THE ROLE OF AFRICAN UNION (A.U.) IN PROMOTING PEACE AND SECURITY IN AFRICA
Since the transformation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to African Union (A.U.) various measures were adopted by the newly formed organization to promote peace and security in the African continent, apart from the efforts of the United Nations (UN) whose primary purpose is to promote peace and security all over the world. The role of the newly formed African Union has been expanded to include issue of human right promotion, conflict management, promotion of good governance and the issue of unconstitutional change of government. This is the first time in the history of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) that the issue of “exclusive domain” has been removed from the Charter of the OAU and by including in the new Constitutive Act of the AU the right of the Union to intervene in the internal affairs of a member country where there is arm conflict. Various specialize agencies were created in the new AU Act including African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Human Right Commission, the African Human Right Court, all in a bid to provide peace and security in the continent. The reason why African Union is promoting peace and security in the continent is simple: peace and security is a desirable societal objective as opposed to war and conflicts and to mark a departure from the traditional one-level belief by the International Community that African countries are more conflictual in nature. The end of the Cold War has altered the international strategic environment and forced a radical revision of the global power structure disrupting the natural harmony amongst people and replaced them with hostile ideologies. African States were products of colonial designs. Their economies operated in a system of global transactions that seems biased against them. After independent, erstwhile colonial masters continued to influence direction by providing aids, advice and models of development, which at the end of it not viii beneficial. Lack of unity, good governance and a strong economic base has made Africans have a significant share of responsibility for its failure. By late 1980s a continent touted as a “continent of promise” in the independence decade of the 1980s was fast becoming a “global basket case.” All through the 1960s and the first half of the subsequent decade, Africa was perceived as having more opportunities than Asia or Latin America but lack basic social structure. The reverse turned out to be the case as the story of African development was marked more by human and natural tragedies combined with remarkable failure of socio-economic and political management, vast population increase, declining food production rates, debts overhang, unemployment, bad governance, lack of good health facilities and accelerated poverty all contributed to lack of peace and security in Africa. African Leaders and some commentators on African Affairs agreed that some of the provisions of the OAU Charter were major barriers to the promotion of peace and security in Africa. Therefore in September, 1999 in Sirte, Libya, African leaders agreed that the OAU is due for review and by July 10, 2002 in Durban South Africa, the formal launching of the African Union took place to replace it with the former OAU. The idea was not only to change the negative perception of the continent as a continent of conflicts and wars but a holistic approach to promote peace and security.