The African Union (AU) is a continental union consisting of all 55 countries on the African continent. It was established on 26 May 2001 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and launched on 9 July 2002 in South Africa, with the aim of replacing the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The most important decisions of the AU are made by the Assembly of the African Union, a semi-annual meeting of the heads of state and government of its member states. The AU's secretariat, the African Union Commission, is based in Addis Ababa.
The African Union Commission
The Commission of the African Union acts as the executive/administrative branch or secretariat of the AU (and is somewhat analogous to the European Commission). It consists of a number of Commissioners dealing with different areas of policy. The Commission is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It should be distinguished from the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, (based in Banjul, Gambia), which is a separate body that reports to the African Union. It has eight Directorates, namely:
- Directorate of Peace and Security
- Directorate of Political Affairs
- Directorate of Infrastructure and Energy
- Directorate of Social Affairs
- Directorate of Human Resources, Science and Technology
- Directorate of Trade and Industry
- Directorate of Rural Economy and Agriculture
- Directorate of Economic Affairs
Department of Social Affairs
The Department works to promote the AU’s labour, social development and cultural agenda. Its core roles include: providing support for the implementation of Member States’ policies on labour, population, health and migration; developing programmes and strategies on drug control and other issues; and promoting AU instruments for advancing the social and solidarity agenda. The Department has five divisions: Health, Nutrition and Population; HIV/AIDs, Malaria, Tuberculosis and Other Infectious Diseases; Labour, Employment and Migration; Social Welfare, Vulnerable Groups and Drug Control; and Culture and Sport. It also hosts the Secretariat of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). See the Judicial and Human Rights Institutions chapter for details about ACERWC. The Department also works with the following two specialised offices: the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) and the Centre for Linguistic and Historical Studies by Oral Tradition (CELHTO).