African Union 

African Union 

This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “African Union”. This topic has relevance in the “International Relations” section of the UPSC CSE exam.

For Prelims:

What is the African Union?

For Mains:

GS2:  International Relations


Why in the news?

The African Union became a member of the G-20 on September 9th at the G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Summit, just three months after India proposed it.


African Union (AU)

  • The African Union (AU) is a regional organisation comprising 55 African member states.
  • It was established on July 9, 2002, as the successor to the Organization of African Unity (OAU), founded in 1963. 
  • The AU aims to foster “an Integrated, Prosperous, and Peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens.
  • The African Union’s administrative body, the African Union Commission, is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 
  • Collectively, the member states of the AU boast a gross domestic product (GDP) of $3 trillion and a population of approximately 1.4 billion people.

Historical Context

  • In May 1963, 32 Heads of independent African States gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to sign the Charter establishing the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
  • Pan-African Vision
    • The OAU embodied the pan-African vision of a united, liberated, and self-determined Africa, as articulated in its Charter.
    • The founding fathers of OAU recognised freedom, equality, justice, and dignity as essential objectives for African aspirations.
    • There was an emphasis on fostering cooperation among African states and understanding among Africa’s peoples.
  • Objectives of the OAU
    • Eradicating the remnants of colonisation and apartheid.
    • Fostering unity and solidarity among African nations.
    • Coordinating development efforts.
    • Safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity.
    • Promoting international cooperation.
  • Effective Forum for African Unity
    • The OAU served as a platform for African nations to unify their positions on global issues.
    • It enabled them to defend Africa’s interests in international fora effectively.
  • Transition to the African Union (1999)
    • On September 9, 1999, the OAU’s Heads of State and Government issued the Sirte Declaration.
    • This called for establishing the African Union to accelerate integration, address multifaceted challenges, and enable Africa to assert its global role.


Objectives of the African Union (AU):

  • Promoting stronger unity and solidarity among African nations and their populations.
  • Accelerating political and socio-economic integration of the continent.
  • Addressing multifaceted social, economic, and political challenges in African nations.
  • Advocating for peace, stability, and security in the region.
  • Protecting and advancing human rights.


Achievements of the African Union (AU):

  • Successful Peacekeeping: 
    • The AU effectively deploys peacekeeping missions against terrorism in various regions, including the Sahel and northern Mozambique. 
    • It has prevented violence in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Darfur, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Mali.
  • Diplomatic Conflict Resolution:
    • The AU’s diplomatic efforts resolved conflicts, such as brokering a peace deal between the Ethiopian Government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in South Africa.
  • African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
    • The AU established the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in 2021, the world’s largest new free trade area since the WTO’s creation in 1994. 
    • AfCFTA aims to increase intra-African trade, potentially boosting Africa’s income by $450 billion by 2035 and raising intra-African exports by over 81%, per World Bank estimates.


Shortcomings of the AU:

  • Ineffective Response to Coups
    • The AU has struggled to prevent coups in Africa, with over 200 coups occurring on the continent since the 1960s. 
    • The organisation typically relies on diplomatic pressure, such as suspending membership, rather than military intervention to address these situations.
  • Financial Dependency: 
    • The AU faces challenges getting member countries to pay their annual dues, leading to financial instability. 
    • It often relies on external funding, impacting its autonomy and effectiveness.


Potential Outcomes of AU’s G20 Inclusion:

  • Global Trade and Finance Redesign:
    • The AU’s permanent seat in the G20 provides an opportunity to advocate for a global trade, finance, and investment architecture that benefits the world. 
    • This position allows the AU to demand a redesign of these systems, potentially leading to more equitable outcomes.
  • Voice and Visibility: 
    • Inclusion in the G20 gives African interests and perspectives a platform for voice and visibility on the global stage. 
    • This can empower the AU to represent African concerns and contribute to global discussions effectively.


Sources: G20 becomes G21 as India takes lead in bringing African Union to global table | India News – The Indian Express 

Yojna daily current affairs eng med 12th Sep 2023


Q1. With reference to African Union, consider the following statements: 

  1. The African Union (AU) is a regional organisation comprising 55 African member states.
  2. India is an observer state in the African Union. 
  3. The African Union was established in 1963 to eliminate the colonialism and apartheid.

Which of the statements given above is/are NOT correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only 

(d) None 

Answer: (b) 


Q2. Consider the following:

  1. The African Union Commission is headquartered in Pretoria, South Africa. 
  2. The Sirte Declaration called for establishing the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), a precursor to the African Union.
  3. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is the world’s largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

How many of the abovementioned statements are correct?

(a) Only one 

(b) Only two 

(c) All three 

(d) None

Answer: (d)

Q3. Analyse the implications of the African Union’s inclusion in the G20 for Africa’s representation and influence on the global stage. 

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