From the OAU to the AU: a journey through the political unity of Africa

Below is a detailed look at the history and evolution of the African Union.

Origins: The Organization of African Unity (OAU)

The forerunner of the African Union was the Organization of African Unity (OAU), established on May 25, 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The OAU was founded by 32 African states with the main objective of eradicating colonialism and promoting unity and cooperation among African nations. Key founding figures included Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya.

The mission of the OAU was defined by three main objectives:

Promote unity and solidarity of African states.

Coordinate and intensify development cooperation.

Safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Member States.

Despite these ambitions, the OAU faced criticism for its inability to intervene effectively in conflicts and for its policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states.

Transition to the African Union

The need for a more effective and dynamic organization led to the transformation of the OAU into the African Union. This change began during the fourth extraordinary session of the OAU Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Sirte, Libya, in 1999, where the Sirte Declaration called for the establishment of the African Union.

The African Union aims to achieve greater unity and solidarity among African countries and people. Its objectives include:

Accelerate the political and socioeconomic integration of the continent.

Promote and defend common African positions on issues of interest to the continent and its people.

Promote international cooperation.

Promote peace, security and stability on the continent.

Promotion of democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance.

The AU structure includes key bodies such as:

The Executive Council: Composed of ministers or authorities designated by the governments of the member states, it coordinates and makes policy decisions in areas of common interest.

The Commission: Secretariat of the UA, responsible for daily management and administration.

The Pan-African Parliament: Established to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the development and economic integration of the continent.

The Peace and Security Council: Established to ensure peace and security throughout Africa.

Various specialized technical committees and financial institutions.

Key achievements and challenges

Since its inception, the African Union has made significant progress in various areas:

Initiatives to promote peace and security, including interventions in conflict zones such as Darfur, Somalia and the Sahel region.

Efforts to improve governance through the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

Launch Agenda 2063, a strategic framework for the socioeconomic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years.

However, the AU continues to face challenges such as limited financial resources, political instability in member states, and the need for stronger mechanisms to enforce its policies and decisions.