The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






African Union

African Union
(In Detail) (In Detail)
Anthem: Let us all unite and celebrate together
Official languages The African languages, as well as Arabic, English, French and Portuguese

Some member states have other official languages.


 - Total

Ranked 1st *

29,797,500 km2


 - Total (2000)
 - Density

Ranked 3rd *

25.7 people/km²

GDP (2003)

 - Total
 - Total
 - GDP/head
 - GDP/head

Ranked 16th *

  US$1.515 trillion (PPP)
  $0.514 trillion (Nominal)
  $1,896 (PPP)
  $643 (Nominal)


 - As OAU
 - As AU


May 25 1963
July 9 2002

Currencies Each member state has its own currency.
Time zone UTC -1 to UTC +4
Internet TLD Each member state has its own top-level domain.
Calling Codes Each member state has its own calling code beginning with +2.
*If counted as a single country

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.

Because of the membership of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara), Morocco has chosen to be the only African nation that is not a member.

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.

Current issues

The AU faces many problems, from the HIV epidemic and poverty to many civil wars.

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 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 [1]. 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:

Origins and History

The African Union originated in the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was established on May 25, 1963.

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.


The African Union has 53 members, covering almost all of the continent of Africa. Morocco chooses not to be a member because the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara) is.


The Current Chairman of the African Union is Olusegun Obasanjo, and the Commission chairman is Alpha Oumar Konare

The African Union is modelled on the European Union and has a number of official bodies:

  • 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.
  • 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 Konare, former president of Mali.
  • African Court of Justice , which will rule on human-rights abuses in Africa. The court consists of 11 judges, elected by the Assembly.
  • 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.
  • Permanent Representatives' Committee , composed of nominated permanent representatives of member states. It prepares the work for the Executive Council.
  • 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.
  • Economic, Social and Cultural Council , an advisory organ composed of professional and civic representatives.

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

Financial institutions:

  • African Central Bank
  • African Monetary Fund
  • African Investment Bank


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 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.


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.


External links

Last updated: 08-07-2005 10:52:33
Last updated: 09-03-2005 18:37:12