Following a decision of its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), to set up a new regional organization to expand on its work, the African Union (AU) was officially launched in July 2002 in Durban, South Africa.


The AU vision is:

An integrated, successful and peaceful Africa that represents a vibrant global force driven by our own citizens. Agenda 2063 is a collective view and roadmap for building a prosperous and united Africa based on shared values and common destiny. It was formally adopted by the AU Assembly in 2015.


These are just some of the many objectives:

  • Accelerating the continent’s political and socio-economic integration;
  • Promoting international cooperation with due regard for the Charter of the UN and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
  • Promoting on the continent peace, security and stability;
  • Promoting democratic principles and institutions, popular involvement and good government.


In 1963 the OAU was formed by the 32 African countries which achieved independence in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There were 21 additional members who joined the new organization gradually to a total of 53 by the launch of the AU in 20021. The fifty fourth Member State has been South Sudan in 2011 and the fiftieth Member State of Morocco in 2017.

The main goals of the OAU were: to promote African States ‘ unity and solidarity; coordinate their cooperation and effort to make the people of Africa better able to live; to safeguard Member States ‘ sovereignty and territorial integrity; remove colonization and apartheid from the continent of the United Nations; to support international cooperation in the context of the United Nations and to harmonize me. The OAU acted in compliance with its Constitution and the 1991 African Treaty (called the Abuja Treaty).

In the 1990s, members addressed the need to change the frameworks of the OAU to meet the demands of a changing world. The establishment of the AU shifts the attention to Africa’s growth and integration, from promoting emancipation from colonialism and apartheid. The Union vision included speeding up the integration process in Africa; promoting the empowerment of African states in the world economy; addressing the continent’s various social, economic and policy problems; and promoting peace, security, stability, democracy, good governance and human rights.

Three summits were held in the lead up to the official launch of the AU, the:

  • Sirte Summit (1999), which adopted the Sirte Declaration calling for the establishment of the AU
  • Lomé Summit (2000), which adopted the AU Constitutive Act
  • Lusaka Summit (2001), which drew the roadmap for implementation of the AU.
  • The Durban Summit (2002) launched the AU and convened its first Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

A considerable number of OAU structures and all treaties and conventions have been carried into the AU. There are also significant new mechanisms under the AU Constitutive Act and guidelines, both at the level of major bodies and via a range of new professional and subordinate committees. Since 2002, many have evolved and some continue to be produced.

In January 2016, decisions of the AU Assembly included the revision and review of the Act “in order to provide an effective legal tool to speed up, facilitate and strengthen the efficiency and process of integration of the AU continent” (Assembly/AU/Dec.597(XXVI)).


There are four elements in the AU emblem. On either side of the outer circle, the palm leaves stand for unity. The circle of gold symbolizes the prosperity and future of Africa. African unity is a simple map of Africa without internal boundaries. Africa’s solidarity and blood ship for Africa’s liberation are the small interlocking red rings at the base of the emblem.

At the 13th Ordinary Meeting of Heads of State and Government held in Sirte, Libya (Assembly / AU / Dec.267(XIII)), in July 2009 the current flag of the African Union was adopted.

The logo is a dark green map of the continent of Africa, with a white sun surrounded by a circle of gold (yellow) five-pointed stars, on a dark green background. The green world symbolizes Africa’s hope and the 55 stars are the Member States.


The AU Anthem Let us all Unite and Celebrate Together is included in the appendices section of this Handbook and is on the AU website (follow the tab ‘About’).


Under Article 11 of the Protocol to the Act on the AU Constituent, Arabs, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Kiswahili and other African languages shall be the official languages for the AU and all its institutions. Arabic, English, French and Portuguese are working languages for AU.

Operating Structure

Heads of State and Government House: It is the highest political and decision-making body of the AU. This comprises the Heads of State and Government of all Member States.

The Board of Directors. In the areas of Member States ‘ common interest the Executive Council shall formulate and decide policy. He is in charge of the House. This takes into account the problems this applies to and supervises the execution of the Assembly’s policies.

The Executive Council is composed of foreign ministers or other government ministers appointed by the Member States ‘ governments.

Standing Committee of Representatives (PRC). It is the Committee that prepares the Executive Council’s work and is responsible for acting on the instructions of the Executive Council. This requires Permanent Union representatives and other Member States ‘ plenipotentiaries.

Technical Specialized Committees (STCs). Subject committees under the AU Constitutive Act are made available and shall be accountable to the Executive Board. This requires ministers or senior officials of Member States.

Commission for Peace and Safety (PSC). The PSC is the AU agency for conflict resolution, prevention and management. It consists of 15 Member States that have been elected.

Commission of the African Union. The Secretariat of the AU is the Council. It is situated in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, and consists of an elected president, deputy president and 8 commissioners and staff.

In January 2016 the Executive Council agreed that all AU bodies should have two members from each of the five regions of Africa, and that a floating headquarters rotate between the regions where appropriate, and that there should be at least one female member of each region (EX.CL / Dec.907(XXVIII)Rev.1).

Regional Economic Communities (RECs)

RECs are ethnic bodies of African States and are the foundations of the AU. They serve the African Union. Before the AU was launched, all were created. The RECs are individually developed and have different roles and structures. The objective of the RECs is in general to facilitate regional economic integration between individual regions members and through the broader African Economic Community (AEC) established in accordance with the Abuja Treaty (1991). This Treaty, in effect since 1994, seeks to establish a single African market that uses the RECs as building blocks.

Eight RECs are recognised by the AU,the:

  • Arab Maghreb Union (UMA)
  • Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
  • Community of Sahel–Saharan States (CEN–SAD)
  • East African Community (EAC)
  • Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
  • Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
  • Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
  • Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Agenda 2063

Agenda 2063 is a specific policy structure for sustainable growth and sustained development and Africans endogenous Structural transformation strategy. It is rooted in the AU Constitutive Act, AU Vision and AU Assembly 50th Solemn Anniversary Declaration of 2013, as well as the Seven African Aspirations in 2063. Agenda 2063 was adopted at its 24th Ordinary Session (AU / AU / Dec. 565(XXIV)) on 31 January 2015 by the UA Assembly. The assembly reiterated in January 2016 that the 2063 Agenda for socioeconomic growth is a popular continental structure (Assembly / AU / Dec.588(XXVI)).

The seven aspirations for 2063 are:

  • A prosperous Africa focused on sustainable and inclusive development
  • A politically united integrated continent based on the ideals of Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance vision.
  • Good governance, democracy, human rights, justice and the rule of law in Africa
  • A peaceful and secure Africa
  • An Africa that has a strong cultural heritage, shared history, values and ethics
  • An Africa that has a human development that relies on the potential of Africans, especially their wives and youth, and cares for children
  • Africa as a strong global player and partner, unified, resilient and influential.

Global Tourism Forum Annual Meeting 2020

Global Tourism Forum Annual Meeting 2020 will be held in the AU Conference Center and Office Complex (AUCC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is the headquarters of the African Union and plays host to the biannual AU summits. It also serves as a conference center for African and diaspora businesses. Global Tourism Forum Annual Meeting 2020 will host 3000 delegates between the dates of April 2-4, 2020.

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