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What is African Union? Its historic background and geopolitical role.

African union got the permanent membership of the G20 under the presidency of India, in the year 2022 to 2023. India has been advocating actively for a fair representation to the Africans at world forums including the UN and others. It got successfully the African Union on board for G20. However the name of the G20 will stay the same despite being now the 19 countries + 2 Unions that is the European Union and African Union. (Know about G20 here)

What is African Union?

The African Union (AU) is a group of African continental countries with 55 member states headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

It was officially launched in 2002. Prior to 2002 it was a body known as the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which was founded in 1963.

The primary objective of the African Union is to promote unity, cooperation, and development among African nations and advance the continent's interests on the global stage.

It aims to strengthen political, economic, and social integration among African countries, with a vision of achieving an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa.

Structure of African Union

Assembly: The highest decision-making body, consisting of the heads of state and government of member countries.

Executive Council: Made up of foreign affairs ministers, handles policy matters and makes recommendations to the Assembly.

AU Commission: The administrative arm responsible for implementing the decisions of the Assembly and the Executive Council.

The Peace and Security Council: Responsible for maintaining peace and security on the continent.

The AU structure promotes the participation of African citizens and civil society through the Pan-African Parliament and the Economic, Social & Cultural Council (ECOSOCC)

History of African Union

In May 1963, 32 Heads of independent African States met in Addis Ababa Ethiopia to sign the Charter creating Africa’s first post-independence continental institution, The Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The OAU was the manifestation of the pan-African vision for an Africa that was united, free and in control of its own destiny and this was solemnised in the OAU Charter in which the founding fathers recognised that freedom, equality, justice and dignity were essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African peoples and that there was a need to promote understanding among Africa’s peoples and foster cooperation among African states in response to the aspirations of Africans for brother-hood and solidarity, in a larger unity transcending ethnic and national Differences. The guiding philosophy was that of Pan-Africanism which centred on African socialism and promoted African unity, the communal characteristic and practices of African communities, and a drive to embrace Africa’s culture and common heritage. (Source: African Union)

The Charter of the OAU indicated the purpose of the Organisationn as:

  • To promote the unity and solidarity of the African States;

  • To coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa;

  • To defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity and independence;

  • To eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa; and

  • To promote international cooperation, having due regard to the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Geopolitical importance of African Union

African Union location as it is right at the centre of the world and all trade passes somewhere closer to the Africans, the horn of Africa is important point of contestation as it is a choke point for world trade due to piracy, security and radicalism.

Than, Africa is a huge market and resource rich continent along with energy sources.

A Fact on African Union

The AU's most recent member state is Morocco, having joined on 31 January 2017. Morocco withdrew from the OAU in 1984 following the organization's acceptance of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a member state, as it has disputes with respect to the territory. Morocco rules over most of the territory, but sovereignty is disputed.



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