review process

Adesina/AfDB: Mary Robinson will lead governance review

By Estelle Maussion, Aurélie M’Bida

Posted on June 29, 2020 09:17

Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, is to be part of the group reviewing the report of the AfDB Ethics Committee, which cleared Akinwumi Adesina in early May.

It took several days to draw the outlines of the “independent review” that was supposed to sift through the internal report that had rejected the charges brought against the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, by a group of whistleblowers.

A “neutral, honest, high-calibre” personality

Announced on June 5, this review of the ethics committee’s report issued in early May – and not an “independent investigation” – was to be entrusted to a single person. This person had to be “neutral, honest, of high calibre, with unquestionable experience and a proven international reputation,” according to the press release published at the time.

READ MORE AfDB: The “Real” Geopolitics of the Adesina Affair

A slight adjustment of the plan seems to have taken place, however.

In the end, at least three people will be responsible for studying the report of the AfDB ethics committee.

Among them, Irish politician Mary Robinson, who was approached by the Board of Governors’ office to participate. “The African Development Bank is in the process of setting up a group of three people to review the ethics committee’s report, and Mary Robinson has indicated that she would be willing to sit on this group,” said a close associate of the former Irish president interviewed by JA.

Human rights specialist

Mary Robinson became the first woman to reach the presidency in Ireland in 1990, for a period of seven years, and then became United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights until 2002. Prior to becoming President of Ireland, Mary Robinson was a lawyer specializing in human rights.

READ MORE AfDB: “Aren’t they ashamed?” – Adesina’s defence

As UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, she made several trips to Goma, North Kivu, in 2013 to urge the Congolese rebels of the Movement of 23 March (M23) to “stop the violence” and to urge the DRC to negotiate with the rebels without using force.

Since 2007, she has been a member of “The Elders”, an NGO launched by Nelson Mandela that brings together distinguished public figures working for conflict resolution and good governance. She has been its president since November 2018.

READ MORE AfDB: What’s in the confidential report exonerating Adesina

At the AfDB, the panel reviewing the ethics committee’s report will also help to calm tensions between the main influential players around the institution – notably the United States, which at the end of May openly questioned the work of the AfDB ethics committee through Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, and called for a new investigation.

For nearly six months now, the pan-African financial institution has been the scene of a serious internal crisis.

The conclusions of the review of the audit committee’s report are expected to be decisive as AfDB member countries are expected to decide in August whether or not to reappoint Akinwumi Adesina as president of the institution.


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