African Union
Overview
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n states
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The most important decisions of the AU are made by the Assembly of the African Union
Assembly of the African Union
The Assembly of the African Union, which is formally known as the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government AU-AHSG, is one of several decision-making bodies within the African Union. The other bodies are the Pan African Parliament, the Executive Council consisting of foreign...

, a semi-annual meeting of the heads of state and government of its member states.
Encyclopedia
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n states
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The most important decisions of the AU are made by the Assembly of the African Union
Assembly of the African Union
The Assembly of the African Union, which is formally known as the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government AU-AHSG, is one of several decision-making bodies within the African Union. The other bodies are the Pan African Parliament, the Executive Council consisting of foreign...

, a semi-annual meeting of the heads of state and government of its member states. The AU's secretariat, the African Union Commission, is based in Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia...

, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

.

Overview

Among the objectives of the AU's leading institutions are:
  • to accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent;
  • to promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples;
  • to achieve peace and security in Africa; and
  • to promote democratic institutions, good governance and human rights
    Human rights
    Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

    .


The African Union is made up of both political and administrative bodies. The highest decision-making organ is the Assembly of the African Union
Assembly of the African Union
The Assembly of the African Union, which is formally known as the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government AU-AHSG, is one of several decision-making bodies within the African Union. The other bodies are the Pan African Parliament, the Executive Council consisting of foreign...

, made up of all the heads of state or government of member states of the AU. The Assembly is chaired by Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is an Equatoguinean politician who has been President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979. He ousted his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, in an August 1979 military coup and has overseen Equatorial Guinea's emergence as an important oil producer, beginning in the 1990s...

, leader of Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea, officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea where the capital Malabo is situated.Annobón is the southernmost island of Equatorial Guinea and is situated just south of the equator. Bioko island is the northernmost point of Equatorial Guinea. Between the two islands and to the...

, elected at the tenth ordinary meeting of the Assembly in January 2011. The AU also has a representative body, the Pan African Parliament, which consists of 265 members elected by the national parliaments of the AU member states. Its president is Idriss Ndele Moussa
Idriss Ndele Moussa
Idriss Ndele Moussa is the president of the African Union's Pan-African Parliament. He became president on May 29, 2009. The other leading contenders for the presidency were Sawadogo Lassane and Mostefa Abdelaziz El-Gendy...

.

Other political institutions of the AU include
  • the Executive Council
    Executive Council of the African Union
    The Executive Council of the African Union is made up of ministers designated by the governments of member countries. They discuss issues of concern and prepare material for the Assembly, to whom they are responsible...

    , made up of foreign minister
    Foreign minister
    A Minister of Foreign Affairs, or foreign minister, is a cabinet minister who helps form the foreign policy of a sovereign state. The foreign minister is often regarded as the most senior ministerial position below that of the head of government . It is often granted to the deputy prime minister in...

    s, which prepares decisions for the Assembly;
  • the Permanent Representatives Committee, made up of the ambassador
    Ambassador
    An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

    s to Addis Ababa
    Addis Ababa
    Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia...

     of AU member states; and
  • the Economic, Social, and Cultural Council
    Economic, Social, and Cultural Council
    The Economic, Social and Cultural Council is an advisory body of the African Union designed to give civil society organizations a voice within the AU institutions and decision-making processes...

     (ECOSOCC), a civil society consultative body.


The AU Commission, the secretariat to the political structures, is chaired by Jean Ping
Jean Ping
Jean Ping is a Gabonese diplomat and politician who is currently the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union...

 of Gabon
Gabon
Gabon , officially the Gabonese Republic is a state in west central Africa sharing borders with Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, and with the Republic of the Congo curving around the east and south. The Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean is to the west...

.

The main administrative capital of the African Union is in Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia...

, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, where the African Union Commission is headquartered. Other AU structures are hosted by different member states:
  • the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
    African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
    The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights is a quasi-judicial body tasked with promoting and protecting human rights and collective rights throughout the African continent as well as interpreting the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and considering individual complaints of...

     is based in Banjul
    Banjul
    -Transport:Ferries sail from Banjul to Barra. The city is served by the Banjul International Airport. Banjul is on the Trans–West African Coastal Highway connecting it to Dakar and Bissau, and will eventually provide a paved highway link to 11 other nations of ECOWAS.Banjul International Airport...

    , The Gambia
    The Gambia
    The Republic of The Gambia, commonly referred to as The Gambia, or Gambia , is a country in West Africa. Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, surrounded by Senegal except for a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean in the west....

    ; and
  • the New Partnership for Africa's Development
    New Partnership for Africa's Development
    The New Partnership for Africa's Development is an economic development program of the African Union. NEPAD was adopted at the 37th session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in July 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia...

     (NEPAD) and APRM Secretariats and the Pan-African Parliament
    Pan-African Parliament
    The Pan-African Parliament , also known as the African Parliament, is the legislative body of the African Union and held its inaugural session in March 2004. The PAP exercises oversight, and has advisory and consultative powers, lasting for the first five years...

     are in Midrand, South Africa
    South Africa
    The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

    .


The AU covers the entire continent except for the Îles Éparses, Réunion
Réunion
Réunion is a French island with a population of about 800,000 located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, about south west of Mauritius, the nearest island.Administratively, Réunion is one of the overseas departments of France...

, Mayotte
Mayotte
Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France consisting of a main island, Grande-Terre , a smaller island, Petite-Terre , and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, namely between northwestern Madagascar and...

, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha is a British overseas territory and overseas territory of the European Union consisting of the islands of Saint Helena, Ascension Island and the Tristan da Cunha group...

, Madeira
Madeira
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago that lies between and , just under 400 km north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the north Atlantic Ocean and an outermost region of the European Union...

, Spanish North Africa, and Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

. Morocco is not a member because its government opposes the membership of Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

 as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is a partially recognised state that claims sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony. SADR was proclaimed by the Polisario Front on February 27, 1976, in Bir Lehlu, Western Sahara. The SADR government controls about...

. 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
African Development Bank
The African Development Bank Group is a development bank established in 1964 with the intention of promoting economic and social development in Africa...

