The African Union Twenty Years On

There’s a widespread view that the African Union – and its bureaucracy – are glorified servants of African governments. There is no question that the African Union has its challenges. It is financially weak and dependent on external donors. It is often seen as a club of old men that is inaccessible to ordinary Africans. And it has implementation deficits, with its work sometimes held back by poorly governed states. Yet, the organisation is often at the heart of agenda-setting, decision-making, rule creation, policy development and strategic leadership for the African continent. It is, therefore, an oversimplification of the complex relationship between the African Union and its members to treat the pan-African bureaucracy as a mere servant of the continent’s governments. The African Union and its bureaucracy are neither glorified messengers nor docile followers of the orders of African governments.


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