11. African Community Citizenship and Regional Integration. How to Resolve the Question of Governance in the African Union

E-mail of the panel organiser: delmastsafack@yahoo.fr

The concept of citizenship was born with the ancient city. Citizenship, Politeia in Greece Civitas in Rome, is a quality that gives the right to participate in managing the city’s affairs, conceived as a social space selected and governed by the fundamental principle of equality. Fully integrated into the political community, citizens were equal in front of the law and enjoyed an equal power to intervene in collective decisions. However, all citizens of the city do not have access to this quality. Rome has constituted another step of citizenship by establishing the principle that foreigners could access to a society defined in legal term. The Romans founded here by the idea that, as a rule, citizenship was open and had a universal vocation. Appeared in 1984, at the European Council at Fontainebleau, the idea of ​​community citizenship had progressed with Adonino report and at the European Council in Dublin in December 1990 after which the Heads of State and Government of the EEC were explicitly intended to give political and social rights to the community citizen.

This panel wants to answer the following main question: How does the institution of an African citizenship strengthen regional integration in Africa? The literature on the African Union citizenship is rare and almost nonexistent. Indeed, such a study on Africa has so far never been given special attention by researchers. This panel would therefore address these shortcomings by introducing the African citizenship as a means of integration of the African people. It will present arguments on the importance of citizenship in the African integration process. The panel will present the conditions for acquiring the status of African Community citizen and will show that the African Union citizenship is a catalyst for political integration which can lead to an African federal State.


1. The prerequisites and conditions for the establishment of an African community citizenship

Author: Nguefack Tsafack Charly Delmas (International Relations Institute of Cameroon)


Citizenship is a great idea and a distinctive way of thinking and evaluating the political and social membership. It refers here to a political action related to the involvement of citizens particularly concerned with public affairs. The dream of a permanent agora underlies the idea of a permanent political mobilization, where reasonable citizens constantly deliberate on their grievances and aspirations, comparing laws and their applications. Modern forms of citizenship remain nowadays inseparable from the nation-State. However, the nation-State is in crisis. It is no longer a closed and sovereign entity, hence the resurgence of community citizenship within regional integration organizations. The dissociation of economic and political spaces firstly, decoupling notions of market and nation on the other hand, the increasing ethnic and cultural heterogeneity of national populations tend to promote entry into the era of post national citizenship. In a space searching for its integration as Africa, it is necessary to think about building a community citizenship. Appeared in 1984, at the European Council at Fontainebleau, the idea of community citizenship had progressed with Adonino report and at the European Council in Dublin in December 1990 after which the Heads of State and Government of the EEC had explicitly intended to give political and social rights to the community citizen. Studies on community citizenship focus overwhelmingly on European Union; the African Union is generally overlooked. This communication aims to define and lay the theoretical bases of the African community citizenship. It presents the conditions for acquiring the status of community citizen and shows that the principles of free movement and non-discrimination in the African regional space are prerequisites for the establishment of an African citizenship. The article concludes that the establishment of a community citizenship is necessary for the democratic governance of the African Union.

2. All Africans: A Case for An African Union Citizenship Grounded in a Non-state Political Theoretical Paradigm

Author: Odomaro Mubangizi (Capuchin Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Ethiopia)


The charter that created the African Union came into effect in 2002.  It is now 12 years in place but most Africans would not be sure whether they know the rationale and ultimate role of the AU in promoting good governance, peace, security and progress on the continent.  Annual summits take place in Addis Ababa, and several resolutions are taken, but it is though the respective heads of states just return to their colonially engineered states to resume business  as usual.  As a result, poverty, conflicts (both internal and regional), bad governance continue to plague the majority of the African countries with a few exceptions.  Of late emerging economies such as China and India deal with Africa as if it were a one country—this could be the time for Africans to begin envisioning a new continental political architecture, with an African citizenship.  I want to argue that the failure of the respective African states to eradicate poverty, end armed conflicts, and address governance issues is caused by lack of a common regional integration model that takes an African Union citizenship seriously, but at the same time respecting the role of civil society and faith-based organizations, that predate the state in Africa.   It is evident that AU and sub-regional integration groups such as EAC, SADC, ECOWAS, as well NEPAD, are designed and operationalized from a statist political philosophical framework.  And since the African states are largely contested as a colonial creation, the AU cannot successfully implement the institution of an African citizenship without acknowledging the role of and giving space to non-state actors in AU and other regional integration models and initiatives.  This paradigm shift will require rethinking the relationship between the state and non-state actors in Africa.

3. The participation of the African citizens to the democratic functioning of the African Union

Author: Yanick Jacquinos Janal Libom (International Relations Institute of Cameroon)


This article focuses on the issue of citizen’s participation in the construction of African regional integration. Since the independence of African States, regional integration is recorded in line with the priorities of the continent. The political and economic integration has been enrolled in a community agenda. But the notion of community citizenship seems to be forgotten. However the community citizenship appears as one of the best way of integrating the people of the continent. This study presents the African citizenship as an instrument of participatory democracy on the African scale. The communication aims to present community citizenship as the right way for the participation of the African people in the regional integration process in the continent. The paper shows that this participatory democracy must be supported by the right to vote and eligibility for African citizen to local elections in the host countries as well as the establishment of a right to petition and a citizen’s initiative within the African Union.

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