. Moroccan delegates also participate at important AU functions, and negotiations continue to try to resolve the conflict with the Polisario Front
Polisario Front
The POLISARIO, Polisario Front, or Frente Polisario, from the Spanish abbreviation of Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y Río de Oro is a Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement working for the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco...

 in Tindouf
Tindouf
Tindouf is the main town in Tindouf Province, Algeria, close to the Mauritanian and Moroccan borders. The region is considered of strategic significance, and it houses Algerian military bases. Since 1975, it also contains several Sahrawi refugee camps operated by the Polisario Front a guerrilla...

, Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 and the parts of Western Sahara.

The AU's first military intervention in a member state was the May 2003 deployment of a peacekeeping force of soldiers from South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, and Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

 to Burundi
Burundi
Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

 to oversee the implementation of the various agreements. AU troops were also deployed in Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 for peacekeeping in the Darfur conflict
Darfur conflict
The Darfur Conflict was a guerrilla conflict or civil war centered on the Darfur region of Sudan. It began in February 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and Justice and Equality Movement groups in Darfur took up arms, accusing the Sudanese government of oppressing non-Arab Sudanese in...

, before the mission was handed over to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 on 1 January 2008 UNAMID. The AU has also sent a peacekeeping mission to Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

, of which the peacekeeping troops are from Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

 and Burundi
Burundi
Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

.

The AU has adopted a number of important new documents establishing norms at continental level, to supplement those already in force when it was created. These include the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption
African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption
The African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption was adopted in Maputo on 11 July 2003 to fight rampant political corruption on the African continent. It represents regional consensus on what African states should do in the areas of prevention, criminalization, international...

 (2003), the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007), the New Partnership for Africa's Development
New Partnership for Africa's Development
The New Partnership for Africa's Development is an economic development program of the African Union. NEPAD was adopted at the 37th session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in July 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia...

 (NEPAD) and its associated Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance.

Membership

Members

The following countries are members of the African Union:

















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Former members

- left the AU's predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1984, when the majority of member countries supported the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is a partially recognised state that claims sovereignty over the entire territory of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony. SADR was proclaimed by the Polisario Front on February 27, 1976, in Bir Lehlu, Western Sahara. The SADR government controls about...

 (proclaimed by the Polisario Front
Polisario Front
The POLISARIO, Polisario Front, or Frente Polisario, from the Spanish abbreviation of Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y Río de Oro is a Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement working for the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco...

 in 1976 claiming the representation of the Western Sahara
Western Sahara
Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Its surface area amounts to . It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly...

), resulting on SADR admission in the AU. Morocco's ally, Zaire
Zaire
The Republic of Zaire was the name of the present Democratic Republic of the Congo between 27 October 1971 and 17 May 1997. The name of Zaire derives from the , itself an adaptation of the Kongo word nzere or nzadi, or "the river that swallows all rivers".-Self-proclaimed Father of the Nation:In...

 (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

), similarly opposed the OAU's admission of the Sahrawi Republic, and the Mobutu
Mobutu Sese Seko
Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga , commonly known as Mobutu or Mobutu Sese Seko , born Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, was the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1965 to 1997...

 regime boycotted the organisation from 1984 to 1986. Some countries have since retracted their support for the Sahrawi Republic.

Organizations

The African Union has a number of official bodies:

Pan-African Parliament
Pan-African Parliament
The Pan-African Parliament , also known as the African Parliament, is the legislative body of the African Union and held its inaugural session in March 2004. The PAP exercises oversight, and has advisory and consultative powers, lasting for the first five years...

 (PAP): To become the highest legislative body of the African Union. The seat of the PAP is at Midrand, South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. The Parliament is composed of 265 elected representatives from all 54 AU states, and intended to provide popular and civil-society participation in the processes of democratic governance. Its president is Hon. Dr. Idriss Ndele Moussa
Idriss Ndele Moussa
Idriss Ndele Moussa is the president of the African Union's Pan-African Parliament. He became president on May 29, 2009. The other leading contenders for the presidency were Sawadogo Lassane and Mostefa Abdelaziz El-Gendy...

 of Chad
Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

.

Assembly of the African Union
Assembly of the African Union
The Assembly of the African Union, which is formally known as the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government AU-AHSG, is one of several decision-making bodies within the African Union. The other bodies are the Pan African Parliament, the Executive Council consisting of foreign...

: Composed of heads of state and heads of government of AU states, the Assembly is currently the supreme governing body of the African Union. It is gradually devolving some of 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 chair of the AU is President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is an Equatoguinean politician who has been President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979. He ousted his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, in an August 1979 military coup and has overseen Equatorial Guinea's emergence as an important oil producer, beginning in the 1990s...

.

African Union Authority : The secretariat of the African Union, composed of ten commissioners and supporting staff and headquartered in Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia...

, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

. In a similar fashion to its European
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 counterpart, the European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

, it is responsible for the administration and co-ordination of the AU's activities and meetings.

African Court of Justice
African Court of Justice
The African Court of Justice was originally intended to be the “principal judicial organ of the Union” with authority to rule on disputes over interpretation of AU treaties....

: The Constitutive Act provides for a Court of Justice to rule on disputes over interpretation of AU treaties. A protocol to set up the Court of Justice was adopted in 2003 and entered into force in 2009. It is likely to be superseded by a protocol creating a Court of Justice and Human Rights, which will incorporate the already established African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples' Rights (see below) and have two chambers—one for general legal matters and one for rulings on the human rights treaties.

Executive Council
Executive Council of the African Union
The Executive Council of the African Union is made up of ministers designated by the governments of member countries. They discuss issues of concern and prepare material for the Assembly, to whom they are responsible...

: Composed of ministers designated by the governments of member 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.

Permanent Representatives' Committee
Permanent Representatives' Committee of the African Union
The Permanent Representatives' Committee of the African Union is made up of nominated representatives of member countries by the African Union.Chair - Nigeria1st Vice-Chair - Republic of Congo2nd Vice-Chair - Rwanda3rd Vice-Chair - Libya...

