Stuffing Old Wine in New Bottles: The Case of the Africa Union
The African Union (AU) was formally inaugurated on July 9, 2002, at Durban, South Africa, replacing the Organization of African Unity (OAU). African leaders, and supporters of the AU, generally argue that the new institution would enhance the economic, political and social integration and development of African people. Others are not so optimistic: they perceive the AU as a mere continuation of the OAU under a different name. This essay investigates what the AU is about and what is “new,” if anything, about it. Presenting a pan Africanist critique of the AU, this essay argues that the AU, as presently constituted, does not offer much hope for the transformation of the continent: it will not lead to a greater political economic and ideological autonomy and development of African peoples. The humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan, is discussed as a specific test to the AU’s conflict management capacity and to the new organization’s overall viability and authority.