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Profile: Founding Fathers of the OAU 1963 and OAU Charter and transformation to AU.The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with 32 signatory governments. One of the main heads for OAU’s establishment was Kwame Nkrumah. It was disbanded on 9 July 2002 by its last chairperson, South African President Thabo Mbeki, and replaced by the African Union (AU). Some of the key aims of the OAU were to encourage political and economic integration among member states, and to eradicate colonialism and neo-colonialism from the African continent. Although it achieved some success, there were also differences of opinion as to how that was going to be achieved.
History of OAU
The OAU was founded in May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by 32 African states with the main aim of bringing the African nations together and resolve the issues within the continent. Its first ever conference was held on 1 May 1963 in Addis Ababa. At that conference, the late Gambian historian—and one of the leading Gambian nationalists and Pan-Africanists at the time—Alieu Ebrima Cham Joof delivered a speech in front of the member states, in which he said:
It is barely 75 years when the European Powers sat around the table in Germany each holding a dagger to carve up Africa for its own benefit.… Your success will inspire and speed up the freedom and total independence of the African continent and eradicate imperialism and colonialism from the continent and eventually neo-colonialism from the globe… Your failure, which no true African in Africa is praying for, will prolong our struggle with bitterness and disappointment. I, therefore, adjure that you ignore any suggestion outside Africa and holding that the present civilization, which some of the big powered are boasting of, sprang up from Africa, and realising that the entire world has something earthly to learn from Africa, you would endeavour your utmost to come to agreement, save Africa from the clutches of neo-colonialism and resurrect African dignity, manhood and national stability.
Aims of OAU
The OAU had the following primary aims:
Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie with President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser in Addis Ababa for the Organisation of African Unity summit, 1963.
To co-ordinate and intensify the co-operation of African states in order to achieve a better life for the people of Africa.
To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of African states.
The OAU was also dedicated to the eradication of all forms of colonialism and white minority rule as, when it was established, there were several states that had not yet won their independence or were white minority-ruled. South Africa and Angola were two such countries. The OAU proposed two ways of ridding the continent of colonialism and white minority rule. First, it would defend the interests of independent countries and help to pursue the independence those of still-colonised ones. Secondly, it would remain neutral in terms of world affairs, preventing its members from being controlled once more by outside powers.
A Liberation Committee was established to aid independence movements and look after the interests of already-independent states. The OAU also aimed to stay neutral in terms of global politics, which would prevent them from being controlled once more by outside forces – an especial danger with the Cold War.
The OAU had other aims, too:
Ensure that all Africans enjoyed human rights.
Raise the living standards of all Africans.
Settle arguments and disputes between members – not through fighting but rather peaceful and diplomatic negotiation.
Soon after achieving independence, a number of African states expressed a growing desire for more unity within the continent. Not everyone was agreed on how this unity could be achieved, however, and two opinionated groups emerged in this respect:
The Casablanca bloc, led by Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, wanted a federation of all African countries. Aside from Ghana, it comprised also Algeria, Guinea, Morocco, Egypt, Mali and Libya. Founded in 1961, its members were described as “progressive states”.
The Monrovian bloc, led by Senghor of Senegal, felt that unity should be achieved gradually, through economic cooperation. It did not support the notion of a political federation. Its other members were Nigeria, Liberia, Ethiopia, and most of the former French colonies.
Some of the initial discussions took place at Sanniquellie, Liberia. The dispute was eventually resolved when Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I invited the two groups to Addis Ababa, where the OAU and its headquarters were subsequently established. The Charter of the Organisation was signed by 32 independent African states.
At the time of the OAU’s disbanding, 53 out of the 54 African states were members; Morocco left on 12 November 1984 following the admission of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as the government of Western Sahara in 1982.
List of Founding Fathers of the OAU
Founding Charter of the Organization of African Unity
May 25, 1963
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
We, the Heads of African States and Governments assembled in the City of Addis
Convinced that it is the inalienable right of all people to control their own destiny,
Conscious of the fact that freedom, equality, justice and dignity are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African peoples,
Conscious of our responsibility to harness the natural and human resources of our continent for the total advancement of our peoples in all spheres of human endeavor,
Inspired by a common determination to promote understanding among our peoples and cooperation among our states in response to the aspirations of our peoples for brother-hood and solidarity, in a larger unity transcending ethnic and national differences,
Convinced that, in order to translate this determination into a dynamic force in the cause of human progress, conditions for peace and security must be established and maintained,
Determined to safeguard and consolidate the hard-won independence as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our states, and to fight against neocolonialism in all its forms,
Dedicated to the general progress of Africa,
Persuaded that the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to the Principles of which we reaffirm our adherence, provide a solid foundation for peaceful and positive cooperation among States,
Desirous that all African States should henceforth unite so that the welfare and wellbeing of their peoples can be assured,
Resolved to reinforce the links between our states by establishing and strengthening common institutions,
Have agreed to the present Charter.
1. The High Contracting Parties do by the present Charter establish an Organization to be known as the ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY.
2. The Organization shall include the Continental African States, Madagascar and other Islands surrounding Africa.
1. The Organization shall have the following purposes:
(a) To promote the unity and solidarity of the African States;
(b) To coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa;
(c) To defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity and independence;
(d) To eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa; and
(e) To promote international cooperation, having due regard to the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
2. To these ends, the Member States shall coordinate and harmonize their general policies, especially in the following fields:
(a) Political and diplomatic cooperation;
(b) Economic cooperation, including transport and communications;
(c) Educational and cultural cooperation;
(d) Health, sanitation and nutritional cooperation;
(e) Scientific and technical cooperation; and
(f) Cooperation for defense and security.
The Member States, in pursuit of the purposes stated in Article II solemnly affirm and declare their adherence to the following principles:
1. The sovereign equality of all Member States.
2. Non-interference in the internal affairs of States.
3. Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each State and for its inalienable right to independent existence.
4. Peaceful settlement of disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation or arbitration.
5. Unreserved condemnation, in all its forms, of political assassination as well as of subversive activities on the part of neighboring States or any other States.
6. Absolute dedication to the total emancipation of the African territories which are still dependent.
7. Affirmation of a policy of non-alignment with regard to all blocs.
Each independent sovereign African State shall be entitled to become a Member of the Organization.
RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF MEMBER STATES
All Member States shall enjoy equal rights and have equal duties.
The Member States pledge themselves to observe scrupulously the principles enumerated in Article III of the present Charter.
The Organization shall accomplish its purposes through the following principal institutions:
1. The Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
2. The Council of Ministers.
3. The General Secretariat.
4. The Commission of Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration.
THE ASSEMBLY OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT
The Assembly of Heads of State and Government shall be the supreme organ of the Organization. It shall, subject to the provisions of this Charter, discuss matters of common concern to Africa with a view to coordinating and harmonizing the general policy of the Organization. It may in addition review the structure, functions and acts of all the organs and any specialized agencies which may be created in accordance with the present Charter.
The Assembly shall be composed of the Heads of State and Government or their duly accredited representatives and it shall meet at least once a year. At the request of any Member State and on approval by a two-thirds majority of the Member States, the Assembly shall meet in extraordinary session.
1. Each Member State shall have one vote.
2. All resolutions shall be determined by a two-thirds majority of the Members of the Organization.
3. Questions of procedure shall require a simple majority. Whether or not a question is one of procedure shall be determined by a simple majority of all Member States of the Organization.
4. Two-thirds of the total membership of the Organization shall form a quorum at any meeting of the Assembly.
The Assembly shall have the power to determine its own rules of procedure.
THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
1. The Council of Ministers shall consist of Foreign Ministers or other Ministers as are designated by the Governments of Member States.
2. The Council of Ministers shall meet at least twice a year. When requested by any Member State and approved by two-thirds of all Member States, it shall meet in extraordinary session.
1. The Council of Ministers shall be responsible to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government. It shall be entrusted with the responsibility of preparing conferences of the Assembly.
2. It shall take cognizance of any matter referred to it by the Assembly. It shall be entrusted with the implementation of the decision of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government. It shall coordinate inter-African cooperation in accordance with the instructions of the Assembly conformity with Article II (2) of the present Charter.
1. Each Member State shall have one vote.
2. All resolutions shall be determined by a simple majority of the members of the Council of Ministers.
3. Two-thirds of the total membership of the Council of Ministers shall form a quorum for any meeting of the Council.
The Council shall have the power to determine its own rules of procedure.
There shall be a Secretary-General of the Organization, who shall be appointed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government. The Secretary-General shall direct the affairs of the Secretariat.
