African Union: Study on An African Union Government towards the United States of Africa
June 2006

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  • Africa1 has consistently influenced the world community since the very origin of humankind. Africans participated in the growth and development of knowledge, the arts, and spirituality. The Pan-African movement was essentially anchored in this historical legacy and the imperative necessity of the continent and its Diaspora to regain its dignity after centuries of slavery followed by colonial rule.

  • The Pan -African movement, which was spearheaded mainly by the African Diaspora, was based on three main pillars, namely
    1. Shared historical and cultural values
    2. Collective self - reliance and self-sufficiency
    3. Political freedom.
    The interaction between the movement and African researchers and political leaders has greatly influenced the struggle for independence in Africa, of which the search for unity and collective action was part and parcel.

  • Since becoming politically independent, African countries have made efforts to individually address the economic and social challenges they all face with limited success. This has been partly the result of various impediments, including in particular lack of good governance and an overall unfavourable international economic order. In order to improve their development performance, African leaders are increasingly convinced that they must act collectively.

  • As an expression of the will to act collectively on issues of common interest, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was established on May 25 1963, as a result of a compromise between supporters of a full political integration and those preferring a loose cooperation organization. With an initial membership of 35 countries, the OAU remained the only continental organization until its replacement by the African Union in 2002. The OAU made important contributions, mainly through its Liberation Committee, to the freedom fight of countries that were still under colonial rule and to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and the minority rule in former Rhodesia. Its membership, which includes all regions of the continent, amounted to 53 countries in 1994.

  • Africa's search for a collective development strategy and integration schemes, documented in the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA), as well as in the Final Act of Lagos (FAL) and the Abuja Treaty establishing an African Economic Community (AEC), was also an initiative of the OAU supported by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Both the FAL and the Abuja Treaty specifically stressed the role of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in the establishment of the AEC in six stages over a period of 34 years, from the entry into force of the Treaty. The Treaty also made provision for the establishment of continental institutions including a Pan African Parliament (PAP), an Economic, Social and Culural Council (ECOSOCC) and an African Central Bank (ACB).

  • Regarding the integration process, the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA) was established in May 1991. The CSSDCA, advocated for a holistic approach to African development by stressing the inter-linkage between peace, security, good governance and the improvement of economic and social conditions. Also, the principle of popular participation, including the role of women, increasingly gained prominence, with the adoption, in 1990, of the African Charter for Popular Participation in Development and Transformation. Thus all factors that potentially concur to collective and self-sustained development of the continent were clearly spelt out in the early 1990s.

  • In spite of the progress made, particularly in the establishment of RECs in the regions where they did not exist in 1991, the timeframe for the implementation of the Abuja Treaty was found to be too long. This was for several reasons, particularly lack of political will, lack of awareness among large segments of the African people, and overdependence on external assistance. At the same time, tremendous progress was being made in other world regional economic and trading blocs.

  • Against this background, African countries resolved to move towards political union by establishing, in 2002, the African Union (AU) to replace the OAU. The AU was meant to
    1. Accelerate the implementation process of the Abuja Treaty
    2. Strengthen the RECs and speed up the establishment of the continental institutions of the AEC.

  • Furthermore, African Heads of State and Government also adopted, by Declaration AHG/Decl.1 (XXXVII) of the Lusaka Summit, the New African Initiative (NAI), which subsequently became the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The main purpose of NEPAD is to place African countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustained economic growth and sustainable development at the same time, and transform them into competitive participants in world economic, monetary and political affairs. In launching, almost simultaneously, the African Union and NEPAD, African Heads of State and Government wanted to ensure that the latter would be an essential implementation tool of the former. Thus, as in the early 1990s, Africa was prepared to enter the new millennium with renewed determination for collective action.

  • Today, there is a growing recognition among African countries of the need to provide the African Union with stronger continental machinery in order to work on agreed strategic areas of focus yet to be identified. To that end, the Assembly of the AU set up two ad hoc committees of Heads of State and Government which concluded that the “necessity for eventual Union Government is not in doubt”. The Union Government must be a “Union of the African people and not merely a Union of states and governments”. It must have “identifiable goals” and be based on a set of clearly identifiable shared values and commonality of interest…and on the principle of strict adherence”.

  • The Heads of State and Government also noted that “the formation of a Union Government must be “based on a multi-layered approach” whereby after basic internal contradictions at the national level are reviewed and resolved…the next logical step “must be to identify and clearly assign specific roles to states, sub-regional entities and the continental political framework”. The approach must also be based on the principle of “gradual incrementalism”. Finally,” the RECs must be made more effective as the building blocks for the continental framework (and) a clear decision must be made on rationalizing the sub-regional economic communities so that investments are made to build synergies between the RECs and the Union Government”.

  • This study was prepared as a follow up to the above decisions and guidelines. Its main objectives are to
    1. Elaborate further on the necessity for an African Union Government, based on shared values and common interests of African countries and peoples
    2. Propose strategic areas of focus
    3. Examine the implications of an African Union Government at continental, regional and national levels, in terms of institutions, and programmes where applicable, taking into consideration the present situation
    4. Suggest a ROADMAP for the establishment of a Union Government. It is supplemented by background documents where detailed information is provided on the historical context of the study, continental organs, the RECs and on the financial Institutions.

  • The next chapter provides a general framework for establishing a Union Government. Such framework includes a review of the shared values and common interests of African countries and people. It suggests strategic areas of focus that have been identified in which the Union Government may, progressively, have full or partial responsibility. Thereafter, an assessment is made of the institutional and programmatic implications, first at the continental level, then at the level of the RECs, and finally at national level. Also, a brief review is made of the NEPAD programme as well as the possible financing mechanism for the Union Government.

  • In the final chapter, a tentative Roadmap is proposed taking into account the existing realities on the ground. The Roadmap seeks, first, to establish and then consolidate processes and structures that will be vital in the short and medium term, at various levels (continental, regional and national), so as to give the Union Government the tools and means that are required to achieve the irreversible conclusion of full political integration that, finally, leads to the United States of Africa.

  1. Africa refers to the whole continent, from North to South, from East to West without distinction as to race, language and religion.

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