African Union’s Inclusion in G20

During the 18th G20 Summit held in India, a historic decision was made to admit the African Union (AU) as a new member of the G20. This significant development comes merely three months after Indian Prime Minister Modi proposed the idea of AU’s inclusion.

Background: AU’s Inclusion in G20

The idea of admitting the African Union to the G20 was first presented in June, following Prime Minister Modi’s proposal to G20 leaders. It gained momentum after the ‘Voice of the Global South’ Summit in January 2023, where a majority of the AU’s 55 member countries participated. Prior to this, only one African nation, South Africa, was part of the G20. African leaders argued that, given Europe’s representation by both individual countries and the European Union, the AU deserved similar recognition.

African Union: An Overview

The African Union (AU) is an intergovernmental organization comprising 55 member states from the African continent. Launched officially in 2002, it succeeded the Organisation of African Unity (OAU, 1963-1999) and is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Vision of the AU

The AU is guided by the vision of “An Integrated, Prosperous, and Peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.” This vision sets a target to be achieved by 2063, marking the centenary of the OAU’s formation. Agenda 2063’s aspirations include:

  • A Prosperous Africa: Focused on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
  • An Integrated Continent: Aiming for political unity rooted in the ideals of Pan-Africanism.
  • Africa of Good Governance: Emphasizing democracy, human rights, justice, and the rule of law.

To realize these goals, the AU has established a series of five 10-year plans, with the first plan running from 2014 to 2023.

Objectives of the AU

The AU primarily concentrates on:

  • Enhancing Unity and Solidarity: Promoting greater unity and solidarity among African countries and their people.
  • Socio-Economic Integration: Accelerating political and socio-economic integration across the continent.
  • Addressing Multifaceted Issues: Tackling diverse social, economic, and political problems faced by African nations.
  • Peace, Stability, and Security: Promoting peace, stability, and security regionally.

Role of AU in Promoting Peace

The AU strongly believes that conflict resolution is imperative for achieving prosperity. To this end, it established a Peace and Security Council in 2004, with the ability to intervene in conflicts, including genocide and crimes against humanity. The council can also authorize peacekeeping missions.

The AU’s diplomatic efforts have played a crucial role in resolving conflicts, such as brokering a peace deal between the Ethiopian Government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in South Africa in 2022.

Economic Achievements: AfCFTA

One notable accomplishment of the AU is the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which became operational in 2021. With 54 member countries as signatories, AfCFTA is the world’s largest new free trade area since the establishment of the WTO in 1994. Its objectives include increasing intra-African trade through trade liberalization and regulatory harmonization. AfCFTA is projected to boost Africa’s income by $450 billion by 2035 and increase intra-African exports by more than 81%.

Shortcomings of the AU

  • Inability to Prevent Coups: The AU has been unable to prevent numerous coups in Africa since the 1960s, with over 200 coups occurring. Recent ones took place in Gabon and Niger.
  • Financial Dependency: The organization struggles with member countries failing to pay their annual dues, forcing it to rely on external funding, impacting its autonomy.

UPSC Mains Questions

  1. What are the key objectives and aspirations of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and how does it aim to achieve them?
  2. How has the African Union’s Peace and Security Council contributed to conflict resolution in Africa, and what are its powers and limitations?
  3. Analyze the significance of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in promoting intra-African trade and economic growth. What challenges and opportunities does it present?
  4. Discuss the implications of the African Union’s inclusion in the G20 for African diplomacy and its role in addressing global issues?

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