Organisation of African Unity

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Organisation of African Unity
Organisation de l'Unité Africaine
1963–2002
Flag of the Organisation for African Unity
Flag
Emblem
Emblem
Capital n/a a
Government Not specified
Secretary-general
 •  1963–1964 Kifle Wodajo
 •  1964–1972 Diallo Telli
 •  1972–1974 Nzo Ekangaki
 •  1974–1978 William Eteki
 •  1978–1983 Edem Kodjo
 •  1983–1985 Peter Onu
 •  1985–1989 Ide Oumarou
 •  1989–2001 Salim Ahmed Salim
 •  2001–2002 Amara Essy
History
 •  Charter 25 May 1963
 •  Disbanded 9 July 2002
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Casablanca Group
Monrovia Group
African Union
a Headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU; French: Organisation de l'unité africaine (OUA)) was established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, with 32 signatory governments.[1] It was disbanded on 9 July 2002 by its last chairperson, South African President Thabo Mbeki, and replaced by the African Union (AU).

Aims

The OAU had the following primary aims:

  • To co-ordinate and intensify the co-operation of African states in order to achieve a better life for the people of Africa.[1]
  • To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of African states.
  • The OAU was also dedicated to the eradication of all forms of colonialism and white minority rule as, when it was established, there were several states that had not yet won their independence or were white minority-ruled. South Africa and Angola were two such countries. The OAU proposed two ways of ridding the continent of colonialism and white minority rule. Firstly, it would defend the interests of independent countries and help to pursue the independence those of still-colonised ones. Secondly, it would remain neutral in terms of world affairs, preventing its members from being controlled once more by outside powers.

A Liberation Committee was established to aid independence movements and look after the interests of already-independent states. The OAU also aimed to stay neutral in terms of global politics, which would prevent them from being controlled once more by outside forces – an especial danger with the Cold War.

Part of a series on the
History of the
African Union

The OAU had other aims, too:

  • Ensure that all Africans enjoyed human rights.
  • Raise the living standards of all Africans.
  • Settle arguments and disputes between members – not through fighting but rather peaceful and diplomatic negotiation.

Soon after achieving independence, a number of African states expressed a growing desire for more unity within the continent. Not everyone was agreed on how this unity could be achieved, however, and two opinionated groups emerged in this respect:

Some of the initial discussions took place at Sanniquellie, Liberia. The dispute was eventually resolved when Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I invited the two groups to Addis Ababa, where the OAU and its headquarters were subsequently established. The Charter of the Organisation was signed by 32 independent African states.

At the time of the OAU's disbanding, 53 out of the 54 African states were members; Morocco left on 12 November 1984 following the admission of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as the government of Western Sahara in 1982.

The organisation was widely derided as a bureaucratic "talking shop" with little power. It struggled to enforce its decisions, and its lack of armed force made intervention exceedingly difficult. Civil wars in Nigeria and Angola continued unabated for years, and the OAU could do nothing to stop them.

The policy of non-interference in the affairs of member states also limited the effectiveness of the OAU. Thus, when human rights were violated, as in Uganda under Idi Amin in the 1970s, the OAU was powerless to stop them.

The Organisation was praised by Ghanaian former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan for bringing Africans together. Nevertheless, in its 39 years of existence, critics argue that the OAU did little to protect the rights and liberties of African citizens from their own political leaders, often dubbing it as a "Dictators' Club"[2] or "Dictator's Trade Union".

The OAU was, however, successful in some respects. Many of its members were members of the UN, too, and they stood together within the latter organisation to safeguard African interests – especially in respect of lingering colonialism. Its pursuit of African unity, therefore, was in some ways successful.

Total unity was difficult to achieve, however, as the OAU was largely divided. The former French colonies, still dependent on France, had formed the Monrovia Group, and there was a further split between those that supported the United States and those that supported the USSR in the Cold War of ideologies. The pro-Socialist faction was led by Kwame Nkrumah, while Félix Houphouët-Boigny of the Ivory Coast led the pro-capitalists. Because of these divisions, it was difficult for the OAU to take action against states involved in internal conflicts because it could rarely reach an agreement on what was to be done.

The OAU did play a pivotal role in eradicating colonialism and white minority rule in Africa. It gave weapons, training and military bases to rebel groups fighting white minority and colonial rule. Groups such as the ANC and PAC, fighting apartheid, and ZANU and ZAPU, fighting to topple the government of Rhodesia, were aided in their endeavours by the OAU. African harbours were closed to the South African government, and South African aircraft were prohibited from flying over the rest of the continent. The UN was convinced by the OAU to expel South Africa from bodies such as the World Health Organisation.

The OAU also worked with the UN to ease refugee problems. It set up the African Development Bank for economic projects intended to make Africa financially stronger. Although all African countries eventually won their independence, it remained difficult for them to become totally independent of their former colonisers. There was often continued reliance on the former colonial powers for economic aid, which often came with strings attached: loans had to be paid back at high interest-rates, and goods had to be sold to the aiders at low rates.

