Research Binder Friday: African Union

by Rose Jacobs on December 23, 2016

Welcome back to Research Binder Friday! Today, we’ll be taking a look at one of the international community’s most interesting bodies out there for delegates to simulate: the African Union! 

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The African Union’s Story

The African Union was first established as a body with 32 member states from the continent of African in 1963, known as the Organization of African Union (OAU). During the 1990s, the OAU underwent several shifts in structure and was re-established as the African Union in 1999, and the Lome Summit in 2000 adopted the Constitutive Act of the African Union, establishing the responsibilities and powers of the body. Currently, the AU’s purpose is to work towards a peaceful, prosperous, and integrated Africa through advancing development on the African continent, promoting and protecting human rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and defending common African positions of interest. The AU has a variety of different structural bodies within its purview; while most Model UN conferences simulate the Assembly of the AU (comparable to the General Assembly Plenary of the United Nations), the AU also contains an African Court of Justice, regional peacekeeping capabilities, and Specialized Technical Committees as established through the aforementioned Constitutive Act.

Funding and Relationships with Other Organizations

The African Union’s budget comes from a variety of sources, including those inside and outside the African continent itself. First, each African Union member state is required to make payments to the organization in order to maintain the benefits of this membership; however, due to the numerous outside agencies also acting as AU beneficiaries, there is little pressure on members who default or make their payments late. Still, the fact that membership to the AU requires buy-in means that the AU also has the power to sanction its members.

At the same time, the AU receives contributions from various other organizations around the world, known as “partners”, in order to realize its lofty goals. These actors include the European Union, different Asian states (the most notable being China), the United Nations, and the World Bank. At present, member nations currently fund around 60% of the AU’s infrastructure operations, and by 2020, the AU hopes to be able to fund 100% of these operations, 75% of its programs, and at least 25% of its peace and security component (including its peacekeeping forces).

Alongside its work with international actors, the AU works closely with different regional, economic bodies, known as Regional Economic Communities, within Africa, made up of AU member states. There are eight RECs currently standing, and some prominent examples of these bodies include the Economic Commission for West African States  (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).


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Common Topics

Here are some common topics that simulations of the AU at Model UN conferences frequently discuss:

  • Child Soldiers
  • The Ebola Crisis
  • The HIV/AIDS Problem
  • Foreign Aid
  • Sustainable Energy on the African Continent
  • Illicit Drugs Trafficking in West Africa
  • Illicit Arms Trafficking in West Africa
  • The Situation in the Central African Republic
  • Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development
  • Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict
  • The Rise of Boko Haram (and other terrorist groups)
  • The Conflict in Western Sahara


Learn more about the African Union and other related agencies through these provided resources! – The main website of the African Union. – The website for the AU’s Agenda 2063, a set of goals AU member nations hope to achieve by this date. – The Constitutive Act of the African Union in full. – The website of the African Development Bank. – The website of the Economic Commission for West African States.


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