: Consisting of nominated permanent representatives of member states, the Committee prepares the work for the Executive Council, similar the role of the Committee of Permanent Representatives
Committee of Permanent Representatives
COREPER, from French Comité des représentants permanents, is the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union, made up of the head or deputy head of mission from the EU member states in Brussels....

 in the European Union.

Peace and Security Council
Peace and Security Council
The Peace and Security Council is the organ of the African Union in charge of enforcing union decisions. It is patterned somewhat after the United Nations Security Council....

 (PSC): Proposed at the Lusaka Summit in 2001 and established in 2004 under a protocol to the Constitutive Act adopted by the AU Assembly in July 2002. The protocol defines the PSC as a collective security and early warning arrangement to facilitate timely and effective response to conflict and crisis situations in Africa. Other responsibilities conferred to the PSC by the protocol include prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, post-conflict peace building and developing common defence policies. The PSC has fifteen members elected on a regional basis by the Assembly. Similar in intent and operation to the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

.

Economic, Social and Cultural Council
Economic, Social and Cultural Council
The Economic, Social and Cultural Council is an advisory body of the African Union designed to give civil society organizations a voice within the AU institutions and decision-making processes...

: An advisory organ composed of professional and civic representatives, similar to the European Economic and Social Committee
Economic and Social Committee
The European Economic and Social Committee is a body of the European Union established in 1958. It is a consultative assembly composed of employers , employees and representatives of various other interests...

. The chair of ECOSOCC, elected in 2008, is Cameroonian lawyer Akere Muna of the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU).

Specialised Technical Committees: Both the Abuja Treaty and the Constitutive Act provide for Specialised Technical Committees to be established made up of African ministers to advise the Assembly. In practice, they have never been set up. The ten proposed themes are: Rural Economy and Agricultural Matters; Monetary and Financial Affairs; Trade, Customs, and Immigration; Industry, Science and Technology; Energy, Natural Resources, and Environment; Transport, Communications, and Tourism; Health; Labour, and Social Affairs; Education, Culture, and Human Resources.

Financial institutions:
  • African Central Bank
    African Central Bank
    The African Central Bank is one of the three financial institutions of the African Union. Over time, it will take over responsibilities of the African Monetary Fund....

     – Abuja
    Abuja
    Abuja is the capital city of Nigeria. It is located in the centre of Nigeria, within the Federal Capital Territory . Abuja is a planned city, and was built mainly in the 1980s. It officially became Nigeria's capital on 12 December 1991, replacing Lagos...

    , Nigeria
    Nigeria
    Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

  • African Investment Bank
    African Investment Bank
    The African Investment Bank is one of three financial institutions of the African Union along with the African Monetary Fund and the African Central Bank...

     – Tripoli
    Tripoli
    Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

    , Libya
    Libya
    Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

  • African Monetary Fund
    African Monetary Fund
    The Africa Monetary Fund will be an African Union financial institution, though in time its responsibilities will be transferred to the African Central Bank.This institution is one of the three financial institutions of the future African Union. It will be based in Yaoundé, Cameroon. -Links:**...

     – Yaounde
    Yaoundé
    -Transportation:Yaoundé Nsimalen International Airport is a major civilian hub, while nearby Yaoundé Airport is used by the military. Railway lines run west to the port city of Douala and north to N'Gaoundéré. Many bus companies operate from the city; particularly in the Nsam and Mvan neighborhoods...

    , Cameroon
    Cameroon
    Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

    .


These institutions have not yet been established, however, the Steering Committees working on their founding have been constituted. Eventually, the AU aims to have a single currency (the Afro
Afro (currency)
The African Monetary Union is the proposed creation of an economic and monetary union for the countries of the African Union, administered by the African Central Bank...

).

Human rights: The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights is a quasi-judicial body tasked with promoting and protecting human rights and collective rights throughout the African continent as well as interpreting the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and considering individual complaints of...

, in existence since 1986, is established under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights
African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights
The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights is an international human rights instrument that is intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms in the African continent....

 (the African Charter) rather than the Constitutive Act of the African Union. It is the premier African human rights body, with responsibility for monitoring and promoting compliance with the African Charter. The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights
African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights
The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights was a regional court that was created initially to make judgments on African Union states' compliance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights....

 was established in 2006 to supplement the work of the Commission, following the entry into force of a protocol to the African Charter providing for its creation. It is planned that the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights will be merged with the African Court of Justice (see above).

African Energy Commission
African Energy Commission
The African Energy Commission is a continental African structure with the responsibility to ensure, co-ordinate and harmonise the protection, preservation, development and the national exploitation, marketing and integration of the energy resources of the African continent.It was launched on the...


Role of the diaspora

The Constitutive Act of the AU declares that it shall "invite and encourage the full participation of the African diaspora
African diaspora
The African diaspora was the movement of Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world—predominantly to the Americas also to Europe, the Middle East and other places around the globe...

 as an important part of our Continent, in the building of the African Union". The African Union Government 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".

Current issues

The AU faces many challenges, including health issues such as combating malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 and the AIDS
AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

/HIV
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 epidemic; political issues such as confronting undemocratic regimes and mediating in the many civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

s; economic issues such as improving the standard of living
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

 of millions of impoverished, uneducated Africans; ecological issues such as dealing with recurring famines, desertification
Desertification
Desertification is the degradation of land in drylands. Caused by a variety of factors, such as climate change and human activities, desertification is one of the most significant global environmental problems.-Definitions:...

, and lack of ecological sustainability
Sustainability
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of union, an interdependent relationship and mutual responsible position with all living and non...

; as well as the legal
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 issues regarding Western Sahara.

Union Government

The principal topic for debate at the July 2007 AU summit held in Accra
Accra
Accra is the capital and largest city of Ghana, with an urban population of 1,658,937 according to the 2000 census. Accra is also the capital of the Greater Accra Region and of the Accra Metropolitan District, with which it is coterminous...

, Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

, was the creation of a Union Government, with the aim of moving towards a United States of Africa
United States of Africa
The United States of Africa is a proposed name for the concept of a federation of some or all of the 55 sovereign states of Africa.Former Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, who was the 2009 Chairperson of the African Union , advanced the idea of a United States of Africa at two regional African...