There shall be one or more Assistant Secretaries-General of the Organization, who shall be appointed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
The functions and conditions of service of the Secretary-General, of the Assistant Secretaries-General and other employees of the Secretariat shall be governed by the provisions of this Charter and the regulations approved by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
1. In the performance of their duties the Secretary-General and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority external to the Organization. They shall refrain from any action which might reflect on their position as international officials responsible only to the Organization.
2. Each member of the Organization undertakes to respect the exclusive character of the responsibilities of the Secretary-General and the staff and not to seek to influence them in the discharge of their responsibilities.
COMMISSION OF MEDIATION, CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION
Member States pledge to settle all disputes among themselves by peaceful means and, to this end decide to establish a Commission of Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration, the composition of which and conditions of service shall be defined by a separate Protocol to be approved by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government. Said Protocol shall be regarded as forming an integral part of the present Charter.
The Assembly shall establish such Specialised Commissions as it may deem necessary, including the following:
1. Economic and Social Commission.
2. Educational, Scientific, Cultural and Health Commission.
3. Defense Commission.
Each Specialized Commission referred to in Article XX shall be composed of the Ministers concerned or other Ministers or Plenipotentiaries designated by the Governments of the Member States.
The functions of the Specialized Commissions shall be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the present Charter and of the regulations approved by the Council of Ministers.
The budget of the Organization prepared by the Secretary-General shall be approved by the Council of Ministers. The budget shall be provided by contribution from Member States in accordance with the scale of assessment of the United Nations; provided, however, that no Member State shall be assessed an amount exceeding twenty percent of the yearly regular budget of the Organization. The Member States agree to pay their respective contributions regularly.
SIGNATURE AND RATIFICATION OF CHARTER
1. This Charter shall be open for signature to all independent sovereign African States and shall be ratified by the signatory States in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.
2. The original instrument, done, if possible in African languages, in English and French, all texts being equally authentic, shall be deposited with the Government of Ethiopia which shall transmit certified copies thereof to all independent sovereign African States.
3. Instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the Government of Ethiopia, which shall notify all signatories of each such deposit.
ENTRY INTO FORCE
This Charter shall enter into force immediately upon receipt by the Government of Ethiopia of the instruments of ratification from two-thirds of the signatory States.
REGISTRATION OF CHARTER
This Charter shall, after due ratification, be registered with the Secretariat of the United Nations through the Government of Ethiopia in conformity with Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.
INTERPRETATION OF THE CHARTER
Any question which may arise concerning the interpretation of this Charter shall be decided by a vote of two-thirds of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization.
ADHESION AND ACCESSION
1. Any independent sovereign African State may at any time notify the Secretary-General of its intention to adhere or accede to this Charter.
2. The Secretary-General shall, on receipt of such notification, communicate a copy of it to all the Member States. Admission shall be decided by a simple majority of the Member States. The decision of each Member State shall be transmitted to the Secretary-General, who shall, upon receipt of the required number of votes, communicate the decision to the State concerned.
The working languages of the Organization and all its institutions shall be, if possible African languages, English and French, Arabic and Portuguese.
The Secretary-General may accept, on behalf of the Organization, gifts, bequests and other donations made to the Organization, provided that this is approved by the Council of Ministers.
The Council of Ministers shall decide on the privileges and immunities to be accorded to the personnel of the Secretariat in the respective territories of the Member States.
CESSATION OF MEMBERSHIP
Any State which desires to renounce its membership shall forward a written notification to the Secretary-General. At the end of one year from the date of such notification, if not withdrawn, the Charter shall cease to apply with respect to the renouncing State, which shall thereby cease to belong to the Organization.
AMENDMENT OF THE CHARTER
This Charter may be amended or revised if any Member State makes a written request to the Secretary-General to that effect; provided, however, that the proposed amendment is not submitted to the Assembly for consideration until all the Member States have been duly notified of it and a period of one year has elapsed. Such an amendment shall not be effective unless approved by at least two-thirds of all the Member States.
IN FAITH WHEREOF, We, the Heads of African States and Governments have signed this Charter.
Done in the City of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,
25th day of May, 1963
The African Union
The African Union is a geo-political entity covering the entirety of the African continent. Its origin dates back to the First Congress of Independent African States, held in Accra, Ghana, from 15 to 22 April 1958. The conference aimed at forming the Africa Day to mark the liberation movement, each year, regarding the willingness of the African people to free themselves from foreign dictatorship, as well as subsequent attempts to unite Africa, including the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was established on 25 May 1963, and the African Economic Community in 1981. Critics argued that the OAU in particular did little to protect the rights and liberties of African citizens from their own political leaders, often dubbing it the “Dictators’ Club”.