The USA and USSR intervened in post-colonial Africa in pursuit of their own objectives. Help was sometimes provided in the form of technology and aid-workers. Despite the fight to keep "Westerners" (Colonialists) out of African affairs,the OAU has failed to achieve to meet goals set up to advocate African affairs. The Organisation still heavily depends on Western help (Military and Economic) to intervene in African affairs despite African leaders displeasure dealing with the international community especially Western Countries.

Autonomous specialised agencies, working under the auspices of the OAU, were:

List of Chairpersons

List of Secretaries-general

OAU Summits

Egypt´s president Nasser at the Cairo summit 1964
Map of the African Union.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the African Union
Host City Host Country Date
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 22–25 May 1963
Cairo  Egypt 17–21 July 1964
Accra  Ghana 21–26 October 1965
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 5–9 November 1966
Kinshasa  Democratic Republic of the Congo 11–14 September 1967
Algiers  Algeria 13–16 September 1968
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 6–10 September 1969
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 1–3 September 1970
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 21–23 June 1971
Rabat  Morocco 12–15 June 1972
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 27–28 May 1973
Mogadishu  Somalia 1974
Kampala  Uganda 28 July – 1 August 1975
Port Louis  Mauritius 2–6 July 1976
Libreville  Gabon 2–5 July 1977
Khartoum  Sudan 18–22 July 1978
Monrovia  Liberia 17–20 July 1979
Freetown  Sierra Leone 1–4 July 1980
Nairobi  Kenya 24–27 June- 1981
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 6–12 June 1983
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 12–15 November 1984
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 18–20 July 1985
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 28–30 July 1986
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 27–29 July- 1987
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia Extraordinary Summit: October 1987
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 25–28 May 1988
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 24–26 July 1989
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 9–11 July 1990
Abuja  Nigeria 3–5 July 1991
Dakar  Senegal 29 June – 1 July 1992
Cairo  Egypt 28–30 June 1993
Tunis  Tunisia 13–15 June 1994
Addis Ababa  Ethiopia 26–28 June 1995
Yaoundé  Cameroon 8–10 June 1996
Harare  Zimbabwe 2–4 June 1997
Ouagadougou  Burkina Faso 8–10 June 1998
Algiers  Algeria 12–14 July 1999
Sirte  Libya Extraordinary Summit 6–9 September 1999
Lomé  Togo 10–12 July 2000
Lusaka  Zambia 9–11 July 2001, the last OAU summit

OAU members by date of admission (53 states)

  Indicates no longer member
Date Countries Notes
25 May 1963  Algeria
 Burundi
 Cameroon
 Central African Republic
 Chad
 Congo
 Democratic Republic of the Congo 1971–97 Zaire
 Dahomey From 1975 Benin
 Egypt
 Ethiopia
 Gabon
 Ghana
 Guinea
 Ivory Coast From 1985 Côte d'Ivoire
 Liberia
 Libya
 Madagascar
 Mali
 Mauritania
 Morocco Withdrew 12 November 1984 protesting the membership of Western Sahara
 Niger
 Nigeria
 Rwanda
 Senegal
 Sierra Leone
 Somalia
 Sudan
 Tanganyika Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged 26 April 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which was renamed Tanzania 1 November 1964.
 Togo
 Tunisia
 Uganda
 Upper Volta From 1984 Burkina Faso
 Zanzibar Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged 26 April 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which was renamed Tanzania 1 November 1964.
13 December 1963  Kenya
13 July 1964  Malawi
16 December 1964  Zambia
October 1965  Gambia
31 October 1966  Botswana
 Lesotho
August 1968  Mauritius
24 September 1968  Swaziland
12 October 1968  Equatorial Guinea
19 November 1973  Guinea-Bissau
11 February 1975  Angola
18 July 1975  Cape Verde
 Comoros
 Mozambique
 São Tomé and Príncipe
29 June 1976  Seychelles
27 June 1977  Djibouti
1 June 1980  Zimbabwe
22 February 1982  Western Sahara
3 June 1990  Namibia
24 May 1993  Eritrea
6 June 1994  South Africa

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Department of International Relations and Cooperation - South Africa". www.dfa.gov.za. 
  2. ^ "BBC NEWS - World - Africa - African Union replaces dictators' club". news.bbc.co.uk. 
  3. ^ African Parliamentary Union

Further reading

  • "OAU After Twenty Years" Pub. Praeger; ISBN 0-03-062473-8; (May 1984)
  • "Africa's First Peacekeeping Operation: The OAU in Chad, 1981-1982" by Terry M. Mays, Pub. Praeger; ISBN 0-275-97606-8; (30 April 2002)
  • "African Exodus: Refugee Crisis, Human Rights, & the 1969 OAU Convention" by Chaloka Beyani, Chris Stringer, Pub. Lawyers Committee for Human Rights; ISBN 0-934143-73-0; (July 1995)
  • CEC.rwanda2.free.fr, Report on the Rwandan Genocide in 2000.
  • Black-king.net, Emperor Haile Selassie I speaks at the OAU conference, Addis Ababa, 1963
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