Briefing Paper

Should All Africa’s States Join the APRM?

When the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) – Africa’s governance monitoring and promotion instrument – was launched on 9 March 2003, it was voluntary. Given the sensitivity of governance reviews, its voluntary nature was deemed necessary, as reviews ultimately require members to partially cede their sovereignty and open themselves up to scrutiny by their citizens and their peers. Accession was seen as a deliberate demonstration of the particular country’s commitment to open government, transparency, good governance, accountability and policy reform. Currently, 40 of the 55 African states are members of the APRM, and it has set 2023 as its target for universal accession. It has always aspired to be both voluntary and universal – entailing a choice to join by individual countries and a collective expectation that every African state would make that choice. This policy insight explores the implications of this goal. The APRM still has the potential to improve governance in Africa, but to do that it needs to be more focused. This means ensuring that all of its members have undergone first reviews, and that those that already have are implementing their National Programmes of Action (NPoAs) and preparing for the second reviews.