The African Union (AU) is an intergovernmental organization. It consists of 52 African states. The AU consists of both political and administrative bodies. The most important organ of the AU is the assembly. All the heads of state or government of member states of the AU together constitute the assembly and it meets semi-annually. It is the highest decision making body of the AU. The executive council, a political institution of the AU, assists the assembly in preparing decisions for the assembly. Other political institutions within the AU are the Permanent Representatives Committee (consisting of the ambassadors to Addis Ababa of AU member states) and the Economic, Social, and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC-a civil society consultative body.)
Objectives of the AU are:
- to accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent;
- to promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples;
- to achieve peace and security in Africa; and
- to promote democratic institutions, good governance and human rights.
The AU also has a representative body called the Pan African Parliament with 265 members. Its members are elected by the national parliaments of the AU member states.
The AU was formed as a successor to the Organization of African Unity (OAU). It is headquartered at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Some of the important documents establishing norms at continental level that the AU has adopted include the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (2003) and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and its associated Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance.