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Flag of the Organisation of African Unity, later also used by the African Union.

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU or Organisation de l'Unité Africaine (OUA)) was established on May 25, 1963. It was disbanded July 9, 2002 by its last president South African Thabo Mbeki and replaced by the African Union.

Its intended purpose was to promote the unity and solidarity of the African States and act as a collective voice for the continent. It was also dedicated to the eradication of colonialism and established a Liberation Committee to aid independence movements.

Its headquarters were established at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the invitation of its emperor, Haile Selassie I. The Charter of the Organisation was signed by 32 independent African states. At the time of its disbanding, 53 out of the 54 countries in Africa were members; Morocco left in 1985 following the admission of Western Sahara in 1982.

Though widely derided as a bureaucratic "talking shop" with little power, Ghanaian United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan praised the OAU for bringing Africans together. Nevertheless, in its 39 years of existence critics argue that the OAU did little to protect the rights and liberties of African citizens from their own political leaders.

Autonomous specialised agencies working under the auspices of the OAU were:

  • Pan-African Telecommunications Union (PATU)
  • Pan-African Postal Union (PAPU)
  • Pan-African News Agency (PANA)
  • Union of African National Television and Radio Organisations (URTNA)
  • Union of African Railways (UAR)
  • Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU)
  • Supreme Council for Sports in Africa


  • "OAU After Twenty Years"; Pub. Praeger; ISBN 0030624738; (May 1984)
  • "Africa's First Peacekeeping Operation: The OAU in Chad, 1981-1982" by Terry M. Mays, Pub. Praeger; ISBN 0275976068; (April 30, 2002)
  • "African Exodus: Refugee Crisis, Human Rights, & the 1969 OAU Convention" by Chaloka Beyani, Chris Stringer, Pub. Lawyers Committee for Human Rights; ISBN 0934143730; (July 1995)
  • Report (http://cec.rwanda2.free.fr/doc/Rapport_OUA/Rwanda-f/oua.htm) on the Rwandan Genocide in 2000.

  Results from FactBites:
MSN Encarta - African Union (794 words)
The OAU mediated a border dispute between Algeria and Morocco in 1964 and 1965.
The OAU formed the African Liberation Committee in 1963 to channel financial support to movements trying to defeat Portuguese colonial rule in Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and Mozambique.
South Africa was excluded from OAU membership until 1994, when white minority rule and apartheid (the policy of racial segregation) ended.
  More results at FactBites »



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