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African Union
Flag of the African Union, formerly used by the OAU Emblem of the African Union
( In Detail) ( In Detail)
Anthem: Let us all unite and celebrate together
Location of the African Union
Official languages The African languages, as well as Arabic, Swahili, English, French and Portuguese
Some member states have other official languages.
Chairman of the African Union Denis Sassou-Nguesso
Chairman of the Commission Alpha Oumar Konaré
- Total
Ranked 1st
29,797,500 km2
- Total (2005)
- Density
Ranked 3rd
850 millon
25.7 people/km²
GDP (2003)
- Total
- Total
- GDP/head
- GDP/head
Ranked 16th
US.515 trillion (PPP)
{main}.514 trillion (Nominal)
,896 (PPP)
3 (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.
Note 1: Rank if the African Union's members are counted as a single country (members of other organisations are not counted in this way).
The African Union (abbreviated AU) was founded in July 2002. The AU is a federation consisting of 53 states. It was formed as a successor to the amalgamated African Economic Community (AEC) and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Eventually, the AU aims to have a single currency and a single integrated defense force, as well as other institutions of state, including a cabinet for the AU Head of State. The purpose of the federation is to help secure for Africans democracy, human rights and a sustainable economy, especially by bringing an end to intra-African conflict and creating an effective common market.The AU is governed by the Pan African Parliament and the AU Assembly of Heads of State. The current President of the Parliament, and therefore the de facto head of state of Africa is Gertrude Mongella. The AU covers the entire continent except for Morocco, which opposes the membership of Western Sahara as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. However, Morocco has a special status within the AU and benefits from the services available to all AU states from the institutions of the AU, such as the African Development Bank. Moroccan delegates also participate at important AU functions, and negotiations continue to try to resolve the conflict with the Saharawi Republic.

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Origins and history
AU Summits
Current issues

Overview - Contents

The current Chairman of the Commission, Alpha Oumar Konaré, leads the African Union Commission, which itself constitutes a part of the secretariat of the Pan African Parliament.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. AU troops are also deployed in Sudan for peacekeeping in the Darfur conflict.

Origins and history - Contents

The African Union originated in the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was established on May 25, 1963. Critics argued that the OAU did little to protect the rights and liberties of African citizens from their own political leaders, often dubbing it "The Dictators Club".The idea of an African Union, separate from the OAU began with the vision of a " United States of Africa" of 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 his identity as an Arab.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.Its Constitutive Act declares that it shall "invite and encourage the full participation of the African diaspora as an important part of our Continent, in the building of the African Union." The African Union has defined the African diaspora as "[consisting] of people of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union."

Members - Contents

Map of the African Union. All African countries are member-states, with the exception of Morocco.
Map of the African Union. All African countries are member-states, with the exception of Morocco.
The African Union has 53 members, covering almost all of the continent of Africa.

AU Summits - Contents

  1. Durban (South Africa): 9-11 Jul. 2002.
  2. Maputo (Mozambique): 10-11 Jul. 2003.
    • Sirte (Libya), extraordinary summit: Feb. 2004.
  3. Addis Ababa (Ethiopia): 6-8 Jul. 2004.
  4. Abuja (Nigeria): 24-31 Jan. 2005.
  5. Sirte (Libya): 28 Jun. - 5 Jul. 2005.
  6. Khartoum (Sudan): 16-24 Jan. 2006.

Organisation - Contents

The current Chairman of the African Union is Denis Sassou-Nguesso, and the Commission Chairman is Alpha Oumar Konaré.The African Union has a number of official bodies:
  • The Pan-African Parliament, is the highest governing body of the African Union. The interim seat of the PAP is at Midrand, South Africa. The Parliament is composed of 265 elected representatives from all 53 AU states, and intended to provide popular and civil-society participation in the processes of democratic governance.
  • The African Commission is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 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. The current Chairperson is, since September 2003, Alpha Oumar Konaré, former president of Mali, and the Deputy Chairperson is Patrick Mazimhaka, a previously long-serving member of Cabinet in the Rwandan government and later Special Presidential Envoy. This institution is similar to the European Commission.
  • The African Court of Justice, which will rule on human-rights abuses in Africa. The court consists of 11 judges, elected by the Assembly.
  • The 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.
  • The Assembly of the African Union, composed of heads of state and heads of government of AU states, is gradually devolving its decision-making powers to the Pan African Parliament. It meets once a year and makes its decisions by consensus or by a two-thirds majority. The current Chairman of the Assembly is Denis Sassou-Nguesso, president of Congo-Brazzaville.
  • The Permanent Representatives' Committee, composed of nominated permanent representatives of member states, prepares the work for the Executive Council. This institution is similar to the Permanent Representatives' Committee ( COREPER) of the European Union.
  • The 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. This institution is similar to the Security Council of the United Nations.
  • The Economic, Social and Cultural Council, an advisory organ composed of professional and civic representatives. This institution is similar to the European Economic and Social Council.
  • Specialized Technical Committees
Financial institutions:
  • African Central Bank
  • African Monetary Fund
  • African Investment Bank

