Building capacity to help Africa trade better

African Union Legal Resources and Policy Documents


African Union Legal Resources and Policy Documents

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African Union Legal Resources and Policy Documents

In their quest for unity, economic and social development, the 32 independent African states established the Organisation of African (OAU) on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As a vehicle to promote unity and solidarity, the OAU adopted various initiatives in many different areas which paved the way for the eventual establishment of the African Union (AU) as it exists today. For more information, please visit the AU website.

The Lagos Plan of Action and Final Act of Lagos were adopted by Heads of State and Government in April 1980 in Lagos, meeting at the Second Extraordinary Session dedicated devoted to the economic problems in Africa. This was followed by the adoption of the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community in 1991, which seeks to create an AEC through six stages culminating in an African Common Market, using the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as building blocks. The Treaty has been in operation since 1994.

pdf The Abuja Treaty: Infographic (124 KB)

pdf Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the AEC Relating to the Free Movement of Persons Right of Residence and Establishment, 29 January 2018 (3.80 MB)

Transition to the African Union

On 9 September 1999, the Heads of State and Government of the OAU issued the Sirte Declaration calling for the establishment of a new African Union. The vision for the AU was to accelerate the process of integration in Africa and support the empowerment of African states in the global economy while addressing the multifaceted social, economic and political problems facing the continent amidst increasing globalisation.

Following the Sirte Summit in 1999, three summits were held to facilitate the launch and implementation of the African Union. The Lomé Summit (2000) adopted the Constitutive Act of the African Union, which specifies the objectives, principles, and organs of the AU. The Lusaka Summit (2001) drew the road map for the implementation of the AU. Finally, the Durban Summit (2002) launched the AU and convened the First Assembly of Heads of States and Government.

pdf Solemn Declaration of the 50th AU Anniversary, May 2013 (2.30 MB)

Member States

The OAU was established with the 32 African states that had achieved independence at that time. Gradually, a further 21 members joined, reaching a total of 53 by the time of the AU’s creation in 2002. South Sudan became the 54th AU member in July 2011. Morocco, which had withdrawn from the OAU in 1984 following the organisation’s acceptance of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a member state, was reinstated during the 28th AU Summit in January 2017 as the newest member. As at 1 January 2018, the 55 AU member states are (in alphabetical order):

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic* (suspended since March 2013 pending re-establishment of constitutional order), Cape Verde, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, South Africa, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Latest documents

pdf 37th Assembly of the AU: Decisions, Declarations and Resolutions - Addis Ababa, 17-18 February 2024 (1.56 MB)

pdf Decisions of the 45th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council - Addis Ababa, 14-15 February 2024 (1.09 MB)

Treaties on Trade

The African Union (and preceded by the OAU) has developed various legal instruments (treaties, conventions, protocols and charters) in the area of trade, economic integration and development. These include the following:

pdf Status of signature and ratification as at 16 July 2019 (12 KB)

pdf Statute of the African Minerals Development Centre - 30 January 2016 (9.67 MB)

pdf Status of signature and ratification as at June 2019 (12 KB)

pdf Status of signature and ratification as at April 2016 (12 KB)

pdf Status of signature and ratification as at May 2019 (17 KB)

pdf Status of signature and ratification as at June 2017 (12 KB)

pdf Status of signature and ratification as at May 2019 (17 KB)

Visit the African Continental Free Trade Area webpage

Agenda 2063

Agenda 2063 is a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. It builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of, past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development, including the Lagos Plan of Action, The Abuja Treaty, the Minimum Integration Programme, PIDA, CAADP, the New partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Regional Plans and Programmes, and National Plans.

pdf Agenda 2063 Progress Report - November 2019 (464 KB)

The First Ten-Year Implementation Plan for Agenda 2063 builds upon the Agenda 2063 Framework Document adopted in January 2015, and seeks to accelerate Africa’s political, social, economic and technological transformation while continuing the Pan African drive for self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity.

pdf Agenda 2063 First Ten-Year Implementation Plan (FTYIP) 2014-2023 (2.04 MB)

The second continental-level report consolidates progress reports from 38 of the 55 AU Member States. The report analyses progress made on the implementation of Agenda 2063 against 2021 targets.

pdf Second Ten Year Implementation Plan 2024-2033 (Abridged version) (6.58 MB)

Visit the Agenda 2063 page

Institutional reform

In 2016, Rwandan President Paul Kagame was tasked with preparing a report on accelerating the ongoing reform of the African Union. The reform process was triggered by the objective to ensure improved performance of the AU systems in delivering on development programmes and transformative initiatives that will accelerate the attainment of the first ten-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063.

President Kagame appointed a pan-African advisory team to assist with the review, with whom he held a series of consultative meetings to identify the AU’s strengths and shortcomings, and consider proposals for reform. The outcomes report on the institutional reforms was presented to the 28th AU Summit in Addis Ababa on 29 January 2017.

pdf Report by President Paul Kagame on the Institutional Reform of the African Union - 37th African Union Summit, February 2024 (367 KB)


Financing the Union

The Decision on Financing of the Union was adopted by Heads of State and Government in a “Retreat on Financing of the Union” during the 27th AU Summit in Kigali in July 2016. The Decision directs all AU Member States to implement a 0.2% levy on eligible imports to finance the African Union. The Decision entered into operation in January 2017.

