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The Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) is an advisory body of the African Union designed to give civil society organizations (CSOs) a voice within the AU institutions and decision-making processes. ECOSOCC is made up of civil society organizations from a wide range of sectors including labour, business and professional groups, service providers and policy think tanks, both from within Africa and the African diaspora.

The Interim President of ECOSOCC was Kenyan Nobel Prize winner Prof. Wangari Maathai. In 2008, she was replaced as President by Cameroonian lawyer Akere Muna of the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU).

Legal framework

ECOSOCC is provided for in the African Union Constitutive Act, but does not have its own protocol, relying rather on Statutes approved by the AU Assembly. The ECOSOCC Statutes provide for four main bodies:

The 10 Sectoral Cluster Committees are:

Membership criteria

The criteria established by the ECOSOCC Statutes for membership include that candidates should:

The requirements on funding from membership contributions mean that many African NGOs are not eligible for membership of ECOSOCC.

Establishment

Interim ECOSOCC structures were established in 2005. Elections to replace these structures were finally held in 23 African states and at continental level in late 2007. Although elections had not been completed in the remaining countries, the official launch of the new ECOSOCC General Assembly took place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 9 September 2008.

The Citizens and Diaspora Office (CIDO) in the AU Commission acts as secretariat for ECOSOCC.

Membership of interim structures

The council also has four vice presidents. The interim presidents were:

The Council also maintains a Standing Committee, whose interim members are listed below:

Central Africa

East Africa

North Africa

Southern Africa

West Africa