The Commission consists of 11 members elected by the AU Assembly from experts nominated by the state parties to the Charter. The Assembly considers equitable geographical and gender representation in electing the members of the Commission. Members of the Commission are elected for a six-year term and are eligible for reelection.
Once elected, the commissioners serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of their respective countries. Previously, some members of the Commission held high political offices at the national level, which affects the Commission’s independence. The AU in April 2005 issued a note verbale to member states prescribing guidelines for nomination of members to the Commission which excluded senior civil servants and diplomatic representatives.
Bureau of the Commission
The Commission elects its Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson as the Bureau of the Commission. They are elected for a term of two years and are eligible for re-election once. The Bureau coordinates the activities of the Commission and supervises and assesses the work of the Commission’s Secretariat. The Bureau is also empowered to take decisions on matters of emergency between the sessions of the Commission. It is however obligated to present a report on the situation to members at the next session of the Commission.
Secretariat of the Commission
The Chairperson of the AU Commission appoints the Secretary of the African Commission including other support staff necessary for the effective discharge of the Commission’s mandate. The Secretariat provides administrative, technical and logistical support to the Commission.