How We Work - Our Strategic Approach

“Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavoured, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”

Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Learn about our approach, what we do that makes us different to other African NGOs, our objectives underpinning our mission and what we do in Africa to change lives for good around the continent.
Learn about our local initiatives and ways of working that we use around Africa to ourselves to achieve the Africa of 2063

Who We Are

  • We are an African-based think-and-do tank on the AU and AU Member States, as they relate to the AU. Headquartered in Banjul, The Gambia, the seat of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, AU Watch monitors the AU by the standard of its Constitutive Act and the standards of the legal instruments of its various institutions. It challenges and holds to account the AU and States Parties to the Constitutive Act to live up to the standards and ideals they have set for themselves.
  • We promote constructive engagement with the leadership of the AU, its Member States and various institutions – seeking to promote the adoption of sound policies and actions to further human rights, good governance and sustainable development.
  • Through education, advocacy, campaigns, litigation, power of media and communications, our programs contribute to reducing fragility, promote and protect human rights, foster political stability and effective governance, and enabling sustainable and inclusive development and growth.
  • We promote constructive engagement with the leadership of the AU, its Member States and various institutions – seeking to promote the adoption of sound policies and actions to further human rights, good governance and sustainable development. Through power of media and communication our programs contribute to reducing fragility, promote and protect human rights, foster political stability and effective governance, and enabling sustainable and inclusive development and growth.

Our Vision

AU Watch’s vision is an integrated, politically united, peaceful and secure Africa based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance. We envision a prosperous, strong, resilient Africa based on social justice, good governance and rule of law, respect for human rights, inclusive growth and sustainable development, and whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth.

We want an Africa enriched by the effective and informed public discourse about what its state managers are doing to transform lives. Change can only happen when everyone who is affected has a seat at the table and has an opportunity to speak and influence that change.

When It Comes To Media & Communication, We Have a

Sub Sectors

Our Programming Approach

AU Watch has had some shifts in its programming approach over the last couple of years of its establishment. The AU and its Members are evolving, and we saw it fit for the organization to transform itself to meet the growing demands for its services.We are committed to advancing a wider understanding of the AU, its RECs, institutions and programs and their critical security, political, economic and human rights issues of the twenty-first century and their potential resolution. Working with partner organisations and individuals, our programs also includes combating corruption and social injustice and building a strong and dynamic civil society that questions what African states managers are doing. AU Watch works in Africa and on African issues around the world.

So, we are a think-and-do-tank with a special focus on the work of the AU and its Members. Assisting to change the way all of us think about the AU and do things for and on behalf of the AU underpins our work at AU Watch. We are convinced that advocacy, media and communication can help change people’s lives. We also believe that the AU could be a force for good in the region and the world, but its major constituent, which are the African people need to buy into the AU project. Millions of our compatriots simply don’t understand what the AU is and what it stands for. That concept of CHANGE is reflected in our work on the AU. Assisting to change what the AU does and how it works is at the heart of our work at AU Watch.

Empowerment is Key

The organisation is premised on the idea that as Africans we need an accessible platform where all of us can discuss collective challenges with the AU and its Members. But to do that we need to be properly and practically empowered.  The AU and its Members tell us there are spaces for “a people centred AU”.

The Constitutive Act of the AU refers to the creation of space for the inclusion and participation of civil society in its processes. Various advocacy opportunities for civil society are also provided for in the structures of the AU. ECOSOC is the primary vehicle for formal participation by civil society in AU processes and the Citizens and Diaspora Organizations Directorate (CIDO) is the unit of the AU Commission that is charged with the responsibility for mainstreaming the participation of non-state actors in civil society affairs of the Union. CIDO has been designed to be that catalyst for realizing this objective.

Claiming Ownership of An Opaque AU System

Has that vision been realized? No! The door is firmly shut to many African CSOs. ECOSOC and CIDO platforms seem more for the Chinese and Europeans! African CSOs are so incensed with the status quo that during the 58th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, a formal complaint was lodged at the African Commission. Moreover, as has so often been commented on, these institutions have weak legitimacy and lack visibility and policy influence. Hundreds of millions of its citizens don’t even know these institutions exist, let alone know what they do or are able to participate in their activities. We at AU Watch have, therefore, taken it upon ourselves to inspire and empower all of us to claim ownership to what rightly belongs to us. If it is true that the AU belongs to all of us, then we have the right to own it and direct it.

Some of the things we do to empower ourselves

1. We produce documentaries, radio and television programs on the AU and its Members. 

2. We use social media and mobile phone platforms to reach our constituents and to influence the AU and its Members.

3. Host events to build knowledge, and bring about shifts in attitudes, norms and behavior, in the relevant areas of AU Watch interventions. Our media platforms and events inspire and empower people to question what their leaders are doing and why they are doing whatever they say they are doing. 

4. The African youth is our priority. We go to carry our programs to schools. We aim to get every child, woman and man understand their rights; understand what the AU and AUMS is doing and why.

5. We offer the AU and AUMS a space to engage in public and private dialogue with some of Africa’s most vulnerable communities – people who are often excluded from decision making. For example, we are campaigning for the elected Chairperson of the AU, on being elected to that high office, to give an Africa-wide 45 minutes televised ‘State of the Union Address to Africa’, to tell us about his or her programs and policy for Africa for the next one year. We hope that the ‘State of the Union Address’ to Africa will become an institutional event, wherein the Chairperson will be able to explain to us his / her plan for the following year, and what had been achieved the previous year, including challenges.

6. We offer women and especially some of Africa’s most excluded communities a platform to question the AU and its Member States and hold those in power to account. Our publications, television, radio and digital programs engage AU officials and AU Member States in open debates and discussions and encourage communication across political, ethnic, religious and other social divides.

7. AU Watch collaborates with African international organizations, African CSOs and other local and international partners seeking to become one more voice and action-oriented organization in defense of human dignity and freedoms. While recognizing the many challenges faced by the AU and its Members, we advocate finding ways to build on its strengths and use its limited resources effectively.

8. Research underpins most of what we do. We carry out independent and rigorous analysis of critical African, regional and country-specific challenges and opportunities related to the AU, its institutions and programs.

9. As a practical organization, we respond to real challenges in Africa by assisting the most vulnerable people and communities by giving practical development assistance and supporting training in many areas of AU related programs like, education, human rights, climate change and natural resource, agriculture and development. As first responders we also assist in some of Africa’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people in difficult circumstances, especially those devastated by conflict and disaster.
To learn more about what we do,click here.

We address issues from all angles. We work with local, regional and international partners to make change happen for everyone everywhere in Africa.

A Systems Approach

Using a systems approach, AU Watch accomplishes its very wide-ranging objectives and programs through its media and communication work, research, training, partnerships, critical thinking and writing and through its practical programs.

We also provide advice and consultancy services to companies, governments and international organizations on how their policies and operations can better support the African people. So, we are proactive and adaptable. Inbuilt in how AU Watch addresses issues is our ability and mind set to adapt and respond to changes. It is a key component of AU Watch’s strategic approach.

Systems thinking offer a way to better identify root causes for problems to be addressed, and to offer possible solutions to effect change. Systems approach continually calls for study, research, experimentation, learning, and iteration. Improvement to the system is made through multi-faceted approaches that support and reinforce one another, are sustained over time, and reflect a comprehensive understanding of the major forces driving and constraining change. At AU Watch we support comprehensive and holistic analysis of challenges, as a way to better identify root causes for problems we want to address, and to find intervention points that offer great opportunity to advance change.

How do we decide what and how we respond to issues?

We are adaptable. Our adaptability has meant that we have to re-create new organizational structures to enable us to anticipate and take action faster for challenges in a region that is exceedingly complex. By anchoring our adaptation on experience, observations and research gathered, through a wide-ranging pragmatic approach, we are able to maximise the impact of our interventions.

Most of our work is done through our largely autonomous Directorates and Chapters and their local Board Members, called the Corporate Leadership Team. They are the engines of AU Watch. They implement the policies of our Governing Council and the Strategic Leadership Group. In collaboration and consultation with the Strategic Leadership Group, the directorates and the chapters decide which situations to cover based on a number of factors. These include: a determination of what we believe the African peoples should be aware of and participate in; the approach of the AU and its Members to a situation; the seriousness of a situation; whether we can add value to the local and regional understanding and response; whether we have or can raise the necessary resources to ensure high-quality response and effective follow-through.

What is your Story

Strong advocacy means effective communication. Creative, informative and entertaining media outputs are at the core of our approach. At AU Watch we believe that media and communication can inform, connect and empower. They can help people, institutions and even governments bring about critical and lasting changes. AU Watch advocacy and outreach activities are two major strands of our communication approach. We try to bring the issues you are concerned about and news you want the AU and AUMS to respond to, to the farms, markets, schools, living rooms and cafes of Africa. Through our television and radio debate shows, dramas, public service announcements, mobile phone services and face-to-face communication, we provide individuals and communities a platform to engage their state managers and question them on issues which they are concerned about. Our television, radio and digital programs directly engage people and the AU in discussions, encourage communication across political, ethnic, religious and other social divides.

If it’s important to you, it’s important to us! Let us tell your story together

We provide spokespeople for television, radio and press concerning the range of issues covered by the AU. Whether it’s social and economic policy analysis, human rights, conflict and peace, development, security, education governance and more we have the experts who can articulate the issues clearly. AU Watch understands that media and communication can have a deep and positive result on the lives of people – especially on the poor and vulnerable. Using its network of scholars, volunteers and other professionals, AU Watch uses media and communication to help inform political, economic and social policies at the AU to improve people’s lives and to bring about lasting change.

Our media work also includes producing:
Short films
Online commentaries
Online articles on topical issues
Collaborative work / publications with other institutions