n Institute for Security Studies Papers - United States of Africa : positioning the Pan-African Parliament and Court in the political union debate

Volume 2007, Issue 142
  • ISSN : 1026-0404



The dream of a United Africa has been alive since the heyday of the great and visionary African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah. Attractive as the idea is in a world in which small entities tend towards joining together to form bigger economic and political units, the decision to form such a union is only one step in a journey that may prove, as history teaches, to be one of a thousand miles. A host of preliminary issues require critical reflection. Joining the reflection on what it would take to institute a continental political union, this paper, which offers some thoughts on the subject, focuses on two arms of the possible government: the Pan-African Parliament and the future African Court of Justice and Human Rights (a proposed merger between the African Court of Justice and the Africa Court of Human Rights). The paper argues that whatever model may be chosen for the political union, reforms of the two institutions as currently constituted will be an absolute necessity. With respect to the African Court, the suggestion is made that reform should take the form of three possible models: the Supreme Court of the United States (the highest court in a federal system), the European Court of Justice (the highest court in a 'confederate' system) or a hybrid format, depending on the powers vested in it. With respect to the African Parliament, the argument along similar lines is that the scope of its legislative mandate will depend on the nature and structure of the political union adopted. In the paper some of the elements of the institutions in Europe and the USA that may enlighten the current political endeavour are outlined.

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