The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was formed on May 25, 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Thirty independent African states attended the inaugural meeting. The organisation was founded by 32 countries, a further 21 countries have joined gradually over the years, with South Africa becoming the 53rd member on 23 May 1994.
The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was disbanded on 9 July 2002 by its last chairperson, South African President Thabo Mbeki, and replaced by the African Union (AU).
Aims and Objectives of Organisation of African Unity (OAU)
- To promote the unity and solidarity of African States.
- To ensure good living standard for the people.
- To work towards the eradication of all forms of colonialism from Africa.
- Promotion of international co-operation and peace.
- To have a united front on issues of global importance.
- To defend sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of African states.
- To co-ordinate and harmonise members’ political, economic, educational, cultural, scientific and defence policies.
- To ensure that all Africans enjoy fundamental human rights.
Principles of Organisation of African Unity
- All member states are sovereign; none should be under the control of any other state.
- They agreed that all disputes among member states should be settled peacefully.
- No state is allowed to dominate another.
- No member state has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of other member states.
- Member states should have faith in the policy of non-alignment.
- Absolute dedication to the total emancipation of the African territories which are still dependent.
- There should be respect for the territorial integrity and independence of each state.
Organs of The Organisation of African Unity
The Assembly – Composed of Heads of State and Government or their duly accredited representatives. The Assembly of Heads of State and Government is the supreme organ of the Union.
The Executive Council – Composed of Ministers or Authorities designated by the Governments of Members States. The Executive Council is responsible to the Assembly.
The Permanent Representatives’ Committee – Composed of Permanent Representatives of Member States accredited to the Union. The Permanent Representatives Committee is charged with the responsibility of preparing the work of the Executive Council.
The Court of Justice – A Court of Justice of the Union shall be established. The statutes defining the composition and functions of the Court of Justice have been prepared and will be submitted to the Assembly in Maputo.
Peace and Security Council (PSC) – By decision AHG/Dec 160 (xxxvii) of the Summit of Lusaka, July 2001, a decision was made for the creation within the African Union of the Peace and Security Council. The Protocol establishing the PSC is in the process of ratification.
Pan-African Parliament – A Pan-African Parliament, and organ to ensure the full participation of African peoples in governance, development and economic integration of the Continent. The protocol relating to the composition, powers, functions and organization of the Pan-African Parliament has been signed by Member States and is in the process of ratification.
ECOSOCC – The Economic, Social and Cultural Council. This is an advisory organ composed of different social and professional groups of the Member States of the Union. The statutes determining the functions, powers, composition and organization of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council have been prepared and will be submitted to Maputo Summit.
Achievements of Organisation of African Unity
- The organisation served as a forum for African leaders to discuss African affairs.
- The organisation has allowed the African states to take a united stand at the UNO.
- It contributed to the settlement of disputes among African states.
- It encouraged regional and economic co-operation.
- It promoted world peace.
- OAU helped in the eradication of apartheid.
- It sustained socio-economic development of member states of the organisation.
Problems of the Organisation of African Unity
- Due to frequent changes of government, many African states are politically unstable.
- Some member states of the organization still owe allegiance to their former colonial masters.
- OAU as an organisation has no standing army.
- Decisions of the organisation may not be binding on the members.
- Most of the countries are poor which made their economies dependent on foreign powers.
- There is shortage of fund for member states to run their daily activities.
- There is border conflict among member states.