The AU Free Movement of Persons Protocol

Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment (AU Free Movement Protocol) adopted in 2018

The AU Free Movement Protocol contains the following eleven labour migration-mobility related provisions.

Article 5. Progressive Realisation
  1. The free movement of persons, right of residence and right of establishment shall be achieved progressively through the following phases:
    1. phase one, during which States Parties shall implement the right of entry and abolition of visa requirements;
    2. phase two, during which States Parties shall implement the right of residence;
    3. phase three, during which States Parties shall implement the right of establishment.
Article 14. Free Movement of Workers
  1. The Nationals of a Member State shall have the right to seek and accept employment without discrimination in any other Member State in accordance with the laws and policies of the host Member State.
  2.  A national of a Member State accepting and taking up employment in another Member State may be accompanied by a spouse and dependants.
Article 15. Permits and Passes
  1. A host States Party shall issue residence permits, work permits, or other appropriate permits or passes to nationals of other Member State seeking and taking up residence or work in the host Member State.
  2. Permits and passes shall be issued in accordance with the immigration procedures applicable to persons seeking or taking up residence or work in the host Member State.
  3. The procedures referred to in paragraph 2 shall include the right of a national of another Member State to appeal against a decision denying them a permit or pass.
Article 18. Mutual Recognition of Qualifications
  1. States Parties shall individually or through bilateral, multilateral or regional arrangements, mutually recognize academic, professional and technical qualifications of their nationals to promote the movement of persons among the Member States.
  2. States Parties shall establish a continental qualifications framework to encourage and promote the free movement of persons.
Article 19. Portability of Social Security Benefits
  1. States Parties shall, through bilateral, regional or continental arrangements, facilitate the portability of social security benefits to nationals of another Member State residing or established in that Member State.
Article 23. Remittances
  1. States Parties shall through, bilateral, regional, continental or international agreements facilitate the transfer of earnings and savings of nationals of other Member States working, residing or established in their territory.
Article 24. Procedure for the Movement of Specific Groups
  1. States Party may in addition to the measures provided for by international, regional and continental instruments, establish specific procedures for the movement of specific vulnerable groups including refugees, victims of human trafficking and smuggled migrants, asylum seekers and pastoralists.
  2. Procedures established by a Member State under this article shall be consistent with the obligations of that Member State under the international, regional and continental instruments relating to the protection of each group of persons referred to in paragraph 1.
Article 25. Cooperation between Member States
  1. States Parties shall in accordance with the African Union Convention on Cross-Border Cooperation coordinate their border management systems in order to facilitate the free and orderly movement of persons.
  2. States Parties shall record, document, and upon request, make available all forms of aggregated migration data at the ports or points of entry or exit from their territory.
  3. States Parties shall through bilateral or regional arrangements-cooperate with each other by exchanging information related to the free movement of persons and the implementation of this Protocol.
Article 26. Coordination and Harmonisation
  1. In accordance with article 881 of the Abuja Treaty and guided, as appropriate, by the implementation Roadmap annexed to this Protocol, States Parties shall harmonise and coordinate the laws, policies, systems and activities of the regional economic communities of which they are members which relate to free movement of persons with the laws, policies, systems and activities of the Union.
  2. States Parties shall harmonise their national policies, laws and systems with this Protocol and guided, as appropriate, by the Implementation Roadmap annexed to this Protocol.

1Article 88 of the Abuja Treaty provides:
  1. The Community shall be established mainly through the coordination, harmonization and progressive integration of the activities of regional economic communities.
  2. Member States undertake to promote the coordination and harmonization of the integration activities of regional economic communities of which they are members with the activities of the Community, it being understood that the establishment of the latter is the final objective towards which the activities of existing and future regional economic communities shall be geared.
  3. To this end, the Community shall be entrusted with the coordination, harmonization and evaluation of the activities of existing and future regional economic communities.
  4. Member States undertake, through their respective regional economic communities, to coordinate and harmonize the activities of their sub-regional organizations, with a view to rationalizing the integration process at the level of each region.