The African Union was established in 2013 as a breakout from the Organization of African Union. It was created to promote the continent’s peace, security, and stability. The AU is made up of political and administrative bodies, and since its establishment, it has come under massive criticism from the government and the people.
The AU celebrated its 20th anniversary on the 9th of July, which was met with much criticism. Critics have always argued that it is very slow in responding to security threats. Africa has a very high level of conflict, and these conflicts are orchestrated by non-state actors. Popular among these conflicts are the Tuareg separatist and jihadist insurgencies in Mali, Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, militia insurgencies in Burkina Faso, al-Shabaab in Somalia, and the ethnic war in the Central African Republic.
The inability of the organization to effectively intervene in regional and state conflicts or even prevent insurgencies and forceful power overtakes raises a big eyebrow in their concept of championing “good governance” in the continent. The most likely reactions and statements by the governing body’s leaders are always political, very rehearsed, and lacking substance, ranging from weak diplomatic statements to insubstantial sanctions carefully worded to evoke a sense of activity. The AU has been dubbed the “President’s Club”, and critics have called for the union to be disbanded due to its ineffectiveness in protecting the continent.
Although the AU has come under fire in recent years, it has also successfully adopted some policies that have fostered economic growth. The body is a strong advocate of promoting democracy in the continent and has done so by preaching the values of democracy. On economic growth, the African Continental Free Trade zone was established to boost trade among African countries by about 34 billion dollars by the end of 2022. There have been some high-profile achievements in terms of security and peace seeking across Africa as championed by the union. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the peace talk of the AU’s Peace and Security Council where the leaders gathered to adopt a unified counter-terrorism strategy. The AU plays a very important role in coordinating responses to terrorism threats on a regional and continental level and these topics were debated at the summit.
The AU has also agreed on “Agenda 2063”, a 50-year roadmap strategy towards a more peaceful, prosperous and integrated Africa. The organisation has also established a diplomatic mission in China to strengthen ties between Africa and China. The AU has not always made the most impactful decisions as expected of them under severe circumstances but they have put a lot of effort into smaller initiatives that may yield incremental results.