State–civil society relations: the potential contribution of the African Peer Review Mechanism

State–civil society relations: the potential contribution of the African Peer Review Mechanism

The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is Africa’s home-grown governance promotion and monitoring tool. It has made one of its priorities the involvement of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the assessment of national initiatives.

This experience has the potential to transform non-state actors from adversaries into partners in governance. The process, however, often falters, and faces challenges. These include uncomfortable relations, CSO capacity constraints, inconsistent application of the principle of inclusion, and the difficulty of maintaining momentum after completion of the review.

The author thinks that countries should build on the gains made from citizens and governments working together. APRM reviews should serve as a blueprint for strengthening contributions from a wide range of CSOs in national policy debates and policy implementation.

Recommendations comprise:

  • governments should sustain and promote the partnership created in the APRM review phase by involving civil society directly in the implementation phase – in disseminating and publicising national plans of actions, in monitoring and evaluation and in reporting progress
  • they should include CSO representatives in delegations to important APRM-related continental dialogues, especially on identified common issues and national best practices
  • CSOs and the research community should initiate research into civil society involvement in the APRM after review, including the reception of, and reaction to, the findings
  • they should leverage exposure to CSO-government dynamics to identify further areas of possible collaboration and sustained policy dialogue opportunities with state entities
  • they also should explore opportunities for cross-national peer learning and develop strategies to use those opportunities for information sharing and capacity building


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