By | October 2, 2021

African Union (AU)


According to growtheology, the AU was founded in 2002 as the international organization and successor to the Organization for African Unity (OAU – see below for details). Its seat is in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and thus in a state that was one of the first on the African continent to belong to the League of Nations and then to the United Nations as a founding member.


Member States want to tackle the massive economic, social and health problems that dominate the continent. Conflicts should be ended as they are the main obstacle to development and integration. In addition, one wants to work with the creditor countries for a complete debt relief.

Members (55)
Members are all African countries. Special developments:

  • Morocco was admitted to the African Union on January 30, 2017 by majority vote. The country had left its predecessor organization OAU in 1984 because of the conflict over the Democratic Arab Republic of the Sahara (DARS) – commonly known as Western Sahara.
  • Western Sahara is a full member of the AU, but not a member of the UN and not a generally recognized state. It is recognized by the AU as a whole, but only by a minority of African states.
  • South Sudan became independent on July 9th, 2011 and became the 54th member of the AU on July 27th, 2011.
  • Various African states were temporarily suspended, mostly due to military coups, such as Niger, Madagascar, Mauritania and Guinea, Egypt. No member country has been suspended since 2016.


The AU charter is largely based on the model of the EU treaties. The founding act contains, among other things, declarations on the respect for human rights and the sovereignty of the member states, but also a passage on the intervention of the Union in member states under certain conditions. The most important organs of the AU are:

  • Meeting of Heads of State and Government (every six months).
  • Executive Council: Prepares the meetings of the heads of state and government at the level of the foreign ministers.
  • Peace and Security Council (PSC): Operational decision-making body with extensive powers in the area of ​​peace and security.
  • AU Commission: AU Executive Body / Secretariat based in Addis Ababa.
  • Pan-African parliament: is still being set up as a further body of the AU and has only had an advisory function so far.
  • African Court of Human Rights

background information

The initiative to found the AU goes back to the Libyan head of state Gaddafi. He had campaigned for it with the African heads of state at great expense and agreed to finance many AU institutions. The idea of ​​an African union had been discussed more intensely since 1999. However, Gaddafi was unable to assert himself with his demand to proclaim the AU on January 1, 2000.

In July 2001, at the summit conference of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Lusaka (Zambia), in which only 33 heads of state took part, the founding charter of the AU was adopted. The AU Treaty (“Charter of the African Union”) formally entered into force in May 2001 after it had been ratified by 2/3 of the OAU members.

At the summit in Durban, South Africa on 08.-09. In July 2002 the 39 year old OAU was formally dissolved and converted into the AU. This is based on the European Union. South African President Thabo Mbeki was elected the first chairman of the AU. He saw the foundation of the AU and its economic arm, the “New Partnership for African Development” (NEPAD), as opening a new chapter in African development.

This subject area of ​​our website is exclusively dedicated to Africa
• Africa


Whether and by when the AU’s goals can be achieved is written in the stars. Why the AU should succeed in something that the OAU has not achieved in almost four decades is completely unclear. The whole thing is more like new wine in old bottles.

In particular, when it comes to resolving conflicts within and between African states, the new AU is unlikely to be more successful than the old OAU, although the member states have even considered a common defense policy. How this is to be realized, however, in a continent in which dozens of states are in civil war and more than half a dozen states are involved in the Congo conflict (the first great “African war”) across borders, nobody knows.

It took the Europeans almost half a century for the – still unfinished – unification of their continent, despite the best conditions such as democracy, market economy and solid governance. How an unification of the African continent should succeed in a far worse situation – authoritarian states, dictatorships, wars, corruption, mismanagement and often miserable governance – is in the stars. And yet: there is no alternative.

The unification of the continent, or at least a peaceful rapprochement between the African states, can only be achieved by rethinking the heads of state and the political elites. In view of former long-term representatives such as AU initiator Gaddafi or Zimbabwe’s dictator Mugawe, this must have been a pipe dream for a long time…

In the short term, therefore, the economic aspects of the merger are likely to be of greater importance. Because Africa in 2020, with almost 1.4 billion inhabitants, represents more than 17 percent of the world population (and this continues to increase), but only accounts for just under three percent of global economic output, the states now want to act together to address this weakness in the To balance out the globalization as much as possible.

If it were possible that the black continent (which after all makes up more than a quarter of the member states of the UN) would speak with one – and clear – voice, for example by endowing the pan-African parliament with real legislative powers, and thus at least more than before in the consciousness of the world public could penetrate, much has already been achieved.

African Union (AU)