The idea of creating the AU was revived in the mid-1990s under the leadership of Libyan head of state Muammar al-Gaddafi: the heads of state and government of the OAU issued the Sirte Declaration (named after Sirte, in Libya) on September 9, 1999 calling for the establishment of an African Union. The Declaration was followed by summits at Lomé in 2000, when the Constitutive Act of the African Union was adopted, and at Lusaka in 2001, when the plan for the implementation of the African Union was adopted. During the same period, the initiative for the establishment of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), was also established.
The objectives of the AU are the following:
To achieve greater unity, cohesion and solidarity between the African countries and African nations.
To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States.
To accelerate the political and social-economic integration of the continent.
To promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples.
To encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
To promote peace, security, and stability on the continent.
To promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance.
To promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.
To establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations.
To promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies.
To promote co-operation in all fields of human activity to raise the living standards of African peoples.
To coordinate and harmonise the policies between the existing and future Regional Economic Communities for the gradual attainment of the objectives of the Union.
To advance the development of the continent by promoting research in all fields, in particular in science and technology.
To work with relevant international partners in the eradication of preventable diseases and the promotion of good health on the continent.
The African Union is made up of both political and administrative bodies. The highest decision-making organ is the Assembly of the African Union, made up of all the heads of state or government of member states of the AU. The Assembly is chaired by Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa. The AU also has a representative body, the Pan-African Parliament, which consists of 265 members elected by the national legislatures of the AU member states. Its president is Roger Nkodo Dang.
Other political institutions of the AU include:
the Executive Council, made up of foreign ministers, which prepares decisions for the Assembly;
the Permanent Representatives Committee, made up of the ambassadors to Addis Ababa of AU member states; and
the Economic, Social, and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), a civil society consultative body.
The AU Commission, the secretariat to the political structures, is chaired by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa. On 15 July 2012, Dlamini-Zuma won a tightly contested vote to become the first female head of the African Union Commission, replacing Jean Ping of Gabon.
Other AU structures are hosted by different member states:
the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights is based in Banjul, the Gambia; and
the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and APRM Secretariats and the Pan-African Parliament are in Midrand, South Africa.
The AU’s first military intervention in a member state was the May 2003 deployment of a peacekeeping force of soldiers from South Africa, Ethiopia, and Mozambique to Burundi to oversee the implementation of the various agreements. AU troops were also deployed in the Sudan for peacekeeping during the Darfur Conflict, before the mission was handed over to the United Nations on 1 January 2008 via UNAMID. The AU has also sent a peacekeeping mission to Somalia, consisting of troops from Uganda and Burundi.
The AU has adopted a number of important new documents establishing norms at continental level, to supplement those already in force when it was created. These include the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (2003), the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and its associated Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance
Scramble for Africa
The first attempts to create a politically unified state encompassing the whole of the African continent were made by European colonial powers in the 19th century, intent on harnessing the vast natural resources and huge amount of manpower the continent had to offer to their Empires. However, the strong rivalry between European powers such as Britain, Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Portugal, meant the reality soon dawned that no one nation was powerful enough to outdo all the others, and take complete control of the continent.
Instead, they carved the continent up between them, scrambling for control of as much territory as possible, and attempting to prevent their rivals from obtaining favourable regions. The European powers essentially maintained control of their territories as colonies until the second half of the 20th century, when changes in European policy and thinking, led to releasing of control over their African colonies, and the creation of independent nations across the continent took place between the 1950s and 1970s.
Union of African States
The Union of African States, was a short lasting union of three West African states, in the 1960s – Mali, Ghana, and Guinea. This union was Marxist politically, and was led by such African revolutionaries as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Sékou Touré of Guinea, who was president of Guinea.
On November 23, 1958, a Liberia Ghana-Guinea Union was formed with a flag like that of Ghana but with two black stars. In May 1959 it was announced that the Union would be renamed Union of African States with a flag like that of Ghana “with as many black stars as there were members”. In April 1961 Mali joined this union, so the flag then had three stars. The Union fell apart in 1962, when Guinea started to reach out to the United States, against the acquaintance of their Socialist partner, the U.S.S.R., now known as Russia.
