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The African Union Commission on International Law (AUCIL) was established on the basis of Article 5(2) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union as an advisory organ of the Union. At its Twelfth Session in February 2009, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Assembly of the Heads of States and Government (Assembly) adopted the Statute of the African Union Commission on International Law, by its Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.209 (XII).

The History of the AUCIL started with the fifth Ordinary session of the Executive Council vide Decision EX.CL/Dec.129(V) in July 2004 held in Addis Ababa. The meeting of experts on the review of OAU/AUTreaties proposed the need to establish an African Commission on International Law. The Executive Council took note of the proposal. The Assembly at its Fifth Ordinary Session in January 2005 held in Abuja, Nigeria reaffirmed this decision by virtue of Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.71(IV). The Assembly adopted the African Union Non-Aggression and Common Defence Pact, wherein the Member States undertook the task to establish the AUCIL under Article 14 of the Pact.

Objectives of the AUCIL

The establishment of the AUCIL was inspired by the common objectives and principles enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the African Union, notably Articles 3 and 4 which underscores the importance of accelerating the socio-economic development of the Continent through the promotion of research in all fields. It was also inspired by the common goal to strengthen and consolidate the principles of international law and to agree on common approaches to international legal development, as well as to continue to work towards maintaining standards in important areas of international law.

In line with Article 4 of the AUCIL Statute, the AUCIL shall have the following specific objectives:

  • To undertake activities relating to codification and progressive development of international law in the African continent with particular attention to the laws of the Union as embodied in the treaties of the Union, in the decisions of the policy organs of the Union and in African customary international law arising from the practice of Member States;
  • To propose draft framework agreements, model regulations, formulations and analyses of emerging trends in States’ practice to facilitate the codification and progressive development of international law
  • To assist in the revision of existing treaties, assist in the identification of areas in which new treaties are required and prepare drafts thereof;
  • To conduct studies on legal matters of interest to the Union and its Member States; and
  • To encourage the teaching, study, publication and dissemination of literature on international law in particular the laws of the Union with a view to promoting acceptance of and respect for the principles of international law, the peaceful resolution of conflicts, respect for the Union and recourse to its Organs, when necessary.