Message of the OAU Secretary-General, Mr Amara Essy, on the Occasion of the 39th Anniversary of the OAU, Addis Ababa, 25 May 2002
Dear Fellow Africans,
We are celebrating today the 39th Anniversary of our Continental Organization. It is an opportunity to pay solemn tribute to the Founding Fathers who, on 25 May 1963, took the historic decision of providing our Continent and its peoples with an institution capable of sustaining their deep aspirations for freedom, dignity, unity and solidarity. During the 39 years of its existence, the OAU did not disappoint the African peoples and their Leaders. It revealed itself as an indispensable instrument in our struggle for decolonization and independence. It proved itself to be a crucible in which the unity and cohesion of our Continent were forged.
It is to pursue the ideals which imbued the Founding Fathers and the ultimate principles and purposes contained in the Charter of the OAU, that the African Leaders, at their Extraordinary Summit in Sirte, on 9.9.99, decided to establish an African Union to be the successor to the OAU to continue with the exalting task of building Africa within an African and international framework marked by deep changes.
The African Union distinguishes itself by stressing the need for the economic integration of the Continent as defined in the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community. As a matter of fact, within the new globalized international economic context and based on a competition whose participants are henceforth the regional economic groupings, there is no alternative to economic integration as a strategy for the promotion for sustainable socio-economic development in Africa. From there, it is obvious that only by closing ranks within the framework of the African Economic Community, within the African Union, that Africa can avoid being further marginalized. The emerging African Union will provide the appropriate framework within which the necessary partnership between the Governments, representatives of the peoples, economic operators and the civil society in general must be strengthened in order to promote the economic and social development of our Continent. In sum total, the African Union must be an essential actor in the development of the Continent.
Apart from its economic dimension, the Union must also be a space within which the democratic aspirations of the African peoples must be promoted. In this regard, it must be stressed that the Constitutive Act of the African Union, which contains the new provisions on the observance and promotion of human rights, the rule of law and gender issue, affords a privileged context for the strengthening of democracy and popular participation. Indeed, the bodies representing the African peoples and the economic and social forces, such as the Pan-African Parliament and the Economic, Social and Cultural Council, are called upon to play a key role in the establishment of the African Union.
The Constitutive Act of the African Union intends also to give a new impetus aimed at promoting peace and security which are indispensable for the economic and social progress of our Continent. If in the past, we were able, though with many difficulties, to arrest some conflicts, it must be recognized that we have to show greater determination and political will and mobilize more resources, means and talents to take up, in a decisive manner, the challenges of conflicts faced by our Continent. The persistence of conflicts in the Mano River Region, the problem of peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and the Great Lakes Region as a whole, the instability in Central Africa and in the Horn of Africa, where conflicts in Somalia and Southern Sudan continue to prevail, summon us and remind us of the imperative need to find lasting solutions to these conflicts which afflict our Continent and annihilate its efforts for socio-economic recovery. It is within this context that the on-going efforts aimed at strengthening the OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution and harmonizing and coordinating further its activities with those of regional mechanisms, assume all its significance.
In this regard, there is need to rejoice at the fact that at the time when we are moving towards the African Union, our Continent adopted two important initiatives to better channel the political will, energies and resources in Africa, to speed up the attainment of our objectives in all fields. They are the establishment of the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA) and the adoption of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). These two initiatives undeniably contribute great value added to the action of the African Union.
On its part, the CSSDCA constitutes a forum for the development of common values together with a mechanism in charge of ensuring the actual implementation of collective decisions adopted by our Member States within the purview of the African Union. As for NEPAD, it represents a true plan of action for the political and economic renaissance of the Continent, embodied by the African Union. It is a plan designed by Africans for Africans and taking due account of the new political and socio-economic realities prevailing in Africa and in the world. It intends to give a new momentum to the development efforts of our Continent within the framework of a partnership between the Governments and the economic operators on the one hand and between Africa and the international community, particularly the developed countries, on the other. Definitively, in addition, to the factor of geography which is one of the bases of our unity, we must, within the African Union, and with the assistance of NEPAD and CSSDCA, develop and share the common values which will cement this unity. Within the African Union, NEPAD and CSSDCA must act as strong levers to speed up the economic integration and the promotion of peace, security and stability on the Continent.
On the eve of the historic Summit of Durban, which will be the last Summit of the OAU, I would like to pay high tribute to the African peoples and their Leaders for the sacrifices made for African freedom, dignity and unity within the framework of the Organization of African Unity.
On the eve of the historic meeting of Durban, which will mark the Inaugural Summit of the African Union, I express my conviction that this will be the occasion for a new departure for Africa which will henceforth present itself as a credible and determined partner to carry out courageously the necessary political, social, and economic reforms to occupy its rightful place in the comity of nations. By addressing my greetings to all the daughters and sons of this Continent, wherever they may be and in whatever condition they may be, I call upon them to mobilize themselves for this major design which is the African Union. The African Union is not the affair of Governments only. It is also and especially that of all the peoples of Africa and their representatives.
Together and united, within the African Union, we shall be able to face the challenges of the eradication of poverty, the struggle against illiteracy and exclusion, the endemic diseases and instability. Together and by relying on our means, and by establishing the conditions conducive to an increased support of our partners in development, we shall be able to build a Union which is commensurate with our aspirations.
Long live Africa!
Long live the African Union!