The Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) programmes are designed to build a Pan African organisation with the requisite corporate governance ethos, systems, and structures to provide leadership on the African continent for lawyer-led initiatives that contribute towards the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
African International Law
PALU works as Lead Consultant on the development of the Draft Action and Implementation Plan for the Human and Peoples’ Rights Decade in Africa (10-YAP); as a result, PALU has engaged Commissioners of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) among others to receive their evolving views.
PALU takes part in meetings and workshops like the 2020 Regional Workshop on African National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The Victoria Falls workshop provided an opportunity for participants to discuss how Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063 are instrumental in the sustainable development of the African Continent. Commissioners and Representatives from Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, and Zimbabwe among others participated. Panelists included the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and PALU to name a few.
PALU’s participation in meetings and workshops are of key importance especially due to its engagement of NHRIs. Prior to PALU’s 10-YAP advocacy work in Victoria Falls, PALU participated in the Non-Governmental Organisation Forum and the 65th Ordinary Session of the African Commission in Banjul. PALU has worked to increase its Constituency in support of an international crimes jurisdiction for the African Court on Human and People’s Rights beyond the traditional support received from activists for international criminal justice and transitional justice.
Economic Governance in Africa
PALU co-founded (and is a member of) the Stop the Bleeding (STB) Consortium which brings together six leading Pan-African organisations and networks (e.g. PALU, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network, Africa Forum and Network on Debt and Development, Trust Africa, International Trade Union Confederation Africa, and Tax Justice Network Africa).
The STB Consortium focuses on creating coherent, consistent advocacy messaging as well as engagement strategies around curbing Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) from Africa especially given the level of IFF leakages through natural resources and extractive industries. The STB Consortium has prioritised tackling some major constraints (e.g. lack of transparency, harmful tax incentives, poor or lack of implementation of existing policies, lack of or ineffective citizens coordination and engagement) underpinning the natural resources and extractive industries sector. The collective voice of these organisations gives the STB Consortium significant and strategic leverage to influence international, regional and national policy processes.
Also, with the support of the Financial Transparency Coalition, PALU created the Task Force on Combatting IFFs from Africa, a small group of carefully selected lawyers and other activists who are knowledgeable, skilled and experienced in combatting IFFs, and who advise and assist PALU in the programming work in this important area.
Such complements our work with the AU-led Consortium on Combatting IFFs from Africa; our involvement in the STB Consortium; and our participation in the Multi-Sectoral Working Group on Combatting Corruption in Africa. Serious action to tackle IFFs will support with access to millions of United States Dollars for development at national, regional and continental levels in Africa and strengthen the economic sovereignty of African states and intergovernmental organisations. Economic governance is an area of extreme interest to PALU, the legal profession and African citizenry. To this regard, we engage activists in the economic justice sphere (those combatting IFFs and corruption) to persuade them that this new jurisdiction will be very beneficial. While this is a work in progress, the results so far are promising.
Development of the Legal Profession
PALU is growing in our efforts to mobilise participation of individual lawyers, national lawyers’ associations (NLAs) and regional lawyers’ association (RLAs) around our new Membership Engagement System (MES).
We are focused on strengthened capacity NLAs and RLAs in Africa to enhance their promotional and protection work; as well as sustained collaborations with NLAs and RLAs in Africa to widen platforms, voices, respect and protection of their members. Also, PALU is in discussions about a small-scale project for African lawyers to unify on a moral value position about their role in combating corruption and IFFs from Africa. Lawyers’ Associations are integral to anchoring common ethical standards in Africa, and by further empowering them in Africa around reducing corruption, the proposed small-scale project will support aspiring African lawyers to develop and sustain internal capacity to undertake their professional roles with transparency, accountability and integrity. Already, PALU has further popularised our Code of Ethics on Anti-Corruption and Professional Compliance Standards for Lawyers Working in Africa; the said project will be the next phase.
Furthermore, among PALU’s many committees which are linked to PALU’s core values (and comprise an underlying set of core beliefs/guides organisational behaviour), we have the Women’s Lawyers Forum. This Forum seeks to address recurrent issues that prevent women from advancing within the legal profession. In the 2019 year, PALU shared a survey from the Law Society of England & Wales around equal pay and maternal rights. Initially available only in the English language, PALU made it a point to also translate this survey into the French language for our Francophone Members. The Women’s Lawyers Forum welcomes men’s participation especially since equal pay and maternal rights affects all of us.