The African Diaspora whether historic or modern, tend to generate a lot of interest in the fields of research, development and others. By transitioning from the Organization of the African Unity (OAU) to the African union (AU), the continent declared that it realized the dream of independence, and is now progressing towards development, peace and security. The African Union also set a precedent when it declared the AU a people centered organization principally because the dream of the continent cannot be realized without the participation of all its citizens, including those who live outside the continent, otherwise known as the diaspora. The amendment of the Constitutive Act came as no surprise to include Article 3q which invites and encourages the participation of the Diaspora in the Union.
In the outset of its engagement with the diaspora, the AU set to define the African diaspora as “peoples of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union”.
The AU then embarked on facilitating the participation of the diaspora in the African Union. This has, throughout the years been clearly articulated in Executive Council decisions EX.CL/Dec.221(VII) and EX.CL/Dec.406(XII) and Assembly decision Assembly/AU/Dec.443(XIX). The decisions speak to the importance of examining the modalities of participation of the diaspora in the AU programmes, structures and organs in general and the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) in particular. The decisions also entrust this responsibility to the African Union Commission to ensure a holistic approach.
The particularity afforded to the African Union - Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) is due to the fact that ECOSOCC, through its statutes has allocated 20 of its 150 seats to CSOs from the Diaspora. The modalities outlining the membership and election of the Diaspora into ECOSOCC is yet to be determined, hence why to date, no diaspora have been represented through an election process.
The African Union Commission through the Directorate of the Citizens and Diaspora organizations (CIDO) set out to unpack and interpret the different decisions of the union and put forward a proposal regarding the participation of the diaspora in the African Union, including but not limited to the membership and election of diaspora into ECOSOCC. This task currently being carried out, is entirely led and managed by the African Union Commission-CIDO, with funding support provided by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).
Ahmed El Basheer