State of the African Union (SOTU)

The State of the union (SOTU) is a coalition that was formed in 2009 by African civil society organisations working in ten countries to advocate for the implementation of progressive African Union (AU) standards and commitments at the national level with the aim of ensuring that African citizens benefit from these standards and commitments their governments make at the Pan African level


The SOTU coalition is operational in ten countries namely Kenya, Cameroon, Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique, Tunisia and Malawi. The project has the following three main objectives:

  • To inform and empower African citizens to claim their rights and freedoms as enshrined in key African Union standards and decisions;

  • To engage the African Union and African states in order for them to ratify, popularise and implement key African Union standards and decisions;

  • To build and strengthen inclusive continental and national platforms that can act to popularise and demand ratification and implementation of key African Union standards and decisions.


The coalition has the following members and partners: The Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG)—Ghana; Fahamu—Kenya; La Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO)—Sénégal, Centro de Aprendizagem e Capacitação da Sociedade Civil (CESC)—Mozambique; Le Collectif des Ligues et Associations de Défense des Droits de l’Homme (CLADHO)—Rwanda; Citizen’s Governance Initiatives (CGI)—Cameroon, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)—Nigeria, Malawi Economic Justice Network—Malawi; Oxfam—Africa; Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)—South Africa and the Arab Institute of Human Rights—Tunisia. The SOTU secretariat is based in Nairobi, Kenya.


The constitution (2010) of Kenya, Article 2 (6) provides that any treaty or convention that the country ratifies forms part of Kenya’s laws. Out of a total 43 African Union instruments, Kenya has ratified 22 and has ratified or accessed to 13 out of 16 African Union instruments that SOTU is focusing on. The 13 instruments are the following: the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources; African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community; Abuja Call for Accelerated Action Towards Universal Access to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Services by 2010; Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to the Pan-African Parliament; Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa; African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption; Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan; Maputo Plan of Action for Implementing the Continental Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Policy Framework 2007-2010; African Health Strategy 2007-2015; Sharm el-Sheikh Commitments for Accelerating the Achievement of Water and Sanitation Goals in Africa and the African Mining Vision. Kenya is also signatory to the remaining three instruments namely the Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; the African Youth Charter and the Revised African Convention on the conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Since 2009, Fahamu has been able to develop two reports on Kenya’s compliance with African Union instruments. The two reports (read the 2010 and 2013 reports here: ) were shared to various stakeholders including the Government of Kenya so that gaps in ratification and implementation can be addressed by all relevant players including citizens who have the right to claim for their implementation. Fahamu has also been able to form a coalition of organisations and networks working on key African Union instruments so that they can join forces demanding for their implementation. They include Minda Trust, National Land Accord Movement, Pamoja Trust, African Biodiversity Network, Bunge La Wananchi, Mwea Foundation, Youth Congress, Coalition for Constitution Implementation, Kenya Land Alliance, Kajiado Voices, Narok Youth Alliance and Taita Resource Centre among others.

Finally, Fahamu is working with the Kenyan Members of the Pan-African Parliament to urge the Kenyan Government to put in place and strengthen a national framework that would monitor the ratification and implementation processes of all African Union instruments that Kenya is party to.