African Union: The Failure of the Century
By: Ali Yare
Have you ever asked yourself about what African Union’s job is? Or who it represents? Or what benefit has it brought to the continent since it was founded? If you do so, you are not alone. Like everybody else these questions come to my mind frequently, and I myself can hardly find satisfactory answers to my questions too. In order to know more about this institution, I have given some assignments to myself and studied a little bit about the history, the success and performance of this organization (The African Union). After days of research and studies, my assessment has led me to conclude that the African Union exists by name only and it doesn’t have any other value to the African people. No single goal that matters to African people has been achieved by this organization. In the area of health, security, education, essential infrastructures, democracy and conflict resolutions, no tangible progress has been made during its existence. In my opinion, this organization is the most ineffective and the most unproductive institution that I can ever think of, and I believe that its ineffectiveness and lack of progress has something to do with its location. It is Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia that influences the management and the planning of the organization. Addis Ababa is not a modern city like Brussels or New York, the headquarters of EU and UN respectively, where democracy is the rule of law. It is a primitive, corrupt and a filthy city ruled by successive undemocratic rulers. It is not a dynamic city where openness and good governance is encouraged.
I am sure many of you don’t know who, where and when the original African Union was established. The first name of African Union was Union of African States, established in Addis Ababa in 1960 and one of the two founders was Haile Selassie one of the worst African tyrant who made his people believe that he was some kind of supernatural person. Haile Selassie, the guy who brainwashed his people and pushed them to the level where they had to spear in him as if he was their God. This shows that the foundation of African Union didn’t come from a healthy brain but from somebody who might be hungry for more power. Basically the whole plan of establishing this organization was not a well thought out idea that came from African nations in general. Maybe it was created out of emotions.
The other thing that many of you don’t remember is that Ethiopia, where AU headquarter is located, was a part of “Scramble for Africa” which was “the invasion, occupation, colonization and annexation of African territory by European powers during the period of New Imperialism, between 1881 and 1914” , and received Ogaden territory as a share. This shows that Ethiopia has never been interested in Africa unity or the welfare of African people and for those who don’t know that should go back to the history books.
Many of you will agree with me that AU is not important to African people because it is irrelevant to them. It has not achieved what it has been founded for. It has not elevated the people’s standard of living through developments, education, healthcare and democracy. If you look at the AU chart in human rights, in developments, in its vision and mission statement, you will be surprised how beautiful the chart is written, however, what is written in the document and how they execute their job is chalk and cheese (Opposite). Without hesitation, I can say African Union has fulfilled none of its promises and all that well articulated articles decorated in their chart means nothing.
One of the biggest mistakes of this organization was a mishandling of African borders, and lack of ability of resolving political issues among African nations. Africa was partitioned by European imperialism, and when AUC (Commission of African union) was founded, instead of going back to border conflict and resolve the conflicts caused by these partitions; they agreed to leave the borders as they were. They simply followed the footsteps of their colonial masters and this decision was the worst, to my opinion, that African Union has ever made. They should do better than colonizers, but they failed their people miserably.
According to African Union’s vision and mission statement, it declares that the organization is founded for the African people, and in its website it states that, “The vision of the African Union is that of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena” what kind of peace are they talking about? This is a ridiculous and misguiding vision statement which ignores the true situation in the African continent. The reality is that everywhere you go in Africa there is bloodshed, killing and hunger. While one of the worst human violation is taking place in Ogaden , a few hundred miles away from African Union’s headquarter, no African union member state has ever mentioned about it in any form.
The ogaden people are suffering tremendously in the hands of Ethiopia at the backyard of African Union’s base. Systematic displacement, systematic rape of women regardless of their age, indiscriminate killing, mass-arrest and complete blockade of movement is what the people of that land face every day. And for the last 70 years this atrocities have been going on in an unabated speed, so where has the so-called AU organization been for all these years? Or is African Union’s representatives going to say that they have not been aware of what is happening in Ogaden? I am sure they are aware of the human violations in Ogaden committed by Addis Ababa regime because they were well documented by human right organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, but they couldn’t care less. AU representatives are bunch of worthless individuals whose intention is personal interest and pay checks only. They don’t represent African people but they represent for themselves.
Sometimes, we may hear that AU sends peace keeping forces to such and such country, but we may not ask ourselves how these forces are sent and who pays the expenses. We all know that African Union cannot even feed their soldiers. They are unable to equip them. They have no capacity and means to carry out a peace keeping mission of their own. They have to always ask assistance to EU or USA. The African Union is nothing but a parasite which needs a host to live on.
When it comes to human right violations, African Union has no guts to speak out against human right abuser member states. They are unable to condemn their member states’ wrong actions. The African Unions’ role model, the Ethiopian regime, has the worst human right record in Africa and no member state is brave enough to mention about it on the AU floor in Addis Ababa.
Its inability to function like any other organization has more to do with Ethiopian political environment. NOW The African Union is hostage to Addis Ababa regime and unless the AU headquarter is moved out to some other democratic country where people are free to think, express their opinion, agree or disagree, I am afraid this organization will be worthless and an ineffective for many years to come.