. A study on the Union Government was adopted in late 2006, and proposes various options for "completing" the African Union project. There are divisions among African states on the proposals, with some (notably Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

) following a maximalist view leading to a common government with an AU army; and others (especially the southern African states) supporting rather a strengthening of the existing structures, with some reforms to deal with administrative and political challenges in making the AU Commission and other bodies truly effective.

Following a heated debate in Accra, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government agreed in the form of a declaration to review the state of affairs of the AU with a view to determining its readiness towards a Union Government. In particular, the Assembly agreed to:
  • Accelerate the economic and political integration of the African continent, including the formation of a Union Government of Africa;
  • Conduct an audit of the institutions and organs of the AU; review the relationship between the AU and the RECs; find ways to strengthen the AU and elaborate a timeframe to establish a Union Government of Africa.


The declaration lastly noted the ‘importance of involving the African peoples, including Africans in the Diaspora, in the processes leading to the formation of the Union Government.’

Following this decision, a panel of eminent persons was set up to conduct the ‘audit review’. The review team began its work on 1 September 2007. The review was presented to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government at the January 2008 summit in Addis Ababa. No final decision was taken on the recommendations, however, and a committee of ten heads of state was appointed to consider the review and report back to the July 2008 summit to be held in Egypt. At the July 2008 summit, a decision was once again deferred, for a 'final' debate at the January 2009 summit to be held in Addis Ababa.

Role of Regional Economic Communities

One of the key debates in relation to the achievement of greater continental integration is the relative priority that should be given to integration of the continent as a unit in itself or to integration of the sub-regions. The 1980 Lagos Plan of Action for the Development of Africa and the 1991 treaty to establish the African Economic Community (also referred to as the Abuja Treaty), proposed the creation of Regional Economic Communities
Regional Economic Communities
The Regional Economic Communities in Africa group together individual countries in subregions for the purposes of achieving greater economic integration...

 (RECs) as the basis for African integration, with a timetable for regional and then continental integration to follow.

Currently, there are eight RECs recognised by the AU, each established under a separate regional treaty. They are:
  • the Arab Maghreb Union
    Arab Maghreb Union
    The Arab Maghreb Union is a trade agreement aiming for economic and some sort of future political unity in North Africa between the countries Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania...

     (UMA)
  • the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
    Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
    The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, is a free trade area with nineteen member states stretching from Libya to Zimbabwe. COMESA formed in December 1994, replacing a Preferential Trade Area which had existed since 1981...

     (COMESA)
  • the Community of Sahel-Saharan States
    Community of Sahel-Saharan States
    CEN-SAD or the Community of Sahel-Saharan States aims to create a free trade area...

     (CEN-SAD)
  • the East African Community
    East African Community
    The East African Community is an intergovernmental organisation comprising the five east African countries Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. Pierre Nkurunziza, the President of the Republic of Burundi, is the current Chairman of the East African Community. The EAC was originally...

     (EAC)
  • the Economic Community of Central African States
    Economic Community of Central African States
    The Economic Community of Central African States is an Economic Community of the African Union for promotion of regional economic co-operation in Central Africa...

     (ECCAS)
  • the Economic Community of West African States
    Economic Community of West African States
    The Economic Community of West African States is a regional group of fifteen West African countries. Founded on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, its mission is to promote economic integration across the region....

     (ECOWAS)
  • the Intergovernmental Authority on Development
    Intergovernmental Authority on Development
    The Intergovernmental Authority on Development is an eight-country regional development organization in East Africa. Its headquarters are located in Djibouti City....

     (IGAD)
  • the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)


The membership of many of the communities overlaps, and their rationalisation has been under discussion for several years – and formed the theme of the 2006 Banjul summit. At the July 2007 Accra summit the Assembly finally decided to adopt a Protocol on Relations between the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities. This protocol is intended to facilitate the harmonisation of policies and ensure compliance with the Abuja Treaty and Lagos Plan of Action time frames.

Selection of chair

In 2006, the AU decided to create a Committee "to consider the implementation of a rotation system between the regions" in relation to the presidency. Controversy arose at the 2006 summit when Sudan announced its candidacy for the AU's chairmanship, as a representative of the East African region. Several member states refused to support Sudan because of tensions over Darfur
Darfur
Darfur is a region in western Sudan. An independent sultanate for several hundred years, it was incorporated into Sudan by Anglo-Egyptian forces in 1916. The region is divided into three federal states: West Darfur, South Darfur, and North Darfur...

 (see also below). Sudan ultimately withdrew its candidacy and President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo , sometimes known locally as Congo-Brazzaville, is a state in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.The region was dominated by...

 was elected to a one-year term. At the January 2007 summit, Sassou-Nguesso was replaced by President John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana, despite another attempt by Sudan to gain the chair. 2007 was the 50th anniversary of Ghana's independence, a symbolic moment for the country to hold the chair of the AU—and to host the mid-year summit at which the proposed Union Government was also discussed. In January 2008, President Jakaya Kikwete
Jakaya Kikwete
Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete is the 4th and current President of the United Republic of Tanzania. Kikwete was born in Msoga, Bagamoyo District, Tanganyika in present day Tanzania...

 of Tanzania took over as chair, representing the East African region and thus apparently ending Sudan's attempt to become chair—at least till the rotation returns to East Africa. The current chair is Equatorial Guinea.

Zimbabwe

The political crisis in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the African continent, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia and a tip of Namibia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. Zimbabwe has three...

 has been debated both by the African Union and in particular by the Southern African Development Community
Southern African Development Community
The Southern African Development Community is an inter-governmental organization headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana. Its goal is to further socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 15 southern African states...

. At African Union level, the situation in Zimbabwe has been a controversial focus of discussions in the Executive Council of the activity reports of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights is a quasi-judicial body tasked with promoting and protecting human rights and collective rights throughout the African continent as well as interpreting the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and considering individual complaints of...

 in which human rights abuses in Zimbabwe have been a leading subject since the early 2000s. Zimbabwe formed a major focus of debate at the 11th AU Summit held in Sharm el Shaik, Egypt, in July 2008, with some states, including Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Botswana, Nigeria, Kenya and others backing strong action against Zimbabwe in light of the problematic second round presidential elections held in June. Among others, Raila Odinga
Raila Odinga
Raila Amollo Odinga , also popularly known to Kenyans as Agwambo, is a Kenyan politician, currently serving as the Prime Minister of Kenya in a coalition government. He has served as a Member of Parliament for Langata since 1992, was Minister of Energy from 2001 to 2002, and was Minister of Roads,...

, the Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 of Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, called for suspension of Robert Mugabe
Robert Mugabe
Robert Gabriel Mugabe is the President of Zimbabwe. As one of the leaders of the liberation movement against white-minority rule, he was elected into power in 1980...

 and Zimbabwe from the AU. However, the summit eventually adopted a resolution that did not apply any sanctions against the government of Robert Mugabe but merely urged the two main parties in Zimbabwe to negotiate a solution to their differences.

AIDS in Africa

One of the most serious issues to face Africa is not a dispute between nations, but rather the rapid spread of HIV
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 and the AIDS
AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

 pandemic
Pandemic
A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or even worldwide. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic...

. Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

, especially southern Africa, is by far the most affected area in the world, and the infection is now starting to claim lives by the millions. While the measurement of HIV prevalence rates has proved methodologically challenging, more than 20% of the sexually active population of many countries of southern Africa may be infected, with South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, Botswana
Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

, Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

, and Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the African continent, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia and a tip of Namibia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. Zimbabwe has three...

 all expected to have a decrease in life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 by an average of 6.5 years. The effects on South Africa, which constitutes 30% of the AU's economy, threatens to significantly stunt GDP growth, and thus internal and external trade for the continent.

Libya

The AU attempted to mediate in the early stages of the 2011 Libyan civil war
2011 Libyan civil war
The 2011 Libyan civil war was an armed conflict in the North African state of Libya, fought between forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and those seeking to oust his government. The war was preceded by protests in Benghazi beginning on 15 February 2011, which led to clashes with security...

, forming an ad hoc committee of five presidents (Congolese
Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo , sometimes known locally as Congo-Brazzaville, is a state in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.The region was dominated by...

 President Denis Sassou Nguesso
Denis Sassou Nguesso
Denis Sassou Nguesso is a Congolese politician who has been the President of Congo-Brazzaville since 1997; he was previously President from 1979 to 1992. During his first period as President, he headed the single-party regime of the Congolese Labour Party for 12 years...

, Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

an President Amadou Toumani Touré
Amadou Toumani Touré
Amadou Toumani Touré is the president of Mali. He overthrew a military ruler, Moussa Traoré in 1991, then handed power to civilian authorities the next year...

, Mauritania
Mauritania
Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

n President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz
Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz
General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz is a Mauritanian politician, currently serving as President of Mauritania...

, South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

n President Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is the President of South Africa, elected by parliament following his party's victory in the 2009 general election....

, and Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

n President Yoweri Museveni
Yoweri Museveni
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is a Ugandan politician and statesman. He has been President of Uganda since 26 January 1986.Museveni was involved in the war that deposed Idi Amin Dada, ending his rule in 1979, and in the rebellion that subsequently led to the demise of the Milton Obote regime in 1985...

) to broker a truce. However, the beginning of the NATO-led military intervention
2011 military intervention in Libya
On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the 2011 Libyan civil war...

 in March 2011 prevented the committee from traveling to Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 to meet with Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

n leader and former head of the AU until 2010 Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

. As a body, the AU sharply dissented from the United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

's decision to create a no-fly zone
No-fly zone
A no-fly zone is a territory or an area over which aircraft are not permitted to fly. Such zones are usually set up in a military context, somewhat like a demilitarized zone in the sky, and usually prohibit military aircraft of a belligerent nation from operating in the region.-Iraq,...

 over Libya, though a few member states, such as Botswana
Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

, Gabon
Gabon
Gabon , officially the Gabonese Republic is a state in west central Africa sharing borders with Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, and with the Republic of the Congo curving around the east and south. The Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean is to the west...

, Zambia
Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

, and others expressed support for the resolution
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, on the situation in Libya, is a measure that was adopted on 17 March 2011. The Security Council resolution was proposed by France, Lebanon, and the United Kingdom....

.

As a result of Gaddafi's defeat at the Battle of Tripoli, the decisive battle of the war, in August 2011, the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

 voted to recognise the anti-Gaddafi
Anti-Gaddafi forces
The anti-Gaddafi forces were Libyan groups that opposed and militarily defeated the government of Muammar Gaddafi, killing him in the process. These opposition forces included organised and armed militia groups, participants in the 2011 Libyan civil war, Libyan diplomats who switched their...

 National Transitional Council
National Transitional Council
The National Transitional Council of Libya , sometimes known as the Transitional National Council, the Interim National Council, or the Libyan National Council,...

 as the legitimate government of the country pending elections, but although the council has been recognised by several AU member states, including two countries that are also members of the Arab League, the AU Peace and Security Council
Peace and Security Council
The Peace and Security Council is the organ of the African Union in charge of enforcing union decisions. It is patterned somewhat after the United Nations Security Council....

 voted on 26 August 2011 not to recognise it, insisting that a ceasefire be agreed to and a national unity government be formed by both sides in the civil war. A number of AU member states led by Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

, and Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 requested that the AU recognise the NTC as Libya's interim governing authority, and several other AU member states have recognised the NTC regardless of the Peace and Security Council's decision. However, AU member states Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 and Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the African continent, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia and a tip of Namibia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. Zimbabwe has three...

 have indicated they will not recognise the NTC, and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 has expressed reservations as well.

On 20 September, the African Union officially recognised the National Transitional Council as the legitimate representative of Libya.

Togo

In response to the death of Gnassingbé Eyadéma
Gnassingbé Eyadéma
General Gnassingbé Eyadéma , was the President of Togo from 1967 until his death in 2005. He participated in two successful military coups, in January 1963 and January 1967, and became President on April 14, 1967...

, President of Togo
Togo
Togo, officially the Togolese Republic , is a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, on which the capital Lomé is located. Togo covers an area of approximately with a population of approximately...

, on 5 February 2005, AU leaders described the naming of his son Faure Gnassingbé
Faure Gnassingbé
Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé has been the President of Togo since May 4, 2005. A son of President Gnassingbé Eyadéma, he was appointed to the government by his father, serving as Minister of Equipment, Mines, Posts, and Telecommunications from 2003 to 2005...

 the successor as a military coup
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

. 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 sixty days. The AU's protest forced Gnassingbé to hold elections. Under heavy allegations of election fraud, he was officially elected President on 4 May 2005.

Mauritania

On 3 August 2005, a coup in Mauritania
Mauritania
Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

 led the African Union to suspend the country from all organisational activities. The Military Council that took control of Mauritania promised to hold elections within two years. These were held in early 2007, the first time that the country had held elections that were generally agreed to be of an acceptable standard. Following the elections, Mauritania's membership of the AU was restored. However, on 6 August 2008, a fresh coup overthrew the government elected in 2007. The AU once again suspended Mauritania from the continental body.

Regional conflicts and military interventions

One of the objectives of the AU is to "promote peace, security, and stability on the continent". Among its principles is 'Peaceful resolution of conflicts among Member States of the Union through such appropriate means as may be decided upon by the Assembly'. The primary body charged with implementing these objectives and principles is the Peace and Security Council. The PSC has the power, among other things, to authorise peace support missions, to impose sanctions in case of unconstitutional change of government, and to "take initiatives and action it deems appropriate" in response to potential or actual conflicts. The PSC is a decision-making body in its own right, and its decisions are binding on member states.

Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act, repeated in article 4 of the Protocol to the Constitutive Act on the PSC, also recognises the right of the Union to intervene in member state in circumstances of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Any decision to intervene in a member state under article 4 of the Constitutive Act will be made by the Assembly on the recommendation of the PSC.

Since it first met in 2004, the PSC has been active in relation to the crises in Darfur, Comoros, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire and other countries. It has adopted resolutions creating the AU peacekeeping operations in Somalia and Darfur, and imposing sanctions against persons undermining peace and security (such as travel bans and asset freezes against the leaders of the rebellion in Comoros). The Council is in the process of overseeing the establishment of a "standby force" to serve as a permanent African peacekeeping force.

Darfur, Sudan

In response to the ongoing Darfur conflict
Darfur conflict
The Darfur Conflict was a guerrilla conflict or civil war centered on the Darfur region of Sudan. It began in February 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and Justice and Equality Movement groups in Darfur took up arms, accusing the Sudanese government of oppressing non-Arab Sudanese in...

 in Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, the AU has deployed 7,000 peacekeepers, many from Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 and Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

, to Darfur
Darfur
Darfur is a region in western Sudan. An independent sultanate for several hundred years, it was incorporated into Sudan by Anglo-Egyptian forces in 1916. The region is divided into three federal states: West Darfur, South Darfur, and North Darfur...

. While a donor's conference in Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia...

 in 2005 helped raise funds to sustain the peacekeepers through that year and into 2006, in July 2006 the AU said it would pull out at the end of September when its mandate expires. Critics of the AU peacekeepers, including Dr. Eric Reeves
Eric Reeves
Dr. Eric Reeves is professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he teaches courses in Shakespeare, Milton, and the history of literary theory and the history of literacy....

, have said these forces are largely ineffective due to lack of funds, personnel, and expertise. Monitoring an area roughly the size of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 has made it even more difficult to sustain an effective mission. In June 2006, the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 appropriated US$173 million for the AU force. Some, such as the Genocide Intervention Network
Genocide Intervention Network
thumb|right|300px|Genocide Intervention Network logoThe Genocide Intervention Network is a non-profit organization that "envisions a world in which the global community is willing and able to protect civilians from genocide and mass atrocities...

, have called for United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 (UN) or NATO intervention to augment and/or replace the AU peacekeepers. The UN has considered deploying a force, though it would not likely enter the country until at least October 2007. The under-funded and badly equipped AU mission was set to expire on 31 December 2006 but was extended to 30 June 2007 and merged with the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur
United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur
The African Union – United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur is a joint African Union and United Nations peacekeeping mission formally approved by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1769 on July 31, 2007, to bring stability to the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan while peace talks on a...

 in October 2007. In July 2009 the African Union ceased cooperation with the International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

, refusing to recognize the international arrest warrant it had issued against Sudan's leader, Omar al-Bashir
Omar al-Bashir
Lieutenant General Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir is the current President of Sudan and the head of the National Congress Party. He came to power in 1989 when he, as a brigadier in the Sudanese army, led a group of officers in a bloodless military coup that ousted the government of Prime Minister...

, who was indicted in 2008 for War crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

s

Somalia

From the early 1990s up until recently, Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 was without a functioning central government. A peace agreement aimed at ending the civil war
Somali Civil War
The Somali Civil War is an ongoing civil war taking place in Somalia. The conflict, which began in 1991, has caused destabilisation throughout the country, with the current phase of the conflict seeing the Somali government losing substantial control of the state to rebel forces...

 that broke out following the collapse of the Siad Barre
Siad Barre
Mohamed Siad Barre was the military dictator and President of the Somali Democratic Republic from 1969 to 1991. During his rule, he styled himself as Jaalle Siyaad ....

 regime was signed in 2006 after many years of peace talks. However, the new government was almost immediately threatened by further violence. To temporarily shore up the government's military base, starting in March 2007, AU soldiers began arriving in Mogadishu
Mogadishu
Mogadishu , popularly known as Xamar, is the largest city in Somalia and the nation's capital. Located in the coastal Benadir region on the Indian Ocean, the city has served as an important port for centuries....

 as part of a peacekeeping force that was intended by the AU to eventually be 8,000 strong. Eritrea recalled its ambassadors to the African Union on 20 November 2009 after the African Union called on the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on them due to their alleged support of Somali Islamists attempting to topple the Transitional Federal Government
Transitional Federal Government
The Transitional Federal Government is the current internationally recognized government of the Republic of Somalia. It was established as one of the Transitional Federal Institutions of government as defined in the Transitional Federal Charter adopted in November 2004 by the Transitional...

 of Somalia, the internationally recognized government of Somalia which holds Somalia's seat on the African Union. On 22 December 2009, the Security Council passed UNSCR 1907
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1907
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1907, adopted on December 23, 2009, imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea, travel bans on its leaders, and froze the assets of some of the country's political and military officials as punishment for aiding anti-government rebels in Somalia and refusing to...

, which imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea, travel bans on Eritrean leaders, and asset freezes on Eritrean officials. Eritrea strongly criticised the resolution. In January 2011, Eritrea reestablished their mission to the AU in Addis Ababa.

Economy

The combined states of the African Union constitute a nominal GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 of $
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

1.627 trillion dollars. By measuring GDP by PPP
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

, the African Union's economy totals $2.849 trillion, ranking it 6th after Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

.

The AU future confederation's goals include the creation of a free trade area
Free trade area
A free trade area is a trade bloc whose member countries have signed a free trade agreement , which eliminates tariffs, import quotas, and preferences on most goods and services traded between them. If people are also free to move between the countries, in addition to FTA, it would also be...

, a customs union
Customs union
A customs union is a type of trade bloc which is composed of a free trade area with a common external tariff. The participant countries set up common external trade policy, but in some cases they use different import quotas...

, a single market
Single market
A single market is a type of trade bloc which is composed of a free trade area with common policies on product regulation, and freedom of movement of the factors of production and of enterprise and services. The goal is that the movement of capital, labour, goods, and services between the members...

, a central bank
Central bank
A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is a public institution that usually issues the currency, regulates the money supply, and controls the interest rates in a country. Central banks often also oversee the commercial banking system of their respective countries...

, and a common currency (see African Monetary Union
African Monetary Union
The African Monetary Union is the proposed creation of an economic and monetary union for the countries of the African Union, administered by the African Central Bank...

), thereby establishing economic and monetary union
Economic and monetary union
An economic and monetary union is a type of trade bloc which is composed of an economic union with a monetary union. It is to be distinguished from a mere monetary union , which does not involve a common market. This is the fifth stage of economic integration...

. The current plan is to establish an African Economic Community
African Economic Community
The African Economic Community is an organization of African Union states establishing grounds for mutual economic development among the majority of African states...

 with a single currency by 2023.

Languages

According to the Constitutive Act of the African Union, its working languages are Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, and Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

, and African languages
Languages of Africa
There are over 2100 and by some counts over 3000 languages spoken natively in Africa in several major language families:*Afro-Asiatic spread throughout the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and parts of the Sahel...

 "if possible". A protocol amending the Constitutive Act, adopted in 2003 but as of 2007 not yet in force, added Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

 and "any other African language" and termed all six "official" (rather than "working") languages of the African Union. In practice, translation of documents of the AU into the four current working languages which used to cause significant delays and difficulties to the conduct of business, has known a great leap forward since late 2007, when modern translation tools and working methods were introduced.

Founded in 2001 under the auspices of the AU, the African Academy of Languages
African Academy of Languages
The African Academy of Languages is a Pan-African organization founded in 2001 by Mali's then-president Alpha Oumar Konaré, under the auspices of the African Union, for the harmonization of Africa's many spoken languages...

 promotes the usage and perpetuation of African languages among African people. The AU declared 2006 the Year of African Languages.

Geography

Member states
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 of the African Union cover almost the entirety of continental Africa and several off-shore islands. Consequently, the geography of the African Union is wildly diverse, including the world's largest hot desert (the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

), huge jungles and savanna
Savanna
A savanna, or savannah, is a grassland ecosystem characterized by the trees being sufficiently small or widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of C4 grasses.Some...

s, and the world's longest river (the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

).

The AU presently has an area of 29,922,059 km² (18,592,705 mi²), with 24,165 km (15,015 mi) of coastline. The vast majority of this area is on continental Africa, while the only significant territory off the mainland is the island of Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

 (the world's fourth largest), accounting for slightly less than 2% of the total.

Foreign relations

The individual member states of the African Union coordinate foreign policy through this agency, in addition to conducting their own international relations
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

 on a state-by-state basis. The AU represents the interests of African peoples at large in intergovernmental organisations (IGOs); for instance, it is a permanent observer
United Nations General Assembly observers
In addition to the current 193 member states, the United Nations welcomes many international organizations, entities, and non-member states as observers. Observer status is granted by a United Nations General Assembly resolution...

 at the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

. Both the African Union and the United Nations work in tandem to address issues of common concerns in various areas. The African Union Mission in United Nations aspires to serve as a bridge between the two Organisations.

Membership of the AU overlaps with other IGOs and occasionally these third-party organisations and the AU will coordinate matters of public policy. The African Union maintains special diplomatic representation with the United States
Ambassadors from the United States
This is a list of ambassadors of the United States to individual nations of the world, to international organizations, to past nations, and ambassadors-at-large.Ambassadors are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate...

 and the European Union
European Union Special Representative
The European Union Special Representatives are emissaries of the European Union with specific tasks abroad. While the EU's ambassadors are responsible for affairs with a single country, Special Representatives tackle specific issues, conflict areas or regions of countries...

.

History

The historical foundations of the African Union originated in the Union of African States
Union of African States
The Union of African States, was a short lasting union of first two, then three African states in West Africa, in the 1960s. These states were Ghana, Guinea, and Mali...

, an early confederation
Confederation
A confederation in modern political terms is a permanent union of political units for common action in relation to other units. Usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution, confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues such as defense, foreign...

 that was established by Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah was the leader of Ghana and its predecessor state, the Gold Coast, from 1952 to 1966. Overseeing the nation's independence from British colonial rule in 1957, Nkrumah was the first President of Ghana and the first Prime Minister of Ghana...

 in the 1960s, as well as subsequent attempts to unite Africa, including the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was established on 25 May 1963, and the African Economic Community
African Economic Community
The African Economic Community is an organization of African Union states establishing grounds for mutual economic development among the majority of African states...

 in 1981. Critics argued that the OAU in particular 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 creating the AU was revived in the mid-1990s under the leadership of Libyan head of state Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

: the heads of state and government of the OAU issued the Sirte Declaration
Sirte Declaration
The Sirte Declaration was the resolution adopted by the Organisation of African Unity on 9 September 1999, at the fourth Extraordinary Session of the OAU Assembly of African Heads of State and Government held at Sirte, Libya...