Organisation of African Unity
The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) or Organisation de l’Unité Africaine (OUA) was established on May 25, 1963. It was disbanded on July 9, 2002 by its last chairperson, South African President Thabo Mbeki and replaced by the African Union.
African Economic Community
The African Economic Community (abbreviated AEC) is an organization of African Union states establishing grounds for mutual economic development among the majority of African states. The member states are mounting efforts to collaborate economically, but are impeded by civil wars raging in parts of Africa. The stated goals of the organization include the creation of free trade areas, customs unions, a single market, a central bank, and a common currency thus establishing an economic and monetary union.
Sahrawi membership, Moroccan withdrawal
For over 30 years, the only African state that was a UN member but not a member of the African Union was Morocco, which unilaterally withdrew from the AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), in 1984, when many of the other member states supported the Sahrawi nationalist Polisario Front’s Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Morocco’s ally, Zaire, similarly opposed the OAU’s admission of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, and the Mobutu regime boycotted the organisation from 1984 to 1986. Some countries have since retracted their support for the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and Morocco. Morocco rejoined the AU in 2017.
African and Malagasy Union
The African and Malagasy Union (AMU) or the Union Africaine et Malgache (UAM) in French was a former intergovernmental organization created to promote cooperation among its members. The organization derives its name from the name of the continent of Africa and from the former Malagasy Republic, now Madagascar.
The Sirte Declaration was the resolution adopted by the Organisation of African Unity on 9 September 1999, at the fourth Extraordinary Session of the OAU Assembly of African Heads of State and Government held at Sirte, Libya. The Declaration announces decisions to:
establish the African Union
speed up the implementation of the provisions of the Abuja Treaty, to create an African Economic Community, African Central Bank, African Monetary Union, African Court of Justice and Pan-African Parliament, with the Parliament to be established by 2000
prepare a Constitutive Act of the African Union that can be ratified by 31 December 2000 and become effective the following year
give President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa a mandate to negotiate for the cancellation of the African indebtedness
convene an African Ministerial Conference on security, stability, development and co-operation
The Declaration was followed by summits at Lomé in 2000, when the Constitutive Act of the African Union was adopted, and at Lusaka in 2001, when the plan for the implementation of the African Union was adopted. The first session of the Assembly of the African Union was held in Durban on 9 July 2002.
The inaugural session of the Pan-African Parliament was held in March 2004.
Constitutive Act of the African Union
The Constitutive Act of the African Union sets out the codified framework under which the African Union is to conduct itself. It was signed on July 11, 2000 at Lomé, Togo.
The African Union was launched in Durban on July 9, 2002 by its first president, South African, Thabo Mbeki at the first session of the Assembly of the African Union. The second session of the Assembly was in Maputo in 2003, and the third session in Addis Ababa on July 6, 2004
African Union Politics
The African Union has a number of official bodies:
Pan-African Parliament (PAP)
To become the highest legislative body of the African Union. The seat of the PAP is at Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. The Parliament is composed of 265 elected representatives from all 55 AU states, and intended to provide popular and civil-society participation in the processes of democratic governance. Its president is Roger Nkodo Dang, of Cameroon.
Assembly of the African Union
Composed of heads of state and heads of government of AU states, the Assembly is currently the supreme governing body of the African Union. It is gradually devolving some of its decision-making powers to the Pan-African Parliament. It meets once a year and makes its decisions by consensus or by a two-thirds majority. The current chair of the AU is President Félix Tshisekedi President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
African Union Commission (or Authority)
The secretariat of the African Union, composed of ten commissioners and supporting staff and headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In a similar fashion to its European counterpart, the European Commission, it is responsible for the administration and coordination of the AU’s activities and meetings.
Court of Justice of the African Union
The Constitutive Act provides for a Court of Justice to rule on disputes over interpretation of AU treaties. A protocol to set up this Court of Justice was adopted in 2003 and entered into force in 2009. It was, however, superseded by a protocol creating an African Court of Justice and Human Rights, which will incorporate the already established African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (see below) and have two chambers: one for general legal matters and one for rulings on the human rights treaties.
Composed of ministers designated by the governments of member states. It decides on matters such as foreign trade, social security, food, agriculture and communications, is accountable to the Assembly, and prepares material for the Assembly to discuss and approve. It is chaired by Shawn Makuyana of Zimbabwe (2015– ).
