Can the African Union Rise to Meet Its Moment?
On 18-19 February, the African Union (AU) held its annual heads of state summit in the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This event marked the culmination of a year of active diplomatic engagements across the African continent against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and its global fallout. The two-day summit was highly anticipated. The continent is facing an array of outside actors jostling for influence as global divisions mount, a multitude of conflicts and crises internally, and an insecure financial future, with much of its funding coming from external backers such as the European Union and their shifting priorities. In order to better tackle the challenges facing the continent in the years ahead, many observers are now calling for fast-tracking the institutional reforms of the AU.
This week on The Horn, Alan Boswell speaks with Liesl Louw-Vaudran, Crisis Group’s senior adviser to the AU, about the highlights of the 2023 AU Summit, the union’s overall progress and the challenges facing it. They discuss the AU's bid for permanent African seats on the UN Security Council and its possible accession to the G20. They also dive into the AU's position against coups, the crisis in the Great Lakes region and its mediating role in the conflict in Ethiopia. They touch on the organisation’s original ambition, its focus on peace and security, as well as the structural impediments it faces, such as member state sovereignty, decision-making difficulties and external funding. Finally, they discuss ways in which the AU can adapt to better fulfil its mandate.
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