African Union (AU)
The African Union (AU) is the principal organization for the promotion of socioeconomic integration across the continent. It includes 53 African countries as member states, while Morocco has special status. The Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity called for its establishment in the Sirte Declaration on 9 September 1999, as a means to accelerate integration, so that Africa could play a significant role in the global economy, and to address shared social, economic and political problems. Its objectives include: achieving greater unity and solidarity between African countries and the peoples of Africa; promoting and defending common African positions on issues; encouraging international cooperation; establishing enabling conditions for the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations; promoting sustainable development and integration of African economies; and advancing the continent's development through research in all fields, particularly science and technology (S&T). The principle organs of the AU include the: Assembly; Executive Council; Commission; Permanent Representatives Committee; Peace and Security Council; Pan-African Parliament; Economic, Social and Cultural Council; Court of Justice; Financial Institutions; and Specialized Technical Committees, which includes the Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment. The current AU chair is the President of the Ghana, John Kufuor.
ASSEMBLY: The AU Assembly is composed of the Heads of State and Government of AU member states or their accredited representatives. The Assembly acts as the supreme organ of the AU and is mandated to: determine the common policies of the Union; consider and take decisions on reports and recommendations from other AU bodies; consider requests for membership of the AU; establish any organ of the Union; monitor the implementation of AU policies and decisions as well ensure compliance by all member states; adopt the AU budget; give directives to the Executive Council on the management of conflicts, war and other emergency situations and the restoration of peace; appoint and terminate the appointment of judges of the Court of Justice; and appoint the Chairperson of the Commission, his or her deputies and Commissioners, and determine their functions and terms of office.
EXECUTIVE COUNCIL: The Executive Council of Ministers of the AU is composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs or other ministers or authorities designated by member states. The Executive Council meets at least twice a year in ordinary session. It can also meet in an extraordinary session at the request of any member state and upon approval by two-thirds of all member states. The Executive Council is mandated to coordinate and take decisions on policies in areas of common interest to the member states, including: foreign trade; energy, industry and mineral resources; food, agricultural and animal resources, livestock production and forestry; water resources and irrigation; environmental protection, humanitarian action and disaster response and relief; transport and communications; insurance; education, culture, health and human resources development; S&T; nationality, residency and immigration matters; and social security.
AU COMMISSION: The Commission is responsible for the day-to-day management of the AU. Among other functions, it: represents the AU in intergovernmental forums; elaborates draft common positions; prepares strategic plans and studies for consideration by the Executive Council; and promotes and harmonizes the programmes and policies of the AU and Regional Economic Communities (RECs). The current chair of the AU Commission is Alpha Omar Konare (Mali).