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Pambazuka News invites contributions to assess the extent to which the African Union (AU) has promoted and protected Africa’s unity in the current globalised world.

The establishment of the AU in 2002 as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) seemed, to many analysts of African affairs, as a strong determination of African leaders to deal with issues related to governance and social and economic development among others that the OAU was unable to fully address. As we look forward to the celebration of the 53rd African Liberation Day on 25 May 2016 and 14 years after that transformation of the continental organisation from the OAU to the AU, it is worth analysing whether African leaders have kept their promise to “promote unity, solidarity, cohesion and cooperation among the peoples of Africa and African States”.

The preamble of the Constitutive Act of the African Union clearly shows that, at the creation of the AU, African leaders were aware of the strong linkages between the continental organisation and the Pan-African movement to the point that it could be argued that the AU was a representation of Pan-Africanism in the 21st century. In addition, the various charters, conventions and protocols of the AU could also be considered as values and principles of Pan-Africanism in the 21st century. Indeed, those charters and protocols plainly present Africa’s position (or what ought to be Africa’s position) on a number of critical sectors ranging from agriculture, environment and management of natural resources, individual and community rights, citizen participation in governance, health and sanitation, security to relations with other continents. However, the critical question that remains is whether African leaders are doing what is required of them to go beyond those charters, conventions and protocols so that they can start showing some results in the lives of African people.

For instance, on issues of rights of individuals and communities, how can the AU claim to have promoted and protected those rights whereas it was silent on the recent case of the street demonstrations of Oromo people in Ethiopia? In addition, how can we say that the AU is promoting solidarity, cohesion and cooperation among the people of Africa while it did not do enough to intervene in countries such as Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt and South Sudan during various crises? If the AU is the current representation of Pan-Africanism shouldn’t it be focusing more efforts in fighting for the total social, cultural, economic and political emancipation of all Africans? If it is not the case, should progressive voices in Africa and the diaspora begin working towards establishing another continental organisation that is genuinely people-centred?

One would argue that the philosophical foundation of the AU ought to be Ubuntu; which would mean that the AU couldn’t keep quiet while fellow Africans are being killed, exiled or displaced from their homes and communities or simply denied their basic rights. Also, the current decision-making process of the AU where major decisions on African affairs are taken by Heads of State and Government with some of those leaders having questionable leadership records in their respective countries does not instill confidence among African people that the AU is a true representation of Pan-Africanism in the 21st century.

Based on that short background, Pambazuka News opens a series of angles on which you can contribute, as well as any other analysis that you could bring to this important debate on whether or not the AU is promoting and protecting the unity of African people in the current globalised world. Articles could attempt to respond to issues raised above and to the following questions below:

• Is the AU the right institution to promote and protect Africa’s unity?
• Should the AU be fundamentally restructured to be a truly people-centred institution?
• What role can the African diaspora play to strengthen or reform the AU?
• How can the AU claim that it is promoting Africa’s unity while its member states are averse to a borderless Africa?
• What needs to be done so that the AU and its member states go beyond charters, conventions and protocols?
• If the AU were to be restructured, what form would the new institution take?
• Is the unity of African people still possible in this globalised world?


LENGTH OF ARTICLES: Articles should be written in Microsoft Word, Times New Roman, size 12 and be between 1000-3000 words

Also submit a short biography of two lines at the end of your article and send it to:

This special issue of Pambazuka News will be published on 19 May 2016.