Current issues - Contents

The AU faces many challenges, including health issues such as combating malaria and the HIV epidemic; political issues such as confronting totalitarian, undemocratic regimes and mediating in the many civil wars; economic issues such as improving the standard of living of millions of impoverished, uneducated Africans; ecological issues such as dealing with recurring famines, desertification and lack of ecological sustainability; as well as the legal issue of the still unfinished decolonization of Western Sahara, one of its member states (admitted to the AU under the name Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic).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 2005 a donor's conference was held in the African Union's headquarters of Addis Ababa where enough money was raised that it is believed there will be enough money to raise AU troop levels to 7,000 in September and to 12,000 in the beginning of 2006.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. [2] 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. The AU's protest forced Gnassingbé to hold elections. Under heavy allegations of election fraud, he was officially elected President on May 4, 2005.Also, on August 3, 2005 a coup transpired in Mauritania that led the African Union to suspend the country from all organisational activities. Although the Military Council now ruling Mauritania has promised to hold elections within two years, it is unclear whether it will be true to its word. As of 2006, current conflicts also include the:
  • Algerian Civil War
  • Casamance Conflict
  • Chadian-Sudanese War
  • Second Congo War
  • Somali Civil War, including Somaliland's claim for independence
  • North-South Conflict in Sudan
  • Conflict in northern Uganda
  • Ivorian Civil War
  • Zimbabwe's political crisis
However, the most serious issue to face Africa is not a dispute between nations, but rather the rapid spread of the HIV virus. Subsaharan Africa is by far the worst affected area in the world, and as the infection is now starting to claim lives by the millions, severe destabilization of the continent is expected to follow.Controversy arose at the 2006 summit when Sudan announced a candidate for the AU's Chairmanship. Five member states threatened to withdraw support for a Sudanese candidate because of tensions over Darfur. Sudan ultimately withdrew its candidacy and Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville was elected to a one-year term.

Economy - Contents

The member states' efforts to collaborate economically are impeded by the civil wars raging in several parts of Africa. The African Union provides greater powers to govern African economies. The states goals include the creation of free trade areas, customs unions, single market, a central bank and a common currency and thus establishing economic and monetary union.These goals should be achieved through the creating of the African Economic Community (AEC).
African Economic Community
blocs (REC)
Area (km²) Population GDP (PPP) () Member
in millions per capita
AEC 29,910,442 853,520,010 2,053,706 2,406 53
ECOWAS 5,112,903 251,646,263 342,519 1,361 15
ECCAS 6,667,421 121,245,958 175,928 1,451 11
SADC 9,882,959 233,944,179 737,335 3,152 14
EAC 1,763,777 97,865,428 104,239 1,065 3
COMESA 12,873,957 406,102,471 735,599 1,811 20
IGAD 5,233,604 187,969,775 225,049 1,197 7
266,000 273,008 ? ? 4 4
Area (km²) Population GDP (PPP) () Member
in millions per capita
CEMAC 1 3,020,142 34,970,529 85,136 2,435 6
SACU 1 2,693,418 51,055,878 541,433 10,605 5
UEMOA 1 3,505,375 80,865,222 101,640 1,257 8
UMA 2 5,782,140 84,185,073 491,276 5,836 5
Agadir 1,703,910 126,066,286 513,674 4,075 4
1 Economic bloc inside a pillar REC
2 Proposed for pillar REC, but objecting participation
3 Signatory to the AEC, but not participating in any bloc yet
4 Regional divisions

██ smallest value among the blocs compared

██ largest value among the blocs comparedDuring 2004. Source: CIA World Factbook 2005, IMF WEO Database

Most active regional blocs
Area (km²) Population GDP (PPP) () Member
in millions per capita
EU 3,977,487 460,124,266 11,723,816 25,480 25
CARICOM 462,344 14,565,083 64,219 4,409 14+1 3
ECOWAS 5,112,903 251,646,263 342,519 1,361 15
CEMAC 3,020,142 34,970,529 85,136 2,435 6
EAC 1,763,777 97,865,428 104,239 1,065 3
CSN 17,339,153 370,158,470 2,868,430 7,749 10
GCC 2,285,844 35,869,438 536,223 14,949 6
SACU 2,693,418 51,055,878 541,433 10,605 5
COMESA 3,779,427 118,950,321 141,962 1,193 5
NAFTA 21,588,638 430,495,039 12,889,900 29,942 3
ASEAN 4,400,000 553,900,000 2,172,000 4,044 10
SAARC 5,136,740 1,467,255,669 4,074,031 2,777 8
Agadir 1,703,910 126,066,286 513,674 4,075 4
EurAsEC 20,789,100 208,067,618 1,689,137 8,118 6
CACM 422,614 37,816,598 159,536 4,219 5
PARTA 528,151 7,810,905 23,074 2,954 12+2 3
blocs and
Area (km²) Population GDP (PPP) () Political
in millions per capita
UN 133,178,011 6,411,682,270 55,167,630 8,604 191
India 3,287,590 1,102,600,000 3,433,000 3,100 35
China 9,596,960 1,306,847,624 7,249,000 5,200 33
USA 9,631,418 296,900,571 11,190,000 39,100 50
Canada 9,984,670 32,507,874 958,700 29,800 13
Russia 17,075,200 143,782,338 1,282,000 8,900 89
1 Including data only for full and most active members
2 The first two states in the World by area, population and GDP (PPP)
3 Including non-sovereign autonomous entities of other states

██ smallest value among the blocs compared

██ largest value among the blocs comparedDuring 2004. Source: CIA World Factbook 2005, IMF WEO Database

Languages - Contents

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. Supplemental protocols to the African Union have made Swahili an official language of the African Union.

Symbols - Contents

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.

Resources - Contents

  • African Economic Community
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