Support for the African Union
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission
© dpa / picture alliance
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is the first woman to hold the most important office in the African Union. Foreign Minister Westerwelle sent congratulations to the South African on her election as Chairperson of the African Union Commission. The German Government supports the African Union in its efforts to mediate in various conflicts on the continent as well as to promote sustainable development, good governance, peace and security.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was elected to the office of Chairperson of the African Union Commission at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa on 15 July. She thus succeeds Gabon’s Jean Ping, who had been in the position since 2008. The Commission is the secretariat and executive organ of the AU; in addition to the Chairperson there are eight Commissioners.
Increasing importance of the AU
Foreign Minister Westerwelle expressed his confidence that Dlamini-Zuma would “foster the close working relationship that exists between Germany, the European Union and the African Union” and assured the AU of Germany’s continuing support: “The more actively the continent takes its fate into its own hands, the better it will be for our neighbours in Africa and the better it will be for us in Europe.” In the face of all the challenges, the AU had achieved progress in recent years, said Westerwelle, acknowledging the organization’s increased importance: “The African Union is playing an ever more important role in conflict resolution and the promotion of democracy and good governance in Africa.”
The African Union has 54 members, meaning all countries of the African continent are represented, except Morocco, which does not belong to the AU because of the conflict over the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic, which many states do not recognize. The AU was founded in 2002 as the successor to the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and is responsible for crisis prevention, conflict management and peacekeeping on the continent. Its aim is to build up a comprehensive Peace and Security Architecture in Africa resting on the following pillars: Peace and Security Council, continent-wide early-warning system, Panel of the Wise, African Standby Force and Peace Facility for Africa.
Capacity building im times of crisis
There are a few trouble spots worrying the African Union just now: developments in Mali, where the situation has been unstable since a coup in March and the north of the country is controlled by Islamist groups, or the situation in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where rebels are attacking the army and UN troops, give cause for concern. Furthermore, the AU is mediating between Sudan and South Sudan in an attempt to clarify issues unresolved since South Sudan achieved independence just over a year ago.
Laying of the foundation stone with German support
The European Union and Germany cooperate closely with the AU (the AU and EU Commissions meet regularly, for instance) and support it with capacity-building. The German Government views the African Peace and Security Architecture as the guiding strategy for future initiatives. It aims to help the AU to strengthen its peace and security capacities and to develop early-warning mechanisms. It is also intended to enhance the institutional capacities of the main organs of the AU. To this end, for example, the Federal Foreign Office is providing around 27 million euros towards the construction of a new building for the AU in Addis Ababa, part of which will be occupied by the Department of Peace and Security of the African Union Commission. The building is likely to be ready in 2013.
Last updated 17.07.2012