African Union (AU)

Reference work entry
Part of the The Statesman's Yearbook book series (SYBK)

History. The Fourth Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) held in Sirté, Libya on 9 Sept. 1999 decided to establish an African Union. At Lomé, Togo on 11 July 2000 the OAU Assembly of the Heads of State and Government adopted the Constitutive Act of the African Union, which was later ratified by the required two-thirds of the member states of the Organization of African Unity (OAU); it came into force on 26 May 2001. The Lusaka Summit, in July 2001, gave a mandate to translate the transformation of the Organization of African Unity into the African Union, and on 9 July 2002 the Durban Summit, in South Africa, formally launched the African Union.

Members. Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malaŵi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara), São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Aims. The African Union aims to promote unity, solidarity, cohesion and co-operation among the peoples of Africa and African states, and at the same time to co-ordinate efforts by African people to realize their goals of achieving economic, political and social integration.

Activities. The African Union became fully operational in July 2002, and is working towards establishing the organs stipulated in the constitutive act. These include a Pan-African parliament, an Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) and a Peace and Security Council (which have now been inaugurated), plus a Central Bank (which has not yet been launched).

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights was established in 2004. A protocol to set up an African Court of Justice entered into force in 2009, but has been superseded by a plan to create an African Court of Justice and Human Rights—also incorporating the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights—which as of Feb. 2018 had yet to be established. Supporters of the proposal hope that this court will eventually supplant the International Criminal Court in prosecuting human rights abuses in Africa.

The African Union has established several peacekeeping forces, including in Burundi (2003–04), the Darfur region of Sudan (initially from 2004, and as part of a hybrid AU–UN mission since 2007), Somalia (since 2007) and the Central African Republic (since 2013).

  • Official languages: Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Swahili.

  • Headquarters: POB 3243, Roosevelt St. (Old Airport Area), W21K19 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

  • Website:

  • Chairman: Paul Kagame (Rwanda).

  • Chair of the African Union Commission: Moussa Faki Mahamat (Chad).

Further Reading

  1. Makinda, Samuel M., and Okumu, F. Wafula, The African Union: Challenges of Globalization, Security, and Governance. 2007CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Miller-Jones, Edward R., The African Union: Aiming to Unify the Continent. 2010Google Scholar
  3. Muthri, Tim, Akopari, John and Ndinga-Mavumba, Angela, (eds.) The African Union and its Institutions. 2008Google Scholar
  4. New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, African Union Handbook 2017. 2017Google Scholar
  5. Welz, Martin, Integrating Africa: Decolonization’s Legacies, Sovereignty and the African Union. 2012Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019

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