African Union [AU]

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Oct 21, 2022, 11:14

The African Union (AU) is a continental union that promotes solidarity and unity among all African countries. Currently, there are 55 members of the AU, which works for the socioeconomic development of Africa and intercontinental cooperation. African Union was formed to replace the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The African Union area covers around 11 million sq m and has 1.3 billion people in it. Its decisions are made by the Assembly of the African Union. Learn more about the AU, its objectives, its history, and its significance here.

What is African Union?

African Union is a union comprising multiple African countries that work collaboratively to promote the continent's socioeconomic and intercontinental development. This organization was founded on 9 September 1999 and replaced the Organization of African Unity.

The African Union has several political and administrative units, the highest of which is the Assembly of the African Union. The chairperson of the Assembly is Félix Tshisekedi, who is also the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

More information about African Union:

  • French, Portuguese, English, Spanish, and Kiswahili are the main working languages.
  • Official bodies within the African Union include the Peace and Security Council as well as the Pan-African Parliament.
  • Its responsibilities include representing the African Union and protecting its interests, as directed and authorized by the Assembly and the Executive Council.

African Union Member States

There are a total of 55 member states in the African Union. Some of the member states are now suspended. The complete list of the African Union countries is given as follows:

African Union Countries


Burkina Faso (suspended)








South Sudan


Central African Republic














South Africa



Mali (suspended)




Guinea (suspended)







Cape Verde

Ivory Coast

Democratic Republic of the Congo







Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic

Republic of the Congo




Equatorial Guinea

São Tomé and Príncipe



African Union History

On 9 September 1999, in Sirte, Libya, the African Union was declared in the Sirte Declaration, which called for the formation of the African Union Commission. The bloc was created in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 26 May 2001 and launched in Durban, South Africa, on 9 July 2002.

The African Union was created to supersede the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was founded on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa by 32 signatory nations and disbanded on 9 July 2002. The African Union's most important decisions are taken by the African Union Assembly, a semi-annual gathering of the continent's heads of government.

Objectives of the African Union

The African Union Commission, the AU's secretariat, is situated in Addis Ababa. Lagos, Nigeria, is the largest city in the AU, whereas Cairo, Egypt, is the largest urban agglomeration. Over 1.3 billion individuals live in the African Union, which encircles around 29 million km and contains well-known international monuments like the Sahara and also the Nile. The objectives of the African Union are:

  1. To develop greater African unity, cohesion, and solidarity among African counties and nations.
  2. To protect its member states' sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence.
  3. To hasten the continent's political and socioeconomic union.
  4. To encourage and defend African solidarity on problems that concern the country and its people.
  5. Encourage international cooperation while keeping the United Nations Charter as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in mind.
  6. To create peace, security, and stability.
  7. To promote democratic values and institutions, as well as public involvement and good governance.
  8. In line with the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights as well as other applicable human rights instruments, to promote and safeguard human and peoples' rights.
  9. To provide the conditions that would allow Africa to take its proper place in the global market and in international talks.
  10. To encourage economic, social, and cultural sustainability and the unification of African economies.

African Union Assembly

The African Union Assembly, which is made up of all the heads of state and government from member states, is the highest decision-making body. Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, chairs the Assembly. The Pan-African Parliament, which is made up of 265 members elected by the national legislatures of AU member states, is another representative body of the organization. Roger Nkodo Dang is the organization's President. The African Union's other political institutions include:

  1. The Executive Council, which is made up of foreign ministers and prepares decisions for the Assembly;
  2. The Permanent Representatives Committee, which is made up of AU member states' ambassadors to Addis Ababa; and
  3. The Economic Council

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa chairs the African Union Commission, which serves as a secretariat to the political bodies. Dlamini-Zuma became the first female head of the African Union Commission on 15 July 2012, after defeating Jean Ping of Gabon in a closely contested vote. The African Union Commission serves as the AU's executive/administrative department or secretariat. It is comprised of a number of Commissioners who are responsible for several policy areas.

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FAQs on African Union

Q1. What is the African Union?

African Union is a continental union comprising of 55 member states that promote solidarity and unity among all African countries. The union was established to replace the Organization of African Unity and came into existence on 9 September 1999.

Q2. Who is the present chairperson of the African Union?

President Macky Sall of Senegal is the present chairperson of the African Union. She was elected as the new chairperson of the African Union (AU) for 2022. She succeeded Felix- Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo as the new chairperson.

Q3. How many nations are members of the African Union?

The African Union is composed of 55 member states that represent all of Africa's countries. It is organized into five geographical zones. All African Union members have a say and representation in the decisions that the Assembly of African Union makes.

Q4. Why is the African Union Commission's headquarters in Ethiopia?

Ethiopia is a strong state in an unstable portion of Africa and has a key position as the home of the African Union Commission. Ethiopia is also seen as a key ally of the European Union in its efforts to prevent African migrants from migrating to Europe.