Heads of State and Government
Launching of the African Union
Durban (South Africa), 9 July 2002
African Union Headquarters
(Addis Ababa, Ethiopia )
UNION IN A NUTSHELL
QUEST FOR UNITY
ADVENT OF THE AU
THE VISION OF THE AU
THE ORGANS OF THE AU
PROGRESS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONSTITUTIVE ACT
THE AU COMMISSION
The advent of the African Union
(AU) can be described as an event of great magnitude in the institutional
evolution of the continent. On 9.9.1999, the Heads of State and Government of
the Organisation of African Unity issued a Declaration (the Sirte Declaration)
calling for the establishment of an African Union, with a view, inter alia, to
accelerating the process of integration in the continent to enable it play its
rightful role in the global economy while addressing multifaceted social,
economic and political problems compounded as they are by certain negative
aspects of globalisation.
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
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 effectively.
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 apartheid.
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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
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 1994.
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).
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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:
The Sirte Extraordinary Session
(1999) decided to establish an African Union
The Lome Summit (2000) adopted the
Constitutive Act of the Union.
The Lusaka Summit (2001) drew the road
map for the implementation of the AU
The Durban Summit (2002) launched the
AU and convened the 1st Assembly of the Heads of States of the African Union.
The Vision of the AU
The 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.
The 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.
As 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 the Union.
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The Objectives of the AU
To achieve greater unity and solidarity
between the African countries and the peoples of Africa;
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
To promote peace, security, and stability on the
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
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
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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.
The Executive Council
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.
The Permanent Representatives'
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 Council
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:
The Committee on Rural Economy and
The Committee on Monetary and
The Committee on Trade, Customs and
The Committee on Industry, Science and
Technology, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment;
The Committee on Transport,
Communications and Tourism;
The Committee on Health, Labour and
Social Affairs; and
The Committee on Education, Culture
and Human Resources.
The Financial Institutions
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Progress in the implementation of the
Since the Lusaka Summit decisions on the
transition from OAU to AU, progress has been made as follows:
The preparation 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 Committee.
The elaboration of the Structure of
the Commission and the conditions of service of staff.
Completion of the Studies and Legal
instrument for the operationalization of ECOSOCC
Completion of the Studies on the
Financing of the AU
Preparation of the Statutes of the
Court of Justice
Transfer of assets and liabilities
from the OAU to the AU
Preparation of a Protocol on Relations
between the AU and RECS
Finalization of the Protocol on the
Pan-African Parliament (under ratification)
Finalization of the Protocol on the
Peace and Security Council (under ratification)
Preparation of the Policy Framework
for the establishment of the African Standby Force and the Military Staff
Finalization of the process of
electing Members of the Commission by the Assembly of the Union in Maputo.
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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
Members of the Commission
Portfolios of the Commission
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 Displaced Persons)
3. INFRASTRUCTURE AND ENERGY (Energy, Transport,
Communications, Infrastructure and Tourism.)
4. SOCIAL AFFAIRS (Health, Children, Drug
Control, Population, Migration, Labour and Employment, Sports and Culture.)
5. HUMAN RESOURCES, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
(Education, Information Technology Communication, Youth, Human Resources,
Science and Technology.)
6. TRADE AND INDUSTRY (Trade, Industry, Customs and
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
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 Executive Council.