Establishment and members
The Organization of African Unity was established in 1963 in Addis Abeba. From 32 independent Member States in 1963, the independent Member States of Africa are now 53. The OAU is entering from political liberalization to phase two by focusing on the economic integration. It has therefore a new mandate and new responsibilities which will by no means make it abandon its political character and its resolve to sustain peace and security in the continent which are crucial for the socio-economic development process.
Purposes and principles
The following purposes and principles are stated in OAU charter adopted in 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The OAU objectives are stated in Article II of the CHARTER as follows
1. to promote the unity and solidarity of the African States;
2. to co-ordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa;
3. to defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity and independence;
4. to eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa; and
5. to promote international cooperation, having due regard to the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.
To achieve these goals Member States pledged themselves to harmonize their policies in the foolowing fields.
1. Political and diplomatic cooperation;
2. economic cooperation, including transport and communication;
3. educational and cultural cooperation;
4. health, sanitation, and nutritional cooperation;
5. scientific and technical cooperation; and
6. cooperation for defence and security.
The OAU principles are stated in Article III of the CHARTER as follows
1. the sovereign equality of all Mernber States;
2. non- interference in the internal affairs of States;
3. respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each State and for its inalienable right to independent existence;
4. peaceful settlement of disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation or arbitration;
5. unreserved condemnation in all its forms, of political assassination as well as of subversive activities on the part of neighbouring States or any other States;
6. absolute dedication to the total emancipation of the African territories which are still dependent;
7. affirmation of a policy of non-alignment with regard to ail blocs.
In proclaiming OAU principles and objectives, the Founding Fathers of the Organization envisaged clearly a unity “that transcends ethnics and national différences.”
OAU action has been particularly significant in the following fields:
In this field, the OAU Co-ordinating Committee for the Liberation of Africa, has organized diplomatic support and channelled financial, military and logistical aid to liberation movements. Though much remains to be done before final victory is obtained, the struggle for liberation has gained considerable momentum. It is commanding every day increasing support from world opinion. At the United Nations, the liberation struggle is recognized as legitimate. Liberation movements representatives will soon be seated as observers at UN meetings. Through an OAU fund, international support is being channelled to liberated areas in Guinea Bissau, in Angola and Mozambique. OAU has initiated action with the International Court of Justice which has just declared that South Africa had no right to stay in Namibia. Consequently, UN action is being considered for the International territory of Namibia (former South West Africa) to accede to Independence. Likewise, a UN boycott is enacted against Rhodesia’s racist minority regime until majority rule is obtained. Every pressure is brought to bear on Great Britain, which, as a colonial power at the time of Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (1965), has to live by its constitutional and moral responsibility towards African majority in Rhodesia. Thus, Portugal, South Africa, Rhodesia and their NATO allies are periodically harassed and condemned for their colonialist and racist policy in Africa, particularly at the United Nations where’ the African group commands a near “blocking third” vote.
2. Boundary conflicts
In the ten years of its existence, OAU has been confronted with a number of boundary conflicts in North, East and Central Africa. Thanks to OAU machinery and efforts, these conflicts were settled in a true spirit of African Solidarity without outside intervention or interference. On such occasions, OAU made a name for itself as peacekeeper no. 1 in the continent. The UN General Assembly has paid tribute to OAU for the role played in the maintenance of international peace and security.
3. Defence of Member States’ sovereignty and territorial integrity
Action undertaken by OAU in this concern will remain one of its greatest achievements ever:
a)- In the Congo: where imperialism threatened in its supply lines of strategic raw materials (uranium, and copper) vied for disintegration to set up a puppet state.
b)- In Nigeria: where a civil war flared up and threatened the Federal Republic of Nigeria to its very foundation. By throwing its weight on the side of unity, and providing for appropriate machinery (an ad hoc Consultative Committee) OAU helped to prevent secession while maintaining the cohesion of its membership.
c)- In Republic of Egypt: which was aggressed and occupied in parts by Israeli forces in 1967. OAU has strongly condemned this Israeli aggression and demanded the withdrawal of Israeli troops from all occupied Arab territories. Egypt is one of the founding Member States of the Organization of African Unity.
d)- In Guinea: where Portugal’s last ditch attempt at colonial reconquest failed. In the wake of this aggression OAU‘s offer of financial and military aid to Guinea, along with its declared war on mercenaries in Africa and the successful information campaign it waged to alert international opinion were all evidence of the usefulness OAU has in facing outside aggression and the outside world.
e) -In Equatorial Guinea: where OAU support enabled the Young Republic to reinforce its newly won independence.
4. The struggle against Apartheid:
Through action of the African group at the United Nations and appropriate information campaigns Apartheid, the abhorred system of stateimposed racial discrimination in South Africa, Rhodesia and the International territory of Namibia (South West Africa), has been universally condemned as ”a crime against humanity”. (Teheran Conference in 1 968).
As a result of increasing pressure from all quarters, Apartheid South Africa has been forced out of the Commonwealth and a number of specialized institutions of the United Nations family.
In world sports, Apartheid South Africa has been barred from the Olympic Games and from International Tennis Tournaments.
5. Promotion of African Culture:
OAU staged both the 1st All African Cultural Festival (Algiers August 1969) and the First Workshop on African Folklore, Dance and Music (Mogadiscio Somalia) October 1 970.
