The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is part of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which since 2001 is an important socio-economic development programme of the African Union. The APRM is a voluntary self-monitoring mechanism, in which AU member states evaluate each other’s quality of governance. The overall purpose is to improve the governance of African states which includes as well improvements of their commitment to human rights.
On 1 December 2009, 29 of the 53 AU member states participated in the APRM. A country formally joins the APRM upon signing and depositing the Memorandum of Understanding that was agreed upon on 9 March 2003, at the NEPAD and APRM Secretariat based in Midrand, South Africa.
The APRM is a five-stage process:
When the review process is completed – it should not require more than six months, but often takes longer – the country is supposed to implement its revised Programme of Action. The next cycle would start two to four years later.
A panel of eminent personalities appointed by the APRM Secretariat impartially oversees the implementation of the APRM throughout Africa. The APRM is a pan-African process with great potential. It has the big advantage to be seen as an African-driven approach for which the African states claim ownership. That helps to share best practice. The APRM is also a good opportunity for civil society to participate in the national human rights discourse.
One main criticism of the ARPM is that the process takes too much time. However, the APRM’s biggest challenge is that countries are not always able to muster the resources and capacity required to implement the recommendations. Some national programmes of action emanating from the APRM thus are not sufficiently implemented and also the monitoring of progress of achievement.
UNDP is one of the multilateral donors of the APRM; the African Development Bank also partially funds the APRM.
There is no direct way to claim human rights within the framework of the APRM, but it is an innovate instrument that human rights NGOs / CSOs can use to make their voice heard. The country review reports for the participating countries may be a valuable background resource for an individual plaintiff claiming a violation of his/her human rights.
More information and the final country reports can be found here: www.aprm-international.org