By Prof. Hajer GUELDICH
Prof Hajer GUELDICH introduces our special African Journal of International and Comparative Law Virtual issue on the anniversary of the African Union. This issue is free to access on the Edinburgh University Press journals website until 31 May 2023.
Cognisant of its massive and indelible contribution to law from a Pan-African perspective, through the publication of articles on both public and private international law either in French or English as well as recent developments relevant to the African continent, this candle bearer of African international law has opted to make its reputation, pedigree and expertise available in favour of the African Union (AU), on the occasion of the AU’s 20th anniversary through a virtual issue. Being a collection of articles already published by the Journal, which focused on various aspects of the AU and taking stock of the current challenges the AU faces particularly in a post COVID-19 era, it is no naysay that the framework and timing are adequate and soothing for the particular occasion of the anniversary of the AU, in order to boost, revamp and reaffirm the AU’s firm commitment to attain its objectives.
Created on 9 July 2002 in Durban, South Africa, in accordance with the Sirte Declaration of 9 September 1999, forerunner of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, the AU -as a regional organisation- has since its creation played a pivotal role in the regulation, management and resolution of the stakes and challenges affecting the various aspects of the daily functioning of the African continent.
Amidst its multivariate and multi-scalar challenges such as terrorism, regional integration and financial constraints, the AU has been able to either provide both legal and institutional responses to entirely or partially curb these incongruences.
Although the African Union is not yet an organisation of integration and in spite of the fact that we can’t find a single entry for a Jus Africanum gentium in Google, there is a specific and recognizable ‘African public international law’” or a sort of “Emergent African Union Law”, a kind of a “Sui generis Legal order” that is evolving in Africa, especially in the fields of Human rights, Rule of Law and Good governance. Behind the emergence of the AU legal order, there the need to find and implement collective solutions to common problems and challenges peculiar to the African Continent, inter alia, terrorism, insecurity, discrimination, poverty, totalitarism, unconstitutional changement of governments, corruption, etc.
Moreover, African states succeeded in playing a role in the development of International law. They succeeded in consolidating specific principles of International law in such a way as to see the emergence of a real African continental law that is still in progress.
The most recent of such responses is the entry in force of the AfCFTA, in January 2021, which has come to solidify and consolidate the AU’s drive towards regional integration, a bold step capable of laying the foundation for the establishment of an AU passport and a regional currency.
Thus, the construction of a “politically united” Africa is one of the major axes of the African Union’s integration project, illustrated in its 2063 Agenda. On one hand, Africa places economic and political integration at the forefront of its objectives and priority areas for the first ten years of its agenda. On the other hand, it can only achieve this through the sharing of experiences that takes account of the symbiosis that exists between the different integration processes and that is inspired either by the idea of the proliferation or coexistence of regional integration organisations or that of the harmonisation and coordination of national policies emerging from the sub-regional treaties.
It is still early to confirm that we are in front of a federal process whose aim is to build an African model of integration. However, this was the dream of the the founding fathers of pan-africanism. And this is still possible to be reached if the new generations are more connected together and if there is a strong political will of the African Leaders to reach the goals clearly announced in Agenda 2063. It is equally worth noting that the institutional reform ongoing in the AU is worthy of appreciation by virtue of the envisaged outcome it is to bring.
In contemporary times, where the African continent is constantly faced with trying and tempting circumstances, notably the COVID-19, whose repercussions cut across all spheres and works of life on the African continent, thereby putting the AU’s response mechanisms to the test. A show of solidarity and support to the AU in such times is an immense motivation to the AU’s march towards success. In another birth, taking into account the fact that the African continent’s image needs to be elevated in order to enable it have a concrete opinion in global and international affairs, this initiative is well thought.
This virtual issue is expected, amongst other, to enlighten legal minds, students, professors, experts and researchers on the depth and magnitude of the AU’s work, since its creation. It could equally be expected that this will be the beginning of a series of efforts aimed at sensitising the world on the bi-product of the AU’s work.
Written January 2022, by Prof. Hajer GUELDICH, Full Professor at the University of Carthage, Elected member and Current Chairperson of the African Union International Law Commission (AUCIL).
Discover the African Union Anniversary Virtual Issue, free to access until end of May, 2023.
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