Template:African Union table The African Union (abbreviated AU), founded in July 2002, is the successor organisation to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Modelled after the European Union (but currently with powers closer to the Commonwealth of Nations), it aims to help promote democracy, human rights and development across Africa, especially by increasing foreign investment through the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) programme. Its first chairman was South African president Thabo Mbeki.
Goals for the African Union include an African parliament and a central development bank. As with its predecessor, the OAU, the African Union is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Pan-African Parliament opened officially September 16, 2004, in South Africa.
The current Chairman of the Commission, H.E. Alpha Oumar Konaré, leads the African Union.
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. The mission was known as AMIB and has since been taken over by the United Nations, which has designated it ONUB.
In response to the ongoing Darfur crisis in the Sudan, the AU has deployed 300 soldiers, mostly from Rwanda, to Darfur to protect the AU observers. As of 2004, it is considering the deployment of up to 2,500 peacekeepers to the region. In 2005 there was a donor's conference held in the African Union's headquarters of Addis Abbaba where enough money was raised that it is believed there will be enough money to raise AU troop levels to 7,000 in September and to 12,000 in the begining of 2006.
In response to the death of Gnassingbé Eyadéma, president of Togo, on February 5, 2005, AU leaders described the naming of his son Faure Gnassingbé the successor as a military coup . Togo's constitution calls for the speaker of parliament to succeed the president in the event of his death. By law, the parliament speaker must call national elections to choose a new president within 60 days.
As of 2004, current conflicts also include the:
- Algerian Civil War,
- Casamance Conflict,
- Second Congo War,
- Somali Civil War,
- Second Sudanese Civil War and
- Second Ugandan Civil War.
Origins and history
The idea of an African Union began with the vision of a "United States of Africa" of controversial Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, who, frustrated by developments in the Arab world, has in recent years largely given up his long-held ideologies of Arab nationalism and Pan-Arabism, even publicly forsaking identity as an Arab, preferring instead the label African. Having now taken up Pan Africanism, and from Libya's position of relative wealth within the African economy, Qaddafi plays an important role in African affairs, dispensing liberal amounts of foreign aid on cash-poor friends across the continent, where he has long enjoyed a better reputation than in other areas of the world.
The heads of state and heads of government of the OAU issued the Sirte Declaration on September 9, 1999, calling for the establishment of an African Union. The Sirte 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 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.
- Pan-African Parliament, to be in South Africa, composed of elected representatives from the five regions of Africa, and intended to provide civil-society participation in the processes of the African Union. This institution is similar to the Assembly of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.
- African Commission, composed of 10 commissioners (including a chair and deputy chair) and staff. As the secretariat of the African Union, it is responsible for administrative issues and co-ordination of African Union activities and meetings. As of 2004, the Chairman is Alpha Oumar Konaré, former president of Mali. This institution is similar to the European Commission.
- African Court of Justice, which will rule on human-rights abuses in Africa. The court consists of 11 judges, elected by the Assembly. This court is similar to the European Court of Human Rights.
- Executive Council, composed of ministers designated by the governments of members 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.
- Assembly, composed of heads of state and heads of government of member states. The most important decision-making body of the African Union, it meets once a year and makes its decisions by consensus or by a two-thirds majority. The current Chairman of the Assembly is Olusegun Obasanjo, president of Nigeria. This institution is a mix between the European Council and the United Nations General Assembly.
- Permanent Representatives' Committee, composed of nominated permanent representatives of member states. It prepares the work for the Executive Council. This institution is similar to the Council of Permanent Representatives of the European Union.
- Peace and Security Council, proposed at the Lusaka Summit in 2001; a protocol to establish this group has not yet been ratified. It would have 15 members responsible for monitoring and intervening in conflicts, would be advised by a council of elders, and would have an African force at its disposal. This institution is similar to the Security Council of the United Nations.
- Economic, Social and Cultural Council, an advisory organ composed of professional and civic representatives. This institution is similar to the European Economic and Social Council.
Specialized Technical Committees on:
- Rural Economy and Agricultural Matters
- Monetary and Financial Affairs
- Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters
- Industry, Science and Technology, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment
- Transport, Communications and Tourism
- Health, Labour and Social Affairs
- Education, Culture and Human Resources
Main article: Economy of Africa
The member states' efforts to collaborate economically are impeded by the civil wars raging in several parts of Africa. The African Union provides greater powers to govern African Economies. The states goals include the creation of a free trade areas, common currency, and central bank.
The African Union promotes the use of African languages wherever possible in its official work. Its other working languages are Arabic, English, French and Portuguese, although other languages are used officially by some member states. For example, Spanish is co-official with French in Equatorial Guinea. Supplemental protocols to the African Union have made Swahili an official language of the African Union.
The emblem of the African Union consists of a gold ribbon bearing small interlocking red rings, from which palm leaves shoot up around an outer gold circle and an inner green circle, within which is a gold representation of Africa. The red interlinked rings stand for African solidarity and the blood shed for the liberation of Africa; the palm leaves, for peace; the gold, for Africa's wealth and bright future; the green, for African hopes and aspirations. To symbolise African unity, the silhouette of Africa is drawn without internal borders.
The flag of the African Union bears a broad green horizontal stripe, a narrow band of gold, the emblem of the African Union at the centre of a broad white stripe, another narrow gold band and a final broad green stripe. Again, the green and gold symbolise Africa's hopes and aspirations as well as its wealth and bright future, and the white represents the purity of Africa's desire for friends throughout the world.
The African Union has adopted a new anthem, which begins Let us all unite and celebrate together, and has the chorus O sons and daughters of Africa, flesh of the sun and flesh of the sky, Let us make Africa the tree of life.
- The New African Initiative and the African Union: A Preliminary Assessment and Documentation by Henning Melber, Publisher: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Sweden; ISBN 91-7106-486-9; (October 2002)
- African Union official site
- African Union Summit 2002 in Durban, South Africa
- African Union Summit 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique
- African Union Summit 2005 in Abuja, Nigeria
- Profile: African Union - BBC, last updated 29 December 2004
- African Union replaces dictators' club - BBC, 8 July 2002
- LookSmart - African Union directory category
- Open Directory Project - African Union directory category
- Yahoo - African Union directory category
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