Base fontsize
Larger fontsize
Set contrast

African Peer Review Mechanism

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:

  1. The country under review first assesses itself by means of a standard questionnaire divided into four sections: democracy and political governance, economic governance and management, corporate governance, and socio-economic development. The questions aim at assessing compliance with a wide range of African and international human rights treaties and standards. In parallel, the APRM Secretariat produces a background study of the country's governance and development. This report is shared with the country under review. Taking into consideration also this report, the country is invited to draft a preliminary Programme of Action.
  2. In the second stage, an specifically nominated review team visits the country and studies it in depth. The review team will get in contact with all relevant stakeholders like the government, government officials, political parties, parliamentarians and representatives of civil society organizations.
  3. The review team and the APRM secretariat then draft a report based on the findings of the review visit and the results of stage one. This report is discussed subsequently with the country under review. The country should now prepare a final Programme of Action wherein further actions are proposed.
  4. The review report will then be submitted to the APR Forum consisting of heads of state and government of the participating countries for consideration and formulation of actions deemed necessary. This stage is where the actual ‘peer pressure’ is supposed to be applied if in the final Programme of Action shortcomings are not remedied in an appropriate way.
  5. In the last stage of the APRM, the report of the APR Forum with all essential elements is made public. It is also presented to relevant organizations, like the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights.

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:

Last change: 04.05.10 - 09:33