Financing the Union: Decision on the Outcome of the Retreat of the Assembly of the AU - July 2016

Visit the African Union Reforms page

New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)

NEPAD is the development agency of the African Union, coordinating and executing priority regional and continental development projects to promote regional integration towards the accelerated realisation of Agenda 2063. At the 31st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government in Nouakchott, Mauritania, in July 2018, a decision was officially adopted to transform the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NPCA) into the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD. The establishment of AUDA-NEPAD is part of the overall institutional reforms of the AU and a key outcome in order to champion and fast-track the implementation of AU decisions and development programmes.

Efforts were deployed in 2019 to operationalise AUDA-NEPAD through the development of the first Strategic Plan 2020-2023. The strategy aims to respond to current mega trends globally and within the African continent towards achieving Agenda 2063. Some of these (emerging) trends are a growing youthful population, vast mineral resource endowments, significant improvements in governance and business environments, a growing middle class, private sector investment growth, and progress in accessing and adapting to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

pdf AU Assembly Decision on the Report of the Chairperson of the NEPAD HSGOC - June 2014 (195 KB)

Trade-related policies and documents

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) mandate is to contribute towards making Africa a significant and competitive industrial and trading partner in the global economy. It supports Africa’s transformation by promoting diversification and modernisation of production structures. The DTI consists of three Directorates: Customs Cooperation, Trade and Industry. The AU initiatives in the trade sector are seen as key to inducing investments and pooling of African resources to enhance structural transformation and the development of regional value chains; boosting employment opportunities; increasing food security through reduction of trade barriers on agricultural products; and increasing the competitiveness of African industrial products through harnessing the economies of scale of a continental wide market.

Ministers’ Meeting: Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa, April 2007

Agriculture and development

The Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture’s mandate is to boost AU Member States’ rural economy development and agricultural productivity by supporting the adoption of measures, strategies, policies and programmes on agriculture. Key tasks include to develop programmes ensuring food security; promote rural communities’ initiatives and transfer of technologies; promote agricultural products by small-scale producers; and support the harmonisation of policies and strategies between the RECs.

pdf Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa - July 2003 (310 KB)

AU Heads of States and Government meeting in June 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, adopted two Decisions and two Declarations which directly relate to CAADP and Africa’s agricultural transformation and food security agenda in the 2015-2025 decade:

pdf Decision on the High Level Work Program on Climate Change Action in Africa (96 KB)

pdf Synthesis of the Malabo Declaration on African Agriculture and CAADP - June 2014 (717 KB)

Infrastructure and Energy

Infrastructure is Africa’s top priority. With low levels of intra-regional economic exchange and the smallest share of global trade, Africa is the least integrated continent in the world. Infrastructure inefficiencies are costing Africa billions of dollars annually and are stunting growth. Bridging this gap can only be achieved through regional and continental cooperation and solution finding. The AU Department of Infrastructure and Energy is responsible for ensuring the development of infrastructure and energy resources at the regional and continental levels.

pdf Zanzibar Declaration: Accelerating infrastructure to deliver on the AU Agenda 2063 aspirations | Fourth Ordinary Session of the STC-TTIIE - 15 September 2023 (255 KB)

pdf Infrastructure Development within the Context of Africa’s cooperation with new and emerging Development Partners, 2015 (4.75 MB)

pdf Resolution on the Africa Bioenergy Policy Framework and Guidelines - November 2012 (778 KB)

pdf African Regional Action Plan on the Knowledge Economy: A Framework for Action - August 2005 (345 KB)

The issue of Open Access and access to information is of growing international and regional concern. Properly implemented access to information legislation holds the promise of fostering good governance by improving information management, and by enhancing transparency, accountability and greater participation of the populace in public affairs.

pdf Methodological Guideline Integration of the Principles of the ACS and SHASA in the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics - December 2012 (235 KB)

The current Plans of Action for the Transport Sub-sectors (modes) were adopted in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in April 2014, by the Conference of African Ministers responsible for Transport covering the specific transport sub-sectors – civil aviation/air transport, railway transport, maritime transport, and road transport. In January 2018, the AU Commission launched the first Agenda 2063 Flagship project, the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

pdf 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy with Annexes - 2012 version (2.04 MB)

pdf Progress Report on Implementation of Tourism Action Plan - April 2019 (168 KB)

Cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations

Cooperation between the AU and the UN has greatly intensified in recent years, as demonstrated by numerous collaborative efforts in conflict prevention, mediation, and peacebuilding. The Declaration on Enhancing UN-AU Cooperation and Framework for the Ten-Year Capacity Building Programme was signed on 16 November 2006. Subsequently, the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) was established in 2010 with the mandate to enhance the UN-AU partnership.


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