The Organization of African Unity (OAU) was established in 1963 for the liberation from colonialism and realizing stability, in addition to security and development in the African continent and coordination among the African countries on African issues. The OAU later evolved to the African Union. Its objectives were adapted to the new hopes and aspirations of the African peoples and countries and became highly focused on achieving economic integration and regional integration. Thus the need to review the functions and structure of the organization, and the Constitutive Act of the African Union was adopted at the Lomé Summit in Togo in 2000.
The African Union was formally established in July 2002; all African countries (55 countries) are currently members of the Union after the return of Morocco during the Addis Ababa Summit in January 2017. The last country that joined the African Union before that is South Sudan in July 2011.
At the current stage, the African Union’s main concern is to achieve comprehensive sustainable development for the continent’s countries by implementing the “Development Agenda 2063”, as well as maintaining peace and security in the continent by activating the African peace and security structure, and achieving good governance and peaceful transfer of power in the Continent through the application of the relevant AU principles and documents.
The African Union Ordinary Summit is held in January / February each year, in addition to the coordination meeting between the African Union Bureau and the heads of the African Regional Economic Communities. The Heads of State of African countries alternate each year on the rotating chairmanship of the Union among the five geographical regions of the continent.
The African Union organs:
1- AU Assembly (Summit level):
The highest authority in the Union; composed of the Heads of State or Government or their representatives, and convenes at least twice a year.
The Head of the State or Government shall chair over the Assembly after consultations among Member States for one year, alternating between the five African regions (North / Central / West / East / South). A main theme is defined for each Summit.
2- Executive Council (EC):
Consists of the Foreign Ministers or any ministers nominated by their governments.
It normally convenes twice a year in two ordinary sessions, and in extraordinary sessions at the request of a Member State and with the approval of two thirds of the members. The quorum for its meetings shall be two-thirds of the members.
3- Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC):
It is composed of the ambassadors or the permanent delegates accredited to the Union. It is entrusted with the preparation for the work of the Executive Council, and acts according to its instructions, and may form subcommittees or working groups when necessary.
4- Pan-African Parliament (PAP):
The Constitutive Act of the African Union provides for the establishment of the Pan-African Parliament as one of the African Union organs to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the development and integration of the continent.
5- African Union Commission (AUC):
The Commission is the Secretariat of the Union and is composed of a Chairperson, a Deputy Chairperson, and eight Commissioners entrusted with issues related to peace and security, political affairs, infrastructure and energy, social affairs, human resources, science and technology, trade and industry, rural economy and agriculture, and economic affairs. The members of the Commission are elected Terms are for four years, renewable once.
The current AU Commission is chaired by H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chad, and was elected during the Addis Ababa Summit (January 2017). It is the fourth body to chair the AU Commission since its inception. It also includes Dr. Amani Abu Zeid as the Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy.
6- Specialized Technical Committees (STCs):
14 Committees, most notably, the Committee for Defense, Safety and Security, the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, the Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic planning and Integration, the Committee on Transport, Transcontinental and Interregional Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism.
The objective of the specialized committees is to reduce the number of ministerial meetings by merging a number of ministerial meetings into a specialized technical committee.
7- The Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC):
ECOSOCC is aimed at supporting and encouraging dialogue among the African peoples, as well as guiding them on the various vital issues and ensuring their active participation in the implementation and evaluation of the AU programs.
8- Financial Institutions:
Include the African Monetary Fund, the African Investment Bank (Libya) and the Central African Bank (Nigeria).
9- Judiciary and human rights institutions:
– African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR):
- Egypt signed the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on 16/11/1981 and ratified it on 20/3/1984.
– The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR):
- Egypt signed the Protocol establishing the Court on 17/2/1999 and has not ratified it.
– The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC):
- Egypt signed the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child on 30/6/1999 and ratified it on 9/5/2001.
- Dr. Azza Ashmawy, the former Secretary-General of the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood in Egypt, was elected to the Committee’s membership in 2013 for five years.
10- The Peace and Security Council (AU-PSC):
It was established in 2004 and its decisions are binding on all AU Member States.
It consists of 15 members, 10 of whom are elected for two years and 5 for three years, in rotation, in accordance with the principle of the geographical representation of the continent. Egypt is a member of the Council for a period of three years starting from April 2016.
11- Legal Institutions:
– The African Union Advisory Board on Corruption:
- The Board was established in 2006 under article 22 of the “African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption”, with the aim of promoting the adoption and application of anti-corruption measures in the continent and advising governments on how to address corruption in their national legislation.
- The President of the Republic signed the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption during the Addis Ababa Summit (January 2017).
- The African Union Commission on International Law (AUCIL):
- The AU Commission on International Law was established in February 2009 under the Statute of the African Union Commission on International Law as an independent advisory body authorized to follow developments in international law and legislation.
- The Egyptian Judge, Counselor Mohamed Barakat, won the elections of the AU Commission on International Law, which took place on the sidelines of the AU Summit held in Addis Ababa in January 2015.