Virtual Kollage: The aims and objectives of the African Union

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The aims and objectives of the African Union



THE AFRICAN UNION (AU)
Introduction
The continental organization, the African Union, was launched at its inaugural Summit in Durban, South Africa from 9th July, 2002. There were 40 heads of state at that summit who witnessed the ceremony.
The headquarters of the African Union is Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Until the AU was formed, the main organization of the continent was the Organization of African Unity.

OBJECTIVES OF THE AFRICAN UNION
Unity between African countries
Achieve greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and the peoples of Africa.

Defense
Defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States.

Integration
Accelerate the political and social and economic integration of the continent.

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

International cooperation
Encourage international cooperation, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Peace and Security
Promote peace, security, and stability on the continent.

Democratic Principle
Promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance.

Protect Human Rights
Promote and protect human and people’s rights in accordance with the African Charter on human and peoples’ Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.

Enabling Environment
Establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations.

Sustainable Development
Promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies.

Cooperation
Promote cooperation in all fields of human activity to raise the living standards of African peoples.

Coordinate Policies
Coordinate and harmonize policies between existing and fixture Regional Economic Communities for the gradual attainment of the objectives of the Union.

Promote Research
Advance the development of the continent by promoting research in all fields, in particular in science and technology.

Eliminate Preventable Diseases
Work with relevant international partners in the eradication of preventable diseases and the promotion of good health on the continent.

PRINCIPLES GOVERNING THE AFRICAN UNION
The African Union functions is designed to function based on certain principles and some of those principles are listed below:
1.            Sovereign equality and inter- dependence among Member States of the Union;
2.            Respect of borders existing on achievement of independence;
3.            Participation of the African peoples in the activities of the Union;
4.            Establishment of a common defense policy for the African Continent;
5.            Peaceful resolution of conflicts among Member States of the Union through such appropriate means as may be decided upon by the Assembly;
6.            Prohibition of the use of force or threat to use force among Member States of the Union;
7.            Non-interference by any Member State in the internal affairs of another;
8.            The right of the Union to intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely war crimes genocide and crimes against humanity;
9.            Peaceful co-existence of Member States and their right to live in peace and security;
10.          The right of Member States to request intervention from the Union in order to restore peace and security;
11.          Promotion of self-reliance within the framework of the Union-
12.          Promotion of gender equality;
13.          Respect for democratic principles, human rights, the rule of law and good governance;
14.          Promotion of social justice to ensure balanced economic development.
15.          Respect for the sanctity of human life, condemnation and rejection of impunity and political assassination, acts of terrorism and subversive activities;
16.          Condemnation and rejection of unconstitutional changes of governments.

WHY AFRICAN UNION WAS FORMED TO REPLACE THE ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY
Interest of African Leaders
The O.A.U. had protected the interests of African leaders without addressing the real problems of the continent. Only the leaders mattered, the followers did not matter.

Non-interference
The Organization of African Unity was not able to deal with the problem of extreme cases of human rights abuse among member states because of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of Member-States. This had prevented the organization from taking required steps in dealing with such cases.

African Marginalization
The Organization of African Unity had not been able to do anything about the economic marginalization of the African continent. Africa seemed to have left behind by the rest of the world and the O.A.U. was unable to do nothing to address the problem.

Dictator Regimes
Democracy was under a serious threat by the presence and frequent emergence of despotic regimes in the African states. This was not good enough for the fledgling democracy of the continent. There was also a threat to the principle of rule of law and good governance. These principles were negotiable if the continent was to develop.

Involvement of Civil Society
The Organization of African Unity did not involve civil society in its operations and there were no mechanisms for doing so. This was considered as a loophole which alienated the organization from the ordinary African.

Non-recognition of women
The structures and operations of the O.A.U. failed to integrate women, youth and marginalized youth.

OAU at a Cross-road
By the end of the 20th century, all African countries had become sovereign states. There was, therefore, no struggle against colonialism or battle against Apartheid South Africa. The O.A.U. got to a cross-road and did not to know which direction to take.

Internal Conflicts
The Organization of African Unity had been demobilized by internal conflicts and self-serving leaders. If the continent was to get out of the woods and make any meaningful progress, the situation as it was, had to change.

Economic & Political integration
The O.A.U. had failed to achieve political and economic integration among member states. This had defeated the basic reason for its formation which was unity.

SAMPLE QUESTIONS
1. a. What is the African Union?
    b. Highlight six objectives of the African Union.
2. a. State four objectives for the formation of the African Union.
    b. Highlight five reasons why the African Union had to replace the Organization of African Unity.
3. Discuss six issues that necessitated the formation of the African Union to replace the Organization of African Unity.
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