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  • President Mugabe of Zimbabwe is currently blacklisted by the European Union, yet he

  • made waves in January 2015, when he was elected to chair the African Union. The position is

  • largely ceremonial, but human rights groups aren’t happy with the appointment. So, what

  • is the African Union? Well, it’s like the EU, but for the continent

  • of Africa. It originally began in 1963, as a slightly different entity - the Organization

  • for African Unity, which primarily fought colonialism from European countries like the

  • UK and Portugal. The OAU is famous for helping eradicate apartheid in South Africa, and mediating

  • several border disputes during the 60s. But it was re-vamped at the turn of the century

  • to focus more on promoting health, democracy, education, peace and human rights. In 2002,

  • the African Union was finally launched. There are 54 members, representing every nation

  • except Morocco, which opts out because of a dispute with another AU member, the Sahrawi

  • Arab Democratic Republic.

  • Every year, national leaders meet in Ethiopia to measure progress towards their goals and

  • discuss new concerns.

  • This year has a theme ofwomen’s empowerment and development”. Last year focused on .“Agriculture

  • and Food Security”, as well as ending poverty and Boko Haram violence. The UN has been working

  • closely with the union to combat Boko Haram, and the AU has carried out peace missions

  • in Darfur and Somalia. The AU is also planning a unified African currency system for 2023:

  • called the Afro. Also in the works are a human rights court, a bank system, and more military

  • strength for the AU to help protect the whole of Africa.

  • But the AU is still underfunded, and recent peace missions on behalf of the organization,

  • have been hampered by untrained, ill-equipped AU troops. Epidemic and pandemic diseases

  • also challenge efforts to unify the area, as does mass poverty. However, the African

  • Union’s ultimate quest for peace, and a sort ofpeer-reviewamong democratically

  • elected leaders at the yearly summits make it one of the most important political organizations

  • for progressive efforts in Africa, and worldwide.

  • Some members of the African Union have raised concerns that the International Criminal Court

  • has a bias toward indicting African leaders. Check out this video from AJ+ to learn more

  • about the ICC and their role in the world.

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe is currently blacklisted by the European Union, yet he

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