On 9th September 1999, the Heads of State and Government met in Libya and made the Sirte Declaration calling for the establishment of an African Union and a pan-African parliament.
On 29th may 2000, the document for the formation of African Union and Pan-African Parliament was adopted by the joint sitting of legal experts and parliamentarians.
On 2nd June 2000, heads of state and government meeting in Lome, Togo adopted the Constitutive Act of the African Union drafted by the council of ministers.
The AU was born in 2002, at a Summit held in Durban, South Africa, where the first Assembly of Heads of State of African Union was convened.
Differences between the former Organization of African Unity and the present African Union
Unlike the O.A.U, the A.U challenges the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states. It allows for intervention whenever a member state experiences conflict or widespread human rights violation.
O.A.U was like an Association of African Heads of State, but A.U is like a Union of African Peoples. Increased participation of all African people is manifested in the proposed Pan-African Parliament and an economic, social and cultural council.
Unlike the O.A.U the African Union has an accountability mechanism. An African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) has been developed as a means through which countries can be held accountable on matters of security, development, stability and cooperation.
Unlike the O.A.U, the A.U has a broader development plan for Africa e.g. through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development-NEPAD whose main objectives include to promote accelerated growth and sustainable development, to eradicate the widespread poverty in the continent and to halt the marginalization of Africa in the globalization process.
Unlike OAU, AU presupposes the establishment of a security council and the African Court of Justice with law enforcement powers(A standing military)
The AU Charter:
OBJECTIVES OF AU
To accelerate the political, social and economic integration of the continent.
To promote and defend the African common positions on issues of interest.
To defend the independence and territorial integrity of African states and maintain the sovereignty of these countries.
To promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance.
To establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations.
To promote cooperation among the African states in economic, social and political fields so as to improve living standards.
To achieve and enhance greater African solidarity and unity.
To promote peace, security and stability in the continent through peaceful settlement of disputes.
To advance the development of the continent by promoting research in all fields, particularly in science and technology.
To encourage international cooperation, taking into account the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
To work with relevant international partners in the eradication of preventable diseases and promotion o good health on the continent.
The structure of African Union
The AU charter outlined the structure of AU as follows;
The Assembly.This is the supreme organ of AU meeting once a year to elect a chairperson and determine the common policies of the union, consider requests for admission, monitor implementation of policies and decisions, appoint and terminate the judges of the court of Justice among other functions.(students to make additions) Decisions are either by consensus or by two-thirds majority vote.
The Executive Council. It is made up of Foreign Ministers or the authorities designated by the member states. Its core function is to co-ordinate union policies on areas of common interest like foreign trade, energy, industry, water resources and environmental protection. Such functions can be delegated to specialized technical committees.
The Commission/Secretariat. Comprises a chairperson, deputy chairperson and eight commissioners and staff members. It deals with the administrative issues and implements decisions of the Union.
The Permanent Representatives Committee.It comprises the Ambassadors to the AU. Its main responsibility to prepare for the executive council and run the association daily. It seats permanently in Addis Ababa.
Specialized committees and Agencies. The AU also comprised specialized agencies and committees that handled the technical business of the organization. E.g the Committee on Rural Economy and Agricultural Matters, the Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs, the Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigrations Matters, the Committee on Transport and Communication, the Committee on Education, Human Resource and Culture, the Committee on Health, Labour, and Social Affairs.
The economic and social council. It performs advisory functions
Specialized technical committees. E.g the Committee on Rural Economy and Agricultural matters, the Committee on Trade , Customs and Immigration Matters, The Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, the Committee on Transport, Communication and Tourism, the Committee on Health, Labour and Social Affairs, the Committee on Education, Culture and Human Resources. They perform the following roles;
Prepare projects and programmes of the Union and submit them to the executive council.
Ensure supervision, follow-up and evaluation of the implementation of decisions taken by the organs of the Union.
Ensure co-ordination and harmonization of projects and programmes of the Union.
Submit to the Executive council, their reports and recommendations on implementation of the African Union’s Act.
Other proposed structures though not yet in place are;
The peace and Security Council to comprise 15 members to monitor and intervene in conflicts.
The Pan-African Parliament responsible for ensuring civil society participation in AU matters.
The Court of Justice to deal with human rights abuses in Africa.
Financial Institutions like The African Central Bank, the African Monetary Fund and the African Investment Bank.
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