African Union

Written by Saptaparni Raha

The African Union is an international organisation which is consisting of the 55 member states of African Continent. It came into exist in 2002 as a successor to the organisation of African Unity. The history of African Union dates back when 32 heads of independent African states met in Addis Ababa Ethiopia to sign in the charter for creation of Africa’s first post continental institution known as the organisation of African Unity in the year of 1963. It was the manifestation of the Pan African Vision to make Africa united, free and in control of its own destiny. This OAU charter recognised the terms like freedom, equality, justice and dignity for its people.

Freedom from colonisation and apartheid and promoting the unity, solidarity among all states, to pave the path of cooperation for development and safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity were the main objective of OAU. OAU has started to operate on the basis of its charter in the year of 1991. It comprises of certain major organs like Assembly of heads of state and government, Council of ministers and the general secretariat. It also has the commission of mediation, conciliation and Arbitration, economic and social commission, educational, scientific and cultural and health commission.

Transition to the African Union:

In the year of 1999 OAU issued the Sirte declaration by its heads of state and government to establish the African Union. The main object was to accelerate the process of integration in Africa and to support the empowerment of African States. After that 4 summit held to establish this union as follows:

  • Sirte Sumit that adopted sirte declaration to establish the AU.
  • Lome Summit: It is responsible for adopting the AU constitutive Act
  • Lusaka Summit: It paves the way to implement the AU
  • Durban Summit: It is responsible for launching the AU and convened its first Assembly of Heads of state and Government .

Aims of African Union:     

 The feel of achieving the greater unity and solidarity amongst all African countries and their people .

  • Sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its member states needs to be defended .
  • Acceleration of political and socio-economic integration .
  • Encouragement of international cooperation.
  • Promoting the peace, security and stability .
  • Eradication of all forms of colonialism from Africa .
  • Protection of human and peoples’ right in accordance with African charter on peoples’ charter on human rights .
  • Sustainable development at the stages of economic , social and cultural levels .
  • Development of technology and promoting the science and research for the continent .
  • Eradication of all disease and promoting the good health on the continent with the help of other relevant international partners .

Organs of African Union:

The assembly of the Union:  This organ is comprised of the head of state and government . It meets at least once in a year. It shall be considered as the principle organ of the Union. It determines monitors and implements the common policies of the Union. It empowers to elect the members of African Commission on human rights. It also has the power to elect judges for the future court of justice.

The executive Council: The composition of the executive council includes the ministers of foreign affairs. It meets at least twice in a year. It aims to co-ordinates and take decision on policies where the matter is related to common interest of member states including foreign trade, protection of the environment and humanitarian issues. It also considers the issues regarding all the matters which have been referred to it and monitor the implementation of policies made by the Assembly.

The Commission: It functions like the secretariat of AU which is composed of chairperson with his or her deputy deputies and the commissioners.

The Pan African Parliament: This is the single organ that serves two organisations the AU and African Economic community. The African economic community was established by the OAU that promotes economic development and integration of African economy. The pan African parliament was established by a protocol which was adopted in March 2001 and came into existence on 14th December 2003. It followed by the ratification of 24 states. This protocol provides that the member states of this organ shall be elected or designated by national parliaments. Each state party must have the members of five persons and at least one would be a woman.

The peace and security council: The protocol of 9th July 2002 initiates the organ of peace and security council. This protocol has been ratified by 44 AU member states . It replaced the organ of conflict prevention. management and resolution of OAU which was incorporated into the institution structure of the AU in the year of July 2001.

The economic and social council: This organ was provided by the constitutive Act of AU. It came into existence as an advisory organ. It shall comprises of different social and professional groups of the member states of the AU.

The African Court of Justice:  This organ was also provided by the constitutive Act of AU. It established for resolving the disputes relating to interpretation of treaties , protocol of any statutes , composition and function.

Economic Community of West African States: This is the regional group of fifteen countries which shall promote the economic integration in all fields of economic activity specially in industries , transport, telecommunications, energy, natural resources financial matters etc. ECOWAS shall consist of following organs are as follows:

  • The commission
  • The community development
  • The community court of justice
  • ECOWAS bank for investment and development

African Union Human Rights system: The African union human rights system is considered to be the youngest human rights system which shall comprised of the three judicial and one quasi judicial human rights system. It was created under the guidance of African Union. It shall have a commission and a court with complementary mandates. The African commission on human and peoples’ right, African court on human peoples’ right and African committee of experts on the rights and welfare of the child are coming under this human rights system which shall compliance with all human rights standards. It also includes the individual complaints of human violations. This human rights system runs by African court on human and peoples’ rights which has the advisory and continuous jurisdiction that concerns the interpretation and application of African court on human and peoples’ rights also known as Banjul charter.

African union is not so successful as an organ in the matter of implementing its human rights system for its people. It has been traumatised by human rights violations . Its history dates back many abuses and traumatic life condition. Court attempts to fulfill its dream, but at least it turns into disappointment. So the implementations needs to be more effective with strong penalty mechanism.



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