Permanent Representatives’ Committee
Consisting of nominated permanent representatives of member states, the Committee prepares the work for the Executive Council, similar to the role of the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union.
Peace and Security Council (PSC)
Proposed at the Lusaka Summit in 2001 and established in 2004 under a protocol to the Constitutive Act adopted by the AU Assembly in July 2002. The protocol defines the PSC as a collective security and early-warning arrangement to facilitate timely and effective response to conflict and crisis situations in Africa. Other responsibilities conferred to the PSC by the protocol include prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, post-conflict peace building and developing common defence policies. The PSC has fifteen members elected on a regional basis by the Assembly. Similar in intent and operation to the United Nations Security Council.
Economic, Social and Cultural Council
An advisory organ composed of professional and civic representatives, similar to the European Economic and Social Committee. The chair of ECOSOCC, elected in 2008, is Cameroonian lawyer Akere Muna of the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU).
Specialised Technical Committees
Both the Abuja Treaty and the Constitutive Act provide for Specialised Technical Committees to be established made up of African ministers to advise the Assembly. In practice, they have never been set up. The ten proposed themes are: Rural Economy and Agricultural Matters; Monetary and Financial Affairs; Trade, Customs, and Immigration; Industry, Science and Technology; Energy, Natural Resources, and Environment; Transport, Communications, and Tourism; Health; Labour, and Social Affairs; Education, Culture, and Human Resources.
African Central Bank – Abuja, Nigeria
African Investment Bank – Tripoli, Libya
African Monetary Fund – Yaoundé, Cameroon
These institutions have not yet been established; however, the Steering Committees working on their founding have been constituted. Eventually, the AU aims to have a single currency (the Afro).
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), founded in 2016 and launched in 2017.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in existence since 1986, is established under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter) rather than the Constitutive Act of the African Union. It is the premier African human rights body, with responsibility for monitoring and promoting compliance with the African Charter. The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights was established in 2006 to supplement the work of the commission, following the entry into force of a protocol to the African Charter providing for its creation. It is planned that the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights will be merged with the Court of Justice of the African Union (see above).
African Energy Commission
List of African Union Members
All UN member states based in Africa and on African waters are members of the AU, as is the disputed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Morocco, which claims sovereignty over the SADR’s territory, withdrew from the Organisation of African Unity, the AU’s predecessor, in 1984 due to the admission of the SADR as a member. However, on 30 January 2017, the AU admitted Morocco as a member state.
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
São Tomé and Príncipe
Economics and monetary union
A stated goal of the AU is to establish a common African currency and banking institutions.
Role of African Union
One of the key debates in relation to the achievement of greater continental integration is the relative priority that should be given to integration of the continent as a unit in itself or to integration of the sub-regions. The 1980 Lagos Plan of Action for the Development of Africa and the 1991 treaty to establish the African Economic Community (also referred to as the Abuja Treaty), proposed the creation of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as the basis for African integration, with a timetable for regional and then continental integration to follow.
Currently, there are eight RECs recognised by the AU, each established under a separate regional treaty. They are:
the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU)
the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD)
the East African Community (EAC)
the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
The membership of many of the communities overlaps, and their rationalisation has been under discussion for several years—and formed the theme of the 2006 Banjul summit. At the July 2007 Accra summit the Assembly finally decided to adopt a Protocol on Relations between the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities. This protocol is intended to facilitate the harmonisation of policies and ensure compliance with the Abuja Treaty and Lagos Plan of Action time frames.
Selection of the chairperson
In 2006, the AU decided to create a Committee “to consider the implementation of a rotation system between the regions” in relation to the presidency. Controversy arose at the 2006 summit when Sudan announced its candidacy for the AU’s chairmanship, as a representative of the East African region. Several member states refused to support Sudan because of tensions over Darfur (see also below). Sudan ultimately withdrew its candidacy and President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo was elected to a one-year term. At the January 2007 summit, Sassou-Nguesso was replaced by President John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana, despite another attempt by Sudan to gain the chair. The year 2007 was the 50th anniversary of Ghana’s independence, a symbolic moment for the country to hold the chair of the AU—and to host the mid-year summit at which the proposed Union Government was also discussed. In January 2008, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania took over as chair, representing the East African region and thus apparently ending Sudan’s attempt to become chair—at least till the rotation returns to East Africa. The current chair is South Africa.
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