The African Union and its sub-regional structures

12 Dec 2012

After seven decades of episodic existence through conferences, the Pan-African project became permanently institutionalised with the founding of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963, with a qualitative upgrade into the African Union in 2002. Much academic literature on African integration and the OAU-AU is pessimistic. Most media commentary is dismissive of the AU, and derogatory of the Pan-African Parliament. This article seeks to trace the on-going evolution of the OAU-AU, and enquire how the AU stands up to contemporary regional organisations. This makes it focus on operationalised ground truth, rather than entities which exist mostly on paper. The African Union and its regional communities have achieved significantly more - and attempted vastly more - than a score of contemporaries such as the Organisation of American States, the League of Arab States, the Association of South-East Asian Nations, and the Southern Common Market. Among regional communities, the African Union is arguably second in accomplishments to only the European Union, which has a three orders of magnitude larger budget and personnel establishment. The African Union's operations focus on peace-making, while its institution-building focuses on economic integration and development.