Forty Forth Lecture - Jean Ping

Forty Fourth Lecture - April 15,  2011

"Regional Perspectives on Democracy: Celebrating Ten Years of the Inter-American Democratic Charter"

Speaker: Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission

I am honoured to take part in this year's Lecture of the Americas on Regional Perspectives on Democracy: Celebrating Ten Years of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, organised by our sister Organisation, the Organisation of American States (OAS). I was glad to answer the call by the Secretary-General whose organisation, the OAS, stands as a beacon of hope and has always been a fountain of solidarity.
This event is of particular importance, as it comes after the 16th African Union (AU) Summit on the theme "Towards Greater Unity and Integration through Shared Values." In dedicating the theme of the 16th Ordinary Assembly of Heads of State and Government to Shared Values in Africa, including identifying obstacles and measures to be adopted to facilitate continental integration based on such values, African leaders decided that deliberations on how Democracy and Governance can accelerate

continental integration and provide a solid foundation for building a more prosperous Africa are needed. The consensus that emerged from the Summit is that Africa's destiny will be shaped by how much Africa constructs a sense of common identity based, not on the narrow lenses of state, race or religion, but constructed on Africa's belief in Democracy and Governance as vvell as unity, as the most viable policy option to mediate, reconcile and accommodate our individual and collective interests.

Against this backdrop, and in a context where the universality of Democracy and Governance as shared values is unquestionable, we must recognise the value of experience sharing in democracy promotion. Our presence here today signifies more than our collective commitment to the principles of Democracy and Governance. It indeed highlights our collective resolve to be our neighbours' keeper. Success would not be measured by individual progress, but by a matter of collective gain. In this process of dialogue and experience sharing, i am confident, that we are responding directly to the needs of "democratic transitionalism" accelerated by information technology and built upon our common heritage and the principles of solidarity.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Along Africa's democratization journey, events in North Africa, despite providing hope and mixed results, reminds us that no matter the difference in the colour of our eyes, skin, religion, wealth and geography, we all do yearn for liberty and equality, something more consequential and bigger than "big and strong men". Most importantly, these events have proved that democracy is good politics. What are the possibilities of the contagion effect of the situation in North Africa and what policies can the AU develop to respond to the situations? Do these events mark the end of the history of the political evolution in Africa? While not entirely neglecting these very important questions, I would like to address my mind to the broader Democracy and Governance challenges facing Africa and the role of the AU in addressing them.

Full speech