Sanctions for non-payment of AU fees explained

Deputy Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Kwesi Quartey, has lauded the recent decision taken by African leaders that introduced a tougher sanction regime on its member states for non-payment of dues.

According to Quartey, the sanction regime is in line with the ongoing implementation of the decision on financing of the Union that seeks to realise a predictable, reliable and sustainable financing mechanism for the Union’s agenda.

The AU assembly of heads of state and government, during its 11th extraordinary summit that was held from Nov. 17 to 18 at the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, strengthened its sanctions regime to ensure its 55 members meet their financial obligations to the Union in time.  The set of sanctions, among other things, include a total suspension of a member state from the AU assembly and other gatherings should it fail to meet its payment expectations.

“As we speak now in the month of November, member states have only paid 50 per cent of the assessed contributions for the year 2018,” an AU statement quoted Quartey as saying on Tuesday.

“We, therefore, find ourselves in a precarious position where our planning, implementation and execution of programs and activities is greatly hampered,” the deputy chairperson said.

Quartey indicated that the sanctions regime “will therefore go a long way in addressing the weaknesses in the compliance arrangements.” 

Revealing details of the sanction regime on Tuesday, the AU announced three categories of the sanctions that are “cautionary, intermediate and comprehensive.” 

Cautionary sanctions would be applied to member states that do not pay 50 per cent of their assessed contributions within six months. Such states would be deprived of their right to take the floor or make any contributions in the meetings of the AU.

Intermediate sanctions apply to members who are in arrears for one year, in which the member states shall be suspended from being a member of a Bureau of any organ of the Union, hosting any organ, institution or office of the Union and losing the right to have their nationals participate in electoral observation missions, human rights observation missions, and will not be invited to meetings organised by the Union.

States under the intermediate sanctions “will not have their nationals appointed as staff members, consultants, volunteers or interns at the AU,” according to the AU. Under the comprehensive sanctions, which kick in after a member state defaults its payments for two years, such states are liable to the cautionary and intermediary sanctions and their right to participate in the meetings of the Union will be suspended.  The AU, however, indicated that exceptions “will be granted to members who demonstrate conditions beyond their control to meet their financial obligations.” 

Quartey also on Tuesday highlighted some of the challenges the Union presently faces in its financing agenda such as the unpredictability and excessive volatility of its revenues, over-dependence on outside partners and the growing dependence on a few countries internally to finance a large bulk of the Union’s budget.