The main objectives of the OAU were, inter alia, to rid the continent
of the remaining vestiges of colonization and apartheid; to promote
unity and solidarity among African States; to coordinate and intensify
cooperation for development; to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial
integrity of Member States and to promote international cooperation
within the framework of the United Nations.
Indeed, as a continental organization
the OAU provided an effective forum that enabled all Member States
to adopt coordinated positions on matters of common concern to the
continent in international fora and defend the interests of Africa
Through the OAU Coordinating
Committee for the Liberation of Africa, the Continent worked and
spoke as one with undivided determination in forging an international
consensus in support of the liberation struggle and the fight against
Quest for Unity
African countries, in their
quest for unity, economic and social development under the banner
of the OAU, have taken various initiatives and made substantial
progress in many areas which paved the way for the establishment
of the AU. Noteworthy among these are:
- Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) and
the Final Act of Lagos (1980); incorporating programmes and strategies
for self reliant development and cooperation among African countries.
- The African Charter on Human and
People’s Rights (Nairobi 1981) and the Grand Bay Declaration
and Plan of Action on Human rights: two instruments adopted by
the OAU to promote Human and People’s Rights in the Continent.
The Human Rights Charter led to the establishment of the African
Human Rights Commission located in Banjul, The Gambia.
- Africa’s Priority Programme
for Economic recovery (APPER) – 1985: an emergency programme
designed to address the development crisis of the 1980s, in the
wake of protracted drought and famine that had engulfed the continent
and the crippling effect of Africa’s external indebtedness.
- OAU Declaration on the Political
and Socio-Economic Situation in Africa and the Fundamental Changes
taking place in the World (1990): which underscored Africa’s
resolve to seize the imitative, to determine its destiny and to
address the challenges to peace, democracy and security.
- The Charter on Popular Participation
adopted in 1990: a testimony to the renewed determination of the
OAU to endeavour to place the African citizen at the center of
development and decision-making.
- The Treaty establishing the African
Economic Community (AEC) - 1991: commonly known as the Abuja Treaty,
it seeks to create the AEC through six stages culminating in an
African Common Market using the Regional Economic Communities
(RECs) as building blocks. The Treaty has been in operation since
- The Mechanism for Conflict Prevention,
Management and Resolution (1993): a practical expression of the
determination of the African leadership to find solutions to conflicts,
promote peace, security and stability in Africa.
- Cairo Agenda for Action (1995):
a programme for relaunching Africa’s political, economic
and social development.
- African Common Position on Africa’s
External Debt Crisis (1997): a strategy for addressing the Continent’s
External Debt Crisis.
- The Algiers decision on Unconstitutional
Changes of Government (1999) and the Lome Declaration on the framework
for an OAU Response to Unconstitutional Changes (2000).
- The 2000 Solemn Declaration on the
Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation:
establishes the fundamental principles for the promotion of Democracy
and Good Governance in the Continent.
- Responses to other challenges: Africa
has initiated collective action through the OAU in the protection
of environment, in fighting international terrorism, in combating
the scourge of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, malaria and tuberculosis
or dealing with humanitarian issues such as refugees and displaced
persons, landmines, small and light weapons among others.
- The Constitutive Act of the African
Union: adopted in 2000 at the Lome Summit (Togo), entered into
force in 2001.
- The New Partnership for Africa’s
Development (NEPAD) : adopted as a Programme of the AU at the
Lusaka Summit (2001).
of the AU
The OAU initiatives paved
the way for the birth of AU. In July 1999, the Assembly decided to
convene an extraordinary session to expedite the process of economic
and political integration in the continent. Since then, four Summits
have been held leading to the official launching of the African Union:
Sirte Extraordinary Session (1999) decided to establish
an African Union
Summit (2000) adopted the Constitutive Act of the Union.
Summit (2001) drew the road map for the implementation
of the AU
Summit (2002) launched the AU and convened the 1st Assembly
of the Heads of States of the African Union.
AU is Africa’s premier institution and principal organization
for the promotion of accelerated socio-economic integration of
the continent, which will lead to greater unity and solidarity
between African countries and peoples.
AU is based on the common vision of a united and strong Africa
and on the need to build a partnership between governments and
all segments of civil society, in particular women, youth and
the private sector, in order to strengthen solidarity and cohesion
amongst the peoples of Africa.
a continental organization it focuses on the promotion of peace,
security and stability on the continent as a prerequisite for
the implementation of the development and integration agenda of
Objectives of the AU
- To achieve greater unity
and solidarity between the African countries and the peoples of
- To defend the sovereignty, territorial
integrity and independence of its Member States;
- To accelerate the political and socio-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 harmonize 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.
