Solidarity is an important principle that spans many areas of international law and policy such as human rights, trade, peace and security, criminal justice and environmental protection. In a landmark resolution, the UN Human Rights Council acknowledged that ‘[t]he same rights that people have offline must also be protected online’. This establishes a ‘normative equivalency’ between online and offline rights. Thus, for instance, the right to freedom of expression, safeguarded by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), is equally valid for online expression. This normative equivalency applies to the enjoyment of other human rights, including solidarity rights.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the largest in the world by membership, aims to increase trade flows of African products and services within the continent by removing tariff and non-tariff barriers. The Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade included within the scope of the Agreement establishing the AfCFTA is a first of its kind for a regional trade agreement of this scale. The inclusion of the Protocol is a concrete realization of the commitment of the Assembly of African Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) to “broaden inclusiveness” in the operation of the AfCFTA, demonstrating a novel approach to addressing gender issues within trade agreements. This article will first discuss the relevance of including gender considerations in trade agreements in supporting women’s participation in their various trade roles and in maximising the potential benefits of trade agreements as a whole; second, it will propose considerations for determining the scope and focus of the AfCFTA Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade.
Akin to the proverbial new wine in old skins, the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade is an ingenious idea whose prospects stand to run afoul of entrenched and systemic forms of discrimination and exclusion. If successfully enacted, the instrument must find its way around economic nationalism (protectionism), vulnerabilities of infant markets in the South, dominance of neoliberal economic thinking, and State dysfunction. Short of far-reaching and deliberate institutional, policy, and legislative reforms at the individual country- and Regional Economic Community (REC) levels, the Protocol runs the risk of being another of those beautiful mechanisms printed on glossy paper, but with no tangible effects to the everyday lives of the billion Africans in whose name it was enacted.
One of the benefits of commenting or critiquing a drafting process and a draft protocol is that it gives you the freedom to question assumptions and offers a timely analysis that helps improve the zero draft. However, here I am, discussing and commenting on a draft protocol that I am yet to read because the draft is not available for public distribution. With that caveat, my thoughts here are general. The societal role of women cannot change without changing the position of men, and by the same token, concerns of women should not be confined to a separate protocol but rather ought to be at the heart of the AfCFTA. But here we are, and the question asked of us is to analyze what inclusive AfCFTA Protocol on Women and Youth means.
There have been many important developments on the continent since the official start of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in January 2021. Keen to stimulate discussion of the ambitious development objectives which have animated the AfCFTA project and their potential to be realized by the effort as currently conceived, the Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP) at Harvard Law School, Afronomicslaw.org, and the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa (FLIA) at the London School of Economics and Political Science came together in early 2023 to co-sponsor a discussion series entitled “Assessing Developments in the Negotiation and Implementation of the AfCFTA”. The first session of the series was convened online by the IGLP on April 17, 2023, and centered on the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade (the Protocol) which is currently being negotiated.
There has been a wave of incessant coups in Africa, starting in Mali in 2020. Since then, it has unprecedentedly spread to 6 countries in 3 years. Other countries include Guinea (2021), Chad (2021), Sudan (2021), Burkina Faso (2022), Niger (2023), and most recently, Gabon in August 2023 have experienced coups. The coup leaders deposed elected leaders, forestalled elections, or even overthrew leaders who held on to powers for over 50 years. It has also caused the rise of a faction among African leaders. Countries with military regimes declare support for one another and daring regional bodies like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to take any disciplinary action. This post examines the effect of the rising political instability in African countries on the African Union’s (AU) effort to implement the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The sponsoring organizations of the International Conference on the Future of African Trade and the AfCFTA invite submissions and participant nominations for a collaborative exchange and discussion at a two-day hybrid conference to take place on November 9 and 10, 2023. The conference working language will be English and will include paper presentations on topics detailed below. It will also include working group discussions with a broad range of stakeholders, including, for example, business leaders, members of the judiciary, and representatives of non-governmental organizations, law reform agencies, policy makers, and other interested persons on topics related to African trade law.
According to Article 42.2 of the Annex 2 on Rules of Origin, Manual shall, upon his adoption by the Assembly, form an integral part of Annex 2. It will therefore have to be used in conjunction with AfCFTA legal instruments.
Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) play a fundamental role in job creation and economic development in many countries. MSMEs account for about 90% of businesses and generate more than 50% of employment worldwide, with formal Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) contributing to about 40% of national income (gross domestic product (GDP)) in emerging economies. This article seeks to proffer action plans to be implemented at the national, regional and continental levels to assist MSMEs in realizing sustainable development and the underlying sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The News and Events category publishes the latest News and Events relating to International Economic Law relating to Africa and the Global South. Every week, Afronomicslaw.org receive the News and Events in their e-mail accounts. The News and Events published every week include conferences, major developments in the field of International Economic Law in Africa at the national, sub-regional and regional levels as well as relevant case law. News and Events with a Global South focus are also often included.