Training legal drafting to boost African Union treaty uptake

Nov 30, 2016

Participants learned for example about the principles of legislative training, the ethical and political questions related to drafting, and effective writing to achieve legislative quality.

To ensure implementation of the various African Union (AU) Treaties, legislative drafters in governments and other national policy and law-making organs must be empowered to produce clear, effective and implementable legislation and directives. To meet this need, the AU has increased the pool of legislative drafters in the Office of Legal Counsel of the African Union Commission (AUC) and among the Member States.

30 legal advisers and legislative drafters, with close to 15 of them women, met in Arusha, Tanzania to learn about new and cutting-edge models of legislative drafting in a workshop held 19–23 September 2016. The workshop built participants’ skills to understand the principles of drafting legislation and apply them to the AU processes.

The legal and legislative drafting workshop brought together participants from the Office of the Legal Counsel of the AUC and legislative drafters from governments, Law Reform Organisations and national parliaments from east and southern Member States of the African Union. The five-day training was organised and convened by UNDP Africa, in collaboration with the AUC Office of the Legal Counsel in support of AUC and the East and Southern Africa Regional Economic Communities.

“This training took me out of my comfort zone. The skills I have obtained here will become the tool I use to address some of the gaps in Treaty implementation that we have in Mauritius,” the State Counsel for Solicitor General, Arun Rohamally, told participants during the training.

Participants learned about the principles of legislative training, distinctions between drafting and policy making, the ethical and political questions related to drafting, and effective writing to achieve legislative quality. The training also covered tenets of proper drafting, and treaty processes from initiation to negotiation and to drafting, following adoption, entry into force and ratification, and in the end, domestication of a treaty.

Legal drafters needed for enabling AU Treaties implementation

Additional challenges facing the profession of legal and legislative drafting include:

  • A negative image and diminished status, causing attrition of the drafters.
  • Lack of awareness of the speciality among many young people embarking on legal careers.
  • Poor remuneration and under-resourced offices, all serious challenges as legislative drafters are the ones translating the AU legal instruments into national laws.

Tackling the issues legal and legislative drafters have is necessary to reach the point where laws can consistently be drafted with precision and clarity, thus helping to ensure the implementation of AU Treaties.

The AU has adopted 50 treaties, 29 of which have entered into force. Before the treaties can be signed, ratified and implemented in the Member States, the legal aspects need to be translated into national standards which requires legislative drafting. UNDP also trained the participants on how to apply rules of drafting in the implementation process of AU Treaties.

The legal and legislative workshop is one of three trainings arranged for legal drafters from AU Member States. The next workshop is organised for Francophone West and Central Africa focusing on drafting within the Civil Law context. The training is held in Dakar, Senegal from 28 November to 2 December 2016.

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