By Nneka Akwu
The African Union (AU) is an international organization that was officially established in Durban, South Africa, on July 9, 2002, as a replacement for the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which was founded in 1963 and disintegrated in 2002. At the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the 20th-anniversary celebrations were marked by various events and activities, including a virtual summit held in February 2021, a launch of the AU passport, and the unveiling of a statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela, a symbol of African unity and freedom. The African Union (AU) comprises 54 independent states in Africa and Western Sahara and its goals include good governance, interstate solidarity, peace, fostering regional integration, and strengthening the voice of Africa in the international arena. One of the most significant achievements of the African Union is the promotion of peace and security on the continent by establishing various peacekeeping missions in countries such as Somalia, Sudan, and the Central African Republic, to mention but a few. Over the years, the AU has also played a vital role in addressing the challenges facing the African continent such as poverty, conflict, underdevelopment, promoting democracy, human rights, and good governance across the continent. However, since the event of the African Union’s 20th anniversary, it is important to take record of its accomplishments (successes), recognise the challenges encountered and make insightful conclusions (valuable lessons) for the years to come.
The successes of the African Union, challenges and lessons learned over the previous two decades are addressed below:
The Lessons Learned
In conclusion, the AU has made significant progress over the past 20 years in advancing African integration and development, promoting peace, security and prosperity on the continent. However, there is still much work to be done. The organization must continue to address funding and governance challenges and work collaboratively with regional organizations and other stakeholders to achieve its objectives.
Dr. Nneka Akwu is a postdoctoral researcher at the North-West University, South Africa. She writes in her personal capacity.