African Union: A Real Integration or a Declarative One?

  • Petr Jelínek


First summit meeting of the African Union, which took place in July 2002 in Durban, constituted a climax of the transformation process of the Organisation of African Unity. The Constitutive Act of the African Union, which accelerates the institutional change of the African continental organisation, entered into force. The African Union relinquishes to a certain extent the principles, which the OAU leant upon, it abandons all the strict adherence to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs. Approval of the Protocol on establishment of the Peace and Security council raised hopes for successful conflict resolution in Africa even though the experience of the OAU showed rather limited (although not completely negligible) role that the Pan-African organisation could play in the area of conflict resolution.
The author applies theories of integration on the Pan-African integration processes in order to find an explanation to it. But although many integration processes in Africa comport on the surface with the so-called neofunctionalist theory, and although the term "functionalist" was used to describe the integration spilling over from the sphere of an economic co-operation, the integration processes do not follow the course predicted by a prominent protagonist of the neo-functionalist school of Ernest Haas. Supranational bureaucracies did not become the leading forces behind the integration processes, and interest groups / political parties did not shift their activities and expectations to the supranational structures. The integration in Africa remained firmly in the hands of the national governments.
While searching for the answer to the question of whether it is possible to explain the integration processes by the ideological conviction of African statesmen, the author highlighted the role, which the Pan-Africanism played in the emancipation of the continent. He also stressed the fact that Pan-African rhetoric is always present in the speeches of the African politicians. But after having cited the cases in which the declaratory allegiance to Pan-Africanism did not preclude anti-integration measures from being taken, he had to conclude that the Pan-African ideology is so vague that it does not commit African statesmen to any particular steps in the area of integration.
The author applied the transactionalist paradigm on the integration processes in Africa but he had to conclude that the level of interdependence on the African continent is quite low. He found that although it is possible to identify regions bound by intensive economic and migration flows, the integration groupings were created even among states without any meaningful bonds.
The author arrived to the conclusion that external environment had major impact on the integration in the postcolonial Africa. The determination to eradicate colonialism and apartheid from the continent united the African states in the past, and the danger of the marginalisation of the continent in the global system makes the calls for further integration more urgent nowadays. Integration processes were supported by the donor organisations as well. The concept, which assumed crucial role of the regional hegemonic powers in the integration processes, was found valid only to a rather limited extent.
The fact that the establishment of the African Union took part without the goals set in the past being met could lead to a conclusion that it was a symbolic gesture only, which will not have any major impact on the situation on the continent. This conclusion would be supported by many cases of decisions and resolutions concerning the African integration, which were approved and not implemented.

Author Biography

Petr Jelínek




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