Building capacity to help Africa trade better

African Union Legal Resources and Policy Documents


African Union Legal Resources and Policy Documents

Registration to the tralac website is required to download resources documents.

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.

  • Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development of Africa (1980-2000) (277 KB)
  • Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (the Abuja Treaty) - June 1991 (145 KB)
  • The Abuja Treaty: Infographic (124 KB)
  • Protocol on Relations between the AEC and the RECs, 27 June 2008 with signatures (1.44 MB)
  • Protocol on Relations Between the AEC and the Regional Economic Communities - 25 February 1998 (143 KB)
  • Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the AEC Relating to the Pan-African Parliament - 2 March 2001 (24 KB)
  • 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.

  • Constitutive Act of the African Union - Lomé, 2000 (PDF, 132 KB)
    • Arabic (PDF, 1.73 MB)
    • French (PDF, 145 KB)
  • Solemn Declaration of the 50th AU Anniversary - May 2013 (PDF, 1.21 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, 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.

  • 33rd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly: Decisions, Declarations, Resolution and Motion - Addis Ababa, February 2020

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:

  • Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area - 21 March 2018
  • Statute of the African Minerals Development Centre - 30 January 2016
  • Protocol on the Establishment of the African Monetary Fund - 27 June 2014
  • Niamey Convention on Cross-Border Cooperation, 27 June 2014
  • Protocol on the African Investment Bank - 30 June 2009
  • African Charter of Statistics, 4 February 2009
  • Inter-African Convention Establishing an African Technical Co-operation Programme - 1 August 1975
  • Constitution of the Association of African Trade Promotion Organizations - 18 January 1974

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.

  • Agenda 2063: Popular version - Final edition, April 2015
  • Framework Document, September 2015
  • Agenda 2063 Progress Report - November 2019

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.

  • First Continental Report on the Implementation of Agenda 2063, February 2020
  • Agenda 2063 First Ten-Year Implementation Plan (FTYIP) 2014-2023

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.

  • The Imperative to Strengthen Our Union: Report on the Proposed Recommendations for the Institutional Reform of the African Union
  • Building a more relevant African Union: Report - January 2017
  • Decision on the Outcome of the Retreat of the Assembly of the African Union on the Institutional Reform of the AU (with Annex) - January 2017
  • Report on the Implementation of the Decision on the Institutional Reform of the African Union (Paul Kagame) - July 2017
  • Decision on the Progress Report on the Implementation of the Institutional Reform of the AU - July 2018
  • African Union Administrative Reform Roadmap 2018-2021
  • Feuille de Route Relative a la Reforme Administrative de l’Union Africaine 2018-2021

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: Towards the financial autonomy of the African Union - Status Report, June 2020
  • Financing the Union: Status report - update, January 2020
  • Communiqué of the Meeting of AU Finance Ministers - August 2017
  • Background Paper on Implementing the Kigali Decision on Financing the Union - September 2016
  • 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.

  • APAYE: African Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment 2019-2023
  • 2019 AUDA-NEPAD Annual Report
  • AU Assembly Decision on the Transformation of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency into the African Union Development Agency - July 2018
  • AU Assembly Decision on the Report of the Chairperson of the NEPAD HSGOC - June 2014

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.

  • AU Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan 2022-2032
  • Tax Transparency in Africa 2020: Africa Initiative Progress Report, 2019
  • 10th meeting of African Ministers of Trade: Declaration on WTO issues - 14 December 2019
  • Abidjan Declaration on the Critical role of industrialization in economic transformation of African economies, March 2017 (443 KB)
  • Trade and investment for decent work, April 2017 (553 KB)
  • From Barriers to Bridges: Report of the 8th AU Sub-Committee of Directors General of Customs meeting, November 2016 (488 KB)
  • Declaration on the African Union Border Programme and measures for its consolidation, October 2016 (84 KB)
  • Trade in services: Case studies from Africa, December 2015 (10.12 MB)
  • African Union Commission Africa Business Directory 2015 (4.93 MB)
  • Ministers of Trade Addis Ababa Declaration on WTO Issues, October 2013 (276 KB)
  • Ministers of Trade Declaration on the AGOA, October 2013 (238 KB)
  • Ministers of Trade Declaration on the EPAs, October 2013 (274 KB)
  • African Integration Fund: Draft feasibility study, October 2013 (2.82 MB)
  • Proposal for a Common and Enhanced Trade Preference System for LDCs and Low Income Countries, May 2012 (126 KB)
  • African Medicines Agency Legal Framework - revised January 2017
  • African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization Initiative: Annual Report 2017
  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa Business Plan, November 2012 (3.12 MB)
  • Ministers’ Meeting: Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa, April 2007 (142 KB)

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.

  • The Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization: A Framework for Africa (FAO/AUC, 2018)
  • Post-Harvest Loss Management Strategy, August 2018
  • NEPAD Agribusiness Strategy and Flagship Programme
  • A guide for implementation of the policy framework and reform strategy for fisheries and aquaculture in Africa, July 2015
  • Policy framework and reform strategy for fisheries and aquaculture in Africa, 2014
  • Common African Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, January 2014
  • CAP on Post-2015 Development Agenda booklet, March 2014
  • Draft Declaration on Employment, Poverty Eradication and Inclusive Development in Africa, September 2014
  • Abuja Declaