What Do We Know About AU (African Union)?
The African Union (AU) consists of the 55 member states that make up the African continent’s countries.
- In 1963, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was founded by the independent states of Africa. The aim was to promote cooperation between African states.
- The Organization of African Unity adopted the 1980 Lagos Plan of Action. The plan advocated for Africa to reduce its reliance on the West by promoting intra-African trade.
- The Organization of African Unity was succeeded by the African Union in 2002, with one of its goals being to accelerate the continent’s “economic integration.”
Achievements of the African Union
- African Continental Free Trade Area: The goal is to gradually reduce tariffs, eliminate non-tariff barriers, improve supply chains, and resolve disputes. Increased trade will create jobs, improve Africa’s global competitiveness and social welfare, and position Africa for further industrialization.
- Diplomatic Achievement: The African Union has established a permanent mission in Beijing, China, to strengthen economic, commercial, and cultural ties with the continent’s largest trading partner.
- Women’s Economic Financial Inclusion: Africa has witnessed an increase in women’s participation in political decision-making processes and celebrated the first African Women’s Decade (AWD) on Grassroots Approach to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment 2010-2020.
What are the African Union’s current challenges?
- Africa has seen a troubling resurgence of military coups and leaders clinging to power through unconstitutional means. Since 2013, there have been at least 32 coups and coup attempts. Five of the seven coup attempts since 2020 have been successful.
- Pro-democracy protesters were violently suppressed by coup leaders in five countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali, and Sudan.
- Over 100 people have died as a result of the suppression of anti-coup protests in Sudan, for example. Food insecurity threatens over 18 million Sudanese.
- Disregard for the Rule of Law:
- A growing number of democratically elected and legitimate governments are cracking down on civil society organizations.
- Governments are squeezing out institutions that should hold them accountable, and the media is being silenced.
- They arrest activists and pass laws that limit the activities of civil society organizations.
- Africa has yet to receive at least two permanent seats on the UN Security Council. Despite the fact that Africa accounts for more than two-thirds of the council’s agenda, the continent lacks permanent representation.
Opportunities in having relations with Africa
- Addressing Food Security: Food security and agriculture can also serve as a platform for stronger ties. Africa has a large proportion of the world’s arable land but produces a very small proportion of global agricultural output.
- Combating Neocolonialism: China has pursued Chequebook and donation diplomacy in Africa. Chinese investment, on the other hand, is viewed as neocolonial in nature because it focuses on political influence, money, hard-infrastructure projects, and resource extraction.
- Economic Opportunities: In recent years, several global economic players have increased their engagement with African states, primarily in the energy, mining, infrastructure, and connectivity sectors.
What to do?
- The AU should take firm action against member states that undermine the rule of law within their borders.
- The rule of law is critical for long-term and inclusive economic growth, sustainable development, and the abolition of poverty and hunger.
- The rule of law promotes the growth of people, businesses, and commerce.
- African leaders must address the issues that military leaders use to justify coups in African countries, namely corruption, misrule, and insecurity. Solving these issues would remove the military’s justification for interfering in civilian affairs.
- States should use their natural resources to grow their economies and empower citizens rather than cracking down on citizens and civil society. Africa’s global standing will improve as a result of its collective economic strength.
- In dealing with constitutional violations, the AU must also be firm and consistent. Recent examples demonstrate that perpetrators simply refuse to comply with calls to restore constitutional order.