the world, Africa remains the poorest continent (Hope 2002a). According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP 2004), human development in sub-Saharan Africa has actually regressed in recent years, and poor people are now worse off. The share of people living on US$1 per day increased to 47 percent by 2001 from 45 percent in 1990 (United Nations 2004; World Bank 2004). A recent study by Elsa Artadi and Xavier Sala-i-Martin puts the proportion of the population in sub-Saharan Africa living on less than US$1 a day at close to 60 percent in 2000.

This paper analytically describes and assesses the APRM within the framework of the NEPAD initiative. It contends that peer review represents a sea of change in the thinking of African leaders as they seek to reverse the trend of lack of accountability, political authoritarianism, state failure, and corruption to embrace and consolidate democracy as well as effect sound and transparent economic management. In addition, it is further argued that peer review would provide a number of benefits to those countries that subject themselves to it and that, in turn, would have positive multiplier effects on Africa’s development performance.


Footnote:

  1. United Nations (U.N.). The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of the U.N.


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