The African Union, The AU, is a pan-African Organisation consisting of 53 African states. The goal of the AU is to propel and unite the continent towards peace and prosperity. The African Union succeeded the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 2002. The headquarters of the AU is located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Current Chairman is Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. The chairman is changed every year and is likely to do so in January 2012.
Some of the main objectives of the leading institutions within the African Union are:
- To acceleration the political and socio-economic integration of the continent;
- To foster sustainable growth;
- To promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its people;
- To promote peace among African nations, unity and security in Africa;
- To promote democratic institutions, good governance and human rights.
The African Union has a number of official bodies, these include:
- The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) who intent to provide popular and civil-society participation in the process of democratic governance;
- The Executive Council who prepares material for the Assembly to discuss concerning matters such as foreign trade, food and agriculture;
- The Peace and Security Council (PSC) who are defined as a "collective security and early warning arrangement to facilitate timely and effective response to conflict and crisis situations in Africa". They act in a similar way to the United Nations Security Council;
- The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights who are the chief African human rights body and are responsible for monitoring and promoting compliance with the African Charter.
There is one African State that is not currently a member of the African Union which is Morocco. Morocco left the predecessor of the African Union, the Organisation of African Unity in 1984 when member states supported the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and allowed them admission into the African Union. Morocco had had disputes with The Sahrawi Republic and therefore withdrew from the OAU as a form of protest.