African Union

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African Union
Flag of the African Union, formerly used by the OAU Emblem of the African Union
(In Detail) (In Detail)
Anthem: Let us all unite and celebrate together
Location of the African Union
Official languages The African languages, as well as Arabic, English, French and Portuguese

Some member states have other official languages.

Chairman of the African Union Olusegun Obasanjo
Chairman of the Commission Alpha Oumar Konaré

 - Total

Ranked 1st1

29,797,500 km2


 - Total (2005)
 - Density

Ranked 3rd1

850 millon
25.7 people/km²

GDP (2003)

 - Total
 - Total
 - GDP/head
 - GDP/head

Ranked 16th1

  US$1.515 trillion (PPP)
  $0.514 trillion (Nominal)
  $1,896 (PPP)
  $643 (Nominal)


 - As OAU
 - As AU


May 25, 1963
July 9, 2002

Currencies Each member state has its own currency.
Time zone UTC -1 to UTC +4
Internet TLD Each member state has its own top-level domain.
Calling Codes Each member state has its own calling code beginning with +2.
Note 1: If counted as a single country

The African Union (abbreviated AU), founded in July 2002, is the successor organisation to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Modelled after the European Union (but currently with powers closer to the Commonwealth of Nations), its aims are to help promote democracy, human rights and development across Africa, especially by increasing foreign investment through the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) program. Its first chairman was South African president Thabo Mbeki. The AU covers the entire continent except for Morocco.



Goals for the African Union include an African parliament and a central development bank. As with its predecessor, the OAU, the African Union is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Pan-African Parliament opened officially March 18, 2004, in Midrand, South Africa.

The current Chairman of the Commission, H.E. Alpha Oumar Konaré, leads the African Union.

Because of the membership of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Morroco chooses not be a member.

The AU's first military intervention in a member state was the May 2003 deployment of a peacekeeping force of soldiers from South Africa, Ethiopia and Mozambique to Burundi to oversee the implementation of the various agreements. The mission was known as AMIB and has since been taken over by the United Nations, which has designated it ONUB.

Current issues

The AU faces many problems, from the HIV epidemic and poverty to many civil wars, as well as the still unfinished decolonization of Western Sahara (admitted to the AU as Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic).

In response to the ongoing Darfur crisis in the Sudan, the AU has deployed 300 soldiers, mostly from Rwanda, to Darfur to protect the AU observers. As of 2004, it is considering the deployment of up to 2,500 peacekeepers to the region. In 2005 there was a donor's conference held in the African Union's headquarters in Addis Ababa where enough money was raised that it is believed there will be enough money to raise AU troop levels to 7,000 in September and to 12,000 in the beginning of 2006.

In response to the death of Gnassingbé Eyadéma, president of Togo, on February 5, 2005, AU leaders described the naming of his son Faure Gnassingbé the successor as a military coup [1]. Togo's constitution calls for the speaker of parliament to succeed the president in the event of his death. By law, the parliament speaker must call national elections to choose a new president within 60 days.

As of 2005, current conflicts also include the:

Origins and history

The African Union originated in the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was established on May 25, 1963.

The idea of an African Union began with the vision of a "United States of Africa" of controversial Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, who, frustrated by developments in the Arab world, has in recent years largely given up his long-held ideologies of Arab nationalism and Pan-Arabism, even publicly forsaking identity as an Arab.The heads of state and heads of government of the OAU issued the Sirte Declaration on September 9, 1999, calling for the establishment of an African Union. The Sirte Declaration was followed by summits at Lomé in 2000, when the Constitutive Act of the African Union was adopted, and at Lusaka in 2001, when the plan for the implementation of the African Union was adopted.

The African Union was launched in Durban on July 9, 2002, by its first president, South African Thabo Mbeki, at the first session of the Assembly of the African Union. The second session of the Assembly was in Maputo in 2003, and the third session in Addis Ababa on July 6, 2004. On August 3, 2005 a coup transpired in Mauritania that led the African Union to suspend the country from all organizational activites.


The African Union has 53 members, covering almost all of the continent of Africa. (Morocco is not a member [2]).

Map of the African Union. All African countries are member-states, with the exception of Morocco.
Map of the African Union. All African countries are member-states, with the exception of Morocco.

Dependency Members: Reunion Island, Mayotte, Saint Helena


The Current Chairman of the African Union is Olusegun Obasanjo, and the Commission Chairman is Alpha Oumar Konaré.

Even though the African Union is officially modelled on the European Union, it looks more like a mix of EU, the Council of Europe and the United Nations. It has a number of official bodies:

Financial institutions:

Comparison with other blocs/countries

Entity Area
Population GDP (PPP)
millions of $US
per capita

EU 3,977,487 456,285,839 11,064,752 24,249 25
ASEAN 4,400,000 553,900,000 2,172,000 4,044 10
CSN 17,715,335 366,669,975 2,635,349 7,187 12
NAFTA 21,588,638 430,495,039 12,889,900 29,942 3
AU 29,797,500 850,000,000 1,515,000 1,896 53
India 3,287,590 1,102,600,000 3,433,000 3,100 35
China 9,596,960 1,306,847,624 7,249,000 5,200 33
USA1 9,631,418 296,900,571 11,190,000 39,100 50
Canada1 9,984,670 32,507,874 958,700 29,800 13
Russia 17,075,200 143,782,338 1,282,000 8,900 89

During 2003. Cyan for largest value, green for smallest, among the blocs compared.
Source: CIA World Factbook 2004, IMF WEO Database
1 Member of NAFTA


Main article: Economy of Africa

The member states' efforts to collaborate economically are impeded by the civil wars raging in several parts of Africa. The African Union provides greater powers to govern African economies. The states goals include the creation of free trade areas, a central bank in 2020 and a common currency in 2021.


The African Union promotes the use of African languages wherever possible in its official work. Its other working languages are Arabic, English, French and Portuguese, although other languages are used officially by some member states. For example, Spanish is co-official with French in Equatorial Guinea. Supplemental protocols to the African Union have made Swahili an official language of the African Union.


The emblem of the African Union consists of a gold ribbon bearing small interlocking red rings, from which palm leaves shoot up around an outer gold circle and an inner green circle, within which is a gold representation of Africa. The red interlinked rings stand for African solidarity and the blood shed for the liberation of Africa; the palm leaves, for peace; the gold, for Africa's wealth and bright future; the green, for African hopes and aspirations. To symbolise African unity, the silhouette of Africa is drawn without internal borders.

The flag of the African Union bears a broad green horizontal stripe, a narrow band of gold, the emblem of the African Union at the centre of a broad white stripe, another narrow gold band and a final broad green stripe. Again, the green and gold symbolise Africa's hopes and aspirations as well as its wealth and bright future, and the white represents the purity of Africa's desire for friends throughout the world.

The African Union has adopted a new anthem, which begins Let us all unite and celebrate together, and has the chorus O sons and daughters of Africa, flesh of the sun and flesh of the sky, Let us make Africa the tree of life.


External links

African Union - BBC, last updated 29 December 2004

LookSmart - African Union directory category Open Directory Project - African Union directory category Yahoo - African Union directory category

Member countries of the African Union
Flag of the African Union

Algeria | Angola | Benin | Botswana | Burkina Faso | Burundi | Cameroon | Cape Verde | Central African Republic | Chad | Comoros | Democratic Republic of Congo | Republic of the Congo | Côte d'Ivoire | Djibouti | Egypt | Eritrea | Ethiopia | Equatorial Guinea | Gabon | The Gambia | Ghana | Guinea | Guinea-Bissau | Kenya | Lesotho | Liberia | Libya | Madagascar | Malawi | Mali | Mauritania | Mauritius | Mozambique | Namibia | Niger | Nigeria | Rwanda | São Tomé and Príncipe | Senegal | Seychelles | Sierra Leone | Somalia | South Africa | Sudan | Swaziland | Tanzania | Togo | Tunisia | Uganda | Western Sahara | Zambia | Zimbabwe

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