The first momentous panafrican Festival took place in Algiers, Algeria in August 1969. Never before, had African culture and arts given such a brilliant display of their richness, variety and genius. Above cultural and artistic achievements, this First Festival was the triumph of African solidarity and sense of purpose, the triumph of AFRICANITY.
In Mogadiscio, the workshop on African folklore, dance and music was attended by many scholars and artists of international repute from OAU Member States. The quality of the various contributions is likely to influence any future development of African culture.
6. Fields of economic and social development, transport and telecommunication:
Thanks to OAU efforts, African countries have harmonized their policies with regard to UNCTAD, IBRD, IMF, UNIDO, ILO. Consequently, their claims for better terms of trade, full participation in a new international monetary system and more multilateral aid carry more weight.
Through OAU, African countries have proclaimed their permanent sovereignty over their natural resources, just as they are pressing for a modification of International Law with regard to the continental shelf and territorial waters.
In the social field, progress has been achieved towards the Unification of African Trade Unions and Youth Organizations,
In cooperation with ECA, blueprints for a rational continental telecommunications network and efficient air and road transport have been laid. To fly across Africa from east to west or to make a phone call one need no longer go through Paris or London.
A trans-saharan highway from Algiers (Algeria) to Mali and Niger is being built. Another one from Mombasa, Kenya to Lagos, Nigeria, is under active consideration.
An all african Trade fair, took place in Nairobi, Kenya, ( February 1972).
7. Fields of Education, Science, Health:
In these fields, OAU action may be credited with:
pre-investment studies: fishery projects; an anti-rinder pest campaign that has vaccinated so far a billion dollars worth of cattle, a number of scientific investigations on plant protection, soils, animal health, all of which may be obtained from the OAU/STRC office in Lagos, Nigeria.
pilot projects in the field of earth science: geology, geophysics, the idea being to supply Africa with the most up-to-date know-how and limit the “brain-drain”.
In the field of Education, African college graduate should soon be able to move from one African University to another, a scheme of degree equivalence being now devised.
In the field of health, preventive medicine and public health measures are being applied all over Africa.
8. Action in favour of African Refugees:
A bureau for placement and education of African refugees has been in operation at OAU headquarters since 1968. Great many African refugees ever since have been provided with educational and job opportunities. A convention governing aspects of refugee problems in Africa has been adopted by OAU Heads of State in September 1969. To the terms of this convention, a refugee status and right of asylum are recognized to refugees by all independent African countries.
“No longer are refugees subjected to rejection at the frontier, return or expulsion, which would compel them to return to or remain in a territory where their life or freedom would be threatened’. (Article 11 of OAU convention on refugees).
To achieve its aims with much efficiency, OAU is composed of following institutions:
The Assernbly of Heads of State and Government (it meets in Ordinary Session first Monday of June every year)
The Council of Ministers i.e. Foreign Affairs Ministers (it meets twice a year, in February mainly on budgetary matters and in May/June prior to Summit.) Other Ministerial Sectoral Meetings are held every two years in different domains such as Labour, Information, Trade, Health, Culture, etc.
The General Secretariat (based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) The General Secretariat is headed by a Secretary General, who is elected by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a term of four years. He has five Assistant Secretary Generals, each elected from a geographical region by the Assembly for a term of four years. The six may be re-elected.
The General Secretariat is constituted of:
-Office of the Secretary General under which operates his Cabinet, Protocol, Information, Security, Legal Affairs, Inspectorate, Budget Control and Afro-Arab Co-operation.
– Political Department
– Economic Co-operation and Development Department (EDECO)
– Education, Science, Culture and Social Affairs Department (ESCAS)
– Finance Department
– Administration and Conferences Department.
– Regional and sub-regional Offices exist in New York, Geneva, Cairo, Brussels, Lagos, Niamey. Dar es Salam (hosts to the OAU liberation Committee).
Specialized Commissions established are:-
– Economic and Social Commission
– Educational, Scientific, Cultural and Health Commission
– Commission of Fifteen on Refugees
– Defence Commission
– Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration Commission
Autonomous Specialized Agencies working under the auspices of the OAU are:
-Pan-African Telecommunications Union (PATU)
-Pan-African Postal Union (PAPU)
-Pan-African News Agency (PANA)
-Union of African Natioral Television and Radio Organizations (URTNA)
-Union of African Railways (UAR)
-Organization of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU)
-Supreme Council for Sports in Africa
Following the introduction of the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community, the General Secretariat is to serve as the Secretariat for the African Economic Community (AEC). Over 600 staff members of whom 1 52 of the professional category, recruited from over 40 Member States are in the service of the Organization at the Headquarters and Regional and sub-Regional Offices.
The General Secretariat is the Permanent organ whose task is to service various OAU Meetings, implement decisions and resolutions adopted by the Summit and Council. It keeps documents and archives and generally speaking conduct the daily work of coordination among Member States in all fields stated in the Charter.
The annual budget of the Organization (1 st June to 31 st May) is provided by contributions from Member States in accordance with the scale of assessment which is calculated on the basis of area, population and per capita income. However, no Member States shall be assessed on an amount exceeding 20% of the yearly regular budget of the Organization. The budget is in the range of US$27 – 30 million.
The official languages are: Arabic, English, French, Portuguese