 (named after Sirte, in Libya) on 9 September 1999, calling for the establishment of an African Union. The Declaration was followed by summits at Lomé
Lomé
Lomé, with an estimated population of 737,751, is the capital and largest city of Togo. Located on the Gulf of Guinea, Lomé is the country's administrative and industrial center and its chief port. The city exports coffee, cocoa, copra, and palm kernels...

 in 2000, when the Constitutive Act of the African Union
Constitutive Act of the African Union
The Constitutive Act of the African Union sets out the codified framework under which the African Union is to conduct itself. It was signed on 11 July 2000 at Lomé, Togo.-See also:*Sirte Declaration, 9 September 1999, resolving to create the African Union....

 was adopted, and at Lusaka
Lusaka
Lusaka is the capital and largest city of Zambia. It is located in the southern part of the central plateau, at an elevation of about 1,300 metres . It has a population of about 1.7 million . It is a commercial centre as well as the centre of government, and the four main highways of Zambia head...

 in 2001, when the plan for the implementation of the African Union was adopted. During the same period, the initiative for the establishment of the New Partnership for Africa's Development
New Partnership for Africa's Development
The New Partnership for Africa's Development is an economic development program of the African Union. NEPAD was adopted at the 37th session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in July 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia...

 (NEPAD), was also established.

The African Union was launched in Durban
Durban
Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in South Africa. It forms part of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism...

 on 9 July 2002, by its first chairperson, South African Thabo Mbeki
Thabo Mbeki
Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki is a South African politician who served two terms as the second post-apartheid President of South Africa from 14 June 1999 to 24 September 2008. He is also the brother of Moeletsi Mbeki...

, at the first session of the Assembly of the African Union. The second session of the Assembly was in Maputo
Maputo
Maputo, also known as Lourenço Marques, is the capital and largest city of Mozambique. It is known as the City of Acacias in reference to acacia trees commonly found along its avenues and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. It was famous for the inscription "This is Portugal" on the walkway of its...

 in 2003, and the third session in Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia...

 on 6 July 2004.

Symbols

The emblem of the African Union
Emblem of the African Union
The emblem of the African Union features a golden, boundary-less map of Africa inside two concentric circles, with stylised palm leaves shooting up on either side of the outer circle....

 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 African Union adopted its new flag at its 14th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government taking place in Addis Ababa 2010. During the 8th African Union Summit which took place in Addis Ababa on 29 and 30 January 2007, the Heads of State and Government decided to launch a competition for the selection of a new flag for the Union. They prescribed a green background for the flag symbolising hope of Africa and stars to represent Member States.

Pursuant to this decision, the African Union Commission (AUC) organized a competition for the selection of a new flag for the African Union. The AUC received a total of 106 entries proposed by citizens of 19 African countries and 2 from the Diaspora. The proposals were then examined by a panel of experts put in place by the African Union Commission and selected from the five African regions for short listing according to the main directions given by the Heads of State and Government.

At the 13th Ordinary Session of the Assembly, the Heads of State and Government examined the report of the Panel and selected one among all the proposals. The flag is now part of the paraphernalia of the African Union and replaces the old one.

The old flag of the African Union
Flag of the African Union
The current flag of the African Union was adopted at its 14th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government taking place in Addis Ababa on 31 January 2010....

 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 flag has led to the creation of the "national colours
National colours
National colours are frequently part of a country's set of national symbols.Many states and nations have formally adopted a set of colours as their official "national colours" while others have de facto national colours that have become well-known through popular use...

" of Africa of gold and green (sometimes together with white). These colours are visible in one way or another in the flags of many African nations. Together the colours green, gold, and red constitute the Pan-African colours
Pan-African colours
Two different sets of three colours are referred to as the Pan-African colours: the red, green and gold first used in the flag of Ethiopia and Eritrea before the countries broke apart; and the red, green and black adopted by the American-based Universal Negro Improvement Association and African...

.

The African Union has adopted a new anthem, Let Us All Unite and Celebrate Together
Let Us All Unite and Celebrate Together
-Lyrics:-Lyrics::English Version-Lyrics::English Version:Let us all unite and celebrate together:The victories won for our liberation:Let us dedicate ourselves to rise 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.

List of Chairmen

Chairpersons of the African Union
Name Beginning of term End of term Country
Thabo Mbeki
Thabo Mbeki
Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki is a South African politician who served two terms as the second post-apartheid President of South Africa from 14 June 1999 to 24 September 2008. He is also the brother of Moeletsi Mbeki...

9 July 2002 10 July 2003  South Africa
Joaquim Chissano
Joaquim Chissano
Joaquim Alberto Chissano served as the second President of Mozambique for nineteen years from 6 November 1986 until 2 February 2005. Since stepping down as president, Chissano has become an elder statesman and is called upon by international bodies, such as the United Nations, to be an envoy or...

10 July 2003 6 July 2004  Mozambique
Olusegun Obasanjo 6 July 2004 24 January 2006  Nigeria
Denis Sassou-Nguesso 24 January 2006 24 January 2007  Republic of the Congo
John Kufuor
John Kufuor
John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor was the second president of the 4th Republic of Ghana and Chairperson of the African Union...

30 January 2007 31 January 2008  Ghana
Jakaya Kikwete
Jakaya Kikwete
Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete is the 4th and current President of the United Republic of Tanzania. Kikwete was born in Msoga, Bagamoyo District, Tanganyika in present day Tanzania...

31 January 2008 2 February 2009  Tanzania
Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

2 February 2009 31 January 2010 Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

Bingu wa Mutharika
Bingu wa Mutharika
Bingu wa Mutharika is a Malawi economist who is President of Malawi. He took office on 24 May 2004 after winning a disputed presidential election...

 
31 January 2010 31 January 2011  Malawi
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is an Equatoguinean politician who has been President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979. He ousted his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, in an August 1979 military coup and has overseen Equatorial Guinea's emergence as an important oil producer, beginning in the 1990s...

 
31 January 2011 Incumbent  Equatorial Guinea

See also

External links



Other relevant sites
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