African Union

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

African Union

African Union (AU), international organization established in 2002 by the nations of the former Organization of African Unity (OAU). The AU is the successor organization to the OAU, with greater powers to promote African economic, social, and political integration, and a stronger commmitment to democratic principles. There are 54 member nations; the only African country that is not a member is Morocco. The AU's headquarters are at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The AU's bodies include the Assembly of the AU, the Pan-African Parliament, the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, the AU Commission (its secretariat), the African Central Bank, African Monetary Fund, and other organs and agencies.

The Constitutive Act of the AU was adopted at Lomé, Togo, in 2000, the act was ratified in 2001, and in July the OAU held its last summit as the AU came into existence. The OAU continued to function, however, during a yearlong transition period, until the first official summit of the AU was held in July, 2002. The Pan-African Parliament, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, was inaugurated in 2004, initially as a purely advisory body. The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), established in 2001 by the OAU as a program to promote African development, was fully integrated into the AU in 2010 when its secretariat became the AU's NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency. The AU has authorized a number of peacekeeping and joint military forces to reduce instability and counter security threats in member nations.

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