Emeka Ogboh

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The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the African Union (AU)

Ethiopian emperor HaileSelassie (l)opens the foundingconference of theOrganisation of African Unity(OAU) on May 1963 in theAfrica House in Addis Ababa; © dpa

The Organizations of African Unity (OAU) was established on May 25, 1963 in Addis Ababa, when the OAU Charter was signed by representatives of 32 governments. A further 21 states joined gradually over the years, with South Africa becoming the 53rd member on May 23, 1994.

Foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) 1963. Ghana’s president Kwame Nkrumah (left) and Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie; © dpa

The objectives set out by the OAU were: To promote the unity and solidarity of African States; co-ordinate and intensify their co-operation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa; defend their sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence; eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa; promote international co-operation, giving due regard to the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and coordinate and harmonize members’ political, diplomatic, economic, educational, cultural, health, welfare, scientific, technical and defence policies.

Poster for the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). This poster was seen in Addis Ababa during the conference. It shows portraits of the 31 participating heads of government; © dpa

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was replaced by the African Union. On September 9, 1999, the Heads of State and Government of the Organisation of African Unity issued a Declaration (Sirte Declaration) calling for the establishment of an African Union.

Preparation for the OAU’s foundation; © dpa

The thirtysixth ordinary session of the assembly of Heads of State and Government ended with support from the 53 member states for the Constitutive Act that established the African Union in
Lome, Togo, on July 11, 2000. The headquarters of the AU is the Ethiopian capital, Addis
Ababa.

All pictures © dpa