Organs of the AU
Composed of Heads of State
and Government or their duly accredited representatives. The Assembly
of Heads of State and Government is the supreme organ of the Union.
Composed of Ministers
or Authorities designated by the Governments of Members States. The
Executive Council is responsible to the Assembly.
Composed of the Chairperson, the
Deputy Chairperson, eight Commissioners and Staff members; Each Commissioner
shall be responsible for a portfolio.
Composed of Permanent Representatives of Member States accredited
to the Union. The Permanent Representatives Committee is charged with
the responsibility of preparing the work of the Executive Council.
Peace and Security
By decision AHG/Dec 160 (xxxvii) of the Summit of Lusaka, July 2001,
a decision was made for the creation within the African Union of the
Peace and Security Council. The Protocol establishing the PSC is in
the process of ratification.
A Pan-African Parliament, and organ to ensure the full participation
of African peoples in governance, development and economic integration
of the Continent. The protocol relating to the composition, powers,
functions and organization of the Pan-African Parliament has been
signed by Member States and is in the process of ratification.
The Economic, Social and Cultural Council, an advisory organ composed
of different social and professional groups of the Member States of
the Union. The statutes determining the functions, powers, composition
and organization of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council have
been prepared and will be submitted to Maputo Summit.
The Court of Justice
A Court of Justice of the Union shall be established. The statutes
defining the composition and functions of the Court of Justice have
been prepared and will be submitted to the Assembly in Maputo.
The Specialized Technical Committees
The following Specialized Technical Committees are meant to address
sectoral issues and are at Ministerial Level:
on Rural Economy and Agricultural Matters;
The Committee on
Monetary and Financial Affairs;
The Committee on
Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters;
The Committee on
Industry, Science and Technology, Energy, Natural Resources and
The Committee on
Transport, Communications and Tourism;
The Committee on
Health, Labour and Social Affairs; and
The Committee on
Education, Culture and Human Resources.
in the implementation of the Constitutive Act
Since the Lusaka Summit
decisions on the transition from OAU to AU, progress has been made
and adoption of the Legal Instruments for the operationalization
and the launching of the 4 principal organs: The Assembly, The
Executive Council, The Commission and the Permanent Representatives
of the Structure of the Commission and the conditions of service
Completion of the
Studies and Legal instrument for the operationalization of ECOSOCC
Completion of the
Studies on the Financing of the AU
the Statutes of the Court of Justice
Transfer of assets
and liabilities from the OAU to the AU
a Protocol on Relations between the AU and RECS
the Protocol on the Pan-African Parliament (under ratification)
the Protocol on the Peace and Security Council (under ratification)
the Policy Framework for the establishment of the African Standby
Force and the Military Staff Committee
the process of electing Members of the Commission by the Assembly
of the Union in Maputo.
The Commission is the
key organ playing a central role in the day-to-day management of the
African Union. Among others, it represents the Union and defends its
interests; elaborates draft common positions of the Union; prepares
strategic plans and studies for the consideration of the Executive
Council; elaborates, promotes, coordinates and harmonizes the programmes
and policies of the Union with those of the RECs; ensures the mainstreaming
of gender in all programmes and activities of the Union.
Members of the
Portfolios of the
1. PEACE AND SECURITY
(Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, and Combating Terrorism...)
2. POLITICAL AFFAIRS (Human Rights,
Democracy, Good Governance, Electoral Institutions, Civil Society
Organizations, Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees, Returnees and Internally
3. INFRASTRUCTURE AND ENERGY (Energy,
Transport, Communications, Infrastructure and Tourism…)
4. SOCIAL AFFAIRS (Health, Children,
Drug Control, Population, Migration, Labour and Employment, Sports
5. HUMAN RESOURCES, SCIENCE AND
TECHNOLOGY (Education, Information Technology Communication, Youth,
Human Resources, Science and Technology…)
6. TRADE AND INDUSTRY (Trade, Industry,
Customs and Immigration Matters…)
7. RURAL ECONOMY
AND AGRICULTURE (Rural Economy, Agriculture and Food Security,
Livestock, Environment, Water and Natural Resources and Desertification…)
8. ECONOMIC AFFAIRS (Economic
Integration, Monetary Affairs, Private Sector Development,
Investment and Resource Mobilization…).
In accordance with Article
33 (4) of the Constitutive Act, the Secretary General, the Assistant
Secretaries General (ASGs) and the Staff of the former General Secretariat
of the OAU have been designated as the Interim staff of the Commission.
After the Durban (South Africa)
Summit, an interim period began with effect from July 9, 2002 to
last for a duration of one year, after which the 2nd Ordinary session
of the Assembly in Maputo (Mozambique) shall elect the Chairperson,
the Deputy Chairperson and appoint the Commissioners through the