6 – 7 March, 2024 (Victoria, Seychelles) – The Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) was a proud partner in the joint ECOSOCC-PAP, two organs of the African Union (AU), on the ratification process of the Free Movement Protocol (FMP) in Africa, given the obvious complementarity of their mandates and the potential these organs have in mobilising support for the ratification.

Indeed, as part of its mandate to popularize the policies and programmes of the AU, the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) has successfully held several activities to popularize and increase the ratification for implementation of the FMP within AU member states. The ECOSOCC further sees the need to mobilise support from relevant AU organs and partners, whereby institutions like the Pan African Parliament (PAP), as the legislative organ of the AU were established to ensure the full participation of African people in the economic development and integration of the continent, is also uniquely positioned to influence the law-making agenda at national levels.

Adopted in 2018 by the AU, the FMP will only come into effect after 15 ratifications by AU Member States. To date, only four Member States have ratified, thus it is yet to come into effect, hindering its implementation. There is therefore an urgent need to mobilise support for its ratification and subsequent implementation, but ratification of the FMP is contingent on the existence of political will, making PAP lawmakers play a pivotal role in fostering the necessary political will and ensure it translates into action through ratification, especially through its Committee on Trade, Customs, and Immigration Matters.

PALU as an implementing partner of the activity, actively participated in deliberations on important topics such as` the situation of migration and free movement in Africa, the national perspectives on the state of free movement, the challenges and concerns hindering its ratification, and the avenues for peer exchanges on advocacy methods among parliamentarians and CSOs.

Among its recommendations, the joint meeting highlighted the following:
• Intensive Sensitization Campaigns: Intensify campaigns to raise awareness among policymakers, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, and the public about the Free Movement Protocol, focusing on its objectives, principles, benefits, and addressing concerns.
• Capacity Building: Implement initiatives to enhance understanding and implementation of the protocol through training programs for policymakers, immigration officials, and stakeholders at national and regional levels.
• Harmonization of Laws: Make efforts to harmonize national laws and regulations with the provisions of the Free Movement Protocol to ensure consistency and smooth implementation, through legislative reforms and collaboration among Member States and Regional Economic Communities.
• Engagement with Stakeholders: Engage with a wide range of stakeholders, including governments, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, and regional bodies, through collaborative efforts and dialogue platforms to exchange best practices and facilitate coordination.
• Maintain continuous dialogue and education among policymakers, civil society organizations, and the public to address concerns and build momentum for ratification and implementation.

Another sensitization event is scheduled for 18-19 April 2024, in Accra, Ghana, of which PALU will once again be a proud partner.

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