Our "What's Going" Democracy Forum

Democratic governance is supposed to be the bedrock of the African Union’s system of values and standards. It is supposed to be a system of governments where institutions function according to democratic processes and norms, both internally and in their interaction with other institutions.

The continent is undergoing constant change. A few countries in the region are moving towards multi-party elections that can be described as fairly free, fair and peaceful. However, democracy faces huge challenges, and in some areas, problems are resurfacing after a period of improved conditions. Problems that concern the entire region include corruption, weak political institutions, the underrepresentation of women in political life and limited media freedom.

AU Watch’s work on democratic governance and elections is anchored in the standards that AU and its Members have agreed, including political pluralism, institutional accountability and responsiveness, an active civil society, human rights, the rule of law, and democratic elections.

History of Our Democracy Forum

AU Watch ‘Democracy Forum’ started from its What’s App Group Forum where we have been discussing a range of issues ranging from human rights, democracy, Pan-Africanism, corruption and social justice. We decided that we should increase our coverage across a range of people, organisations and interests. It was therefore transformed to a platform for people from all sections of society and cultural backgrounds to get together to discuss socio-political issues that affect us all. Our core message is simple: a peaceful and democratic Africa through dialogue.

Goal of the Forum

‘What’s Going On’ is a platform for dialogue and innovation in democratic governance, which promotes the African Union’s Council principles and values of free societies and democracy as envisioned by the Charter of Democracy, Elections and Governance. A unique event of its kind, it addresses key challenges facing democracy in Africa, taking as a starting point what the AU is doing to promote and protect democracy, and fostering debate between different actors over Africa in order to find concrete solutions to the democratic deficit in the continent.

• A democratic exercise in itself, the Forum aims at giving African citizens their rightful place in political decision-making. We aim to contribute to the evolution of democracy towards more participatory and inclusive structures and institutions, and to the realisation of the AU’s flagship Agenda 2063  that envisions a continent in which there is a universal culture of good governance, democratic values, gender equality, and respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.

• We promote ideals of democracy, pluralism and tolerance through public debate. Through ongoing public debate, we hope to establish a more democratic, accountable and inclusive platform for policy development and a more respectful, open and tolerant societies in which diverse minority, cultural, religious and ethnic groups can flourish.

• To promote the objectives of Agenda 2063 program. Agenda 2063 is supposed to work with Member States to develop and implement policies that aim to building strong well governed institutions and enact laws that will ensure Africa’s citizens are fully engaged and involved in policy making and development initiates and that these citizens are provided the safe and secure environments in which to live.

What We Do

Democracy embodies responsive and responsible governance, rule of law, human rights, civic participation and peaceful transfers of power through electoral processes. Each of these underpins a peaceful and stable society. AU Watch teaches democratic principles and democratization processes and techniques that are critical to both peacebuilding and effective governance. Our Democracy Forum seeks to strengthen governance by supporting, through robust debates and conversations, inclusive, accountable institutions and a robust civil society. These in turn uphold human rights, justice and the rule of law, and promote public participation in social and political processes. We:

• Host public seminars, debates and discussion groups
The Forum hosts about six annual public seminars and discussion groups on topics related to open societies, ‘African’ democratic values and human rights. These seminars and discussion groups are held alongside key AU meetings.

• We support intellectual conversations on democracy
We invite academics and other experts, including AU Watch scholars, Governors and experts, to debate with each other and an invited audience. While our panellists are authorities in their fields, our audiences are diverse, from students and diplomats to journalists and interested members of the public. All views are welcome and our main goal is to generate inclusive, free-thinking discussion.

• Incubator For Participatory Democracy
We are democracy innovators. We connect local governments in Africa and beyond with democracy innovators all over the continent to replicate and scale up democratic innovations. The incubator supports initiatives – digital and offline – that contribute to the redistribution of political power towards citizens, and that support the broadest possible citizen participation in towns and cities’. The incubator builds an open infrastructure to boost democracy for inclusive and innovative cities.

• Side Events
The Forum welcomes the organisation of side events at the meetings of the AU, by universities and civil society organisations. The organising institutions are free to decide independently about the format of the event, the speakers and the specific topic(s). If you are interested in taking up some of these places, please book in time. The side events can take place any time during any of the sessions of the
AU. You organise the event and we pay for the costs. Possible formats include seminars or a seminar series, lectures in schools, surveys, social media campaigns, hackathons, local implementation of innovation initiatives presented in previous Forums, radio/TV debates, or lightening talks with public at large (at NGOs, schools, community centres, etc.).

• Youth Forum
Recognising the importance of educating Africa’s youth for human rights and democracy from the early ages, AU Watch offers to Africa’s youth a dedicated space, “AU Watch Youth Forum”, to allow them to have a say in the way Africa is governed. We encourage youths to freely express themselves and learn how to participate in representative democracy.

AU Watch Youth Forum works closely with AU Watch APAS program – another youth program that seeks to empower Africa’s youth.


Are you any of the below? Why not give us a call and let’s see how we can get you involved in our democracy debates. 

• AU, including its Recs
• AU Member States
• Sub regional and international organisations
• National institutions with Member States
• Local and traditional structures
• African civil society
• Private Sector
• Academia
• Youth
• Schools of law and political studies
• African citizens

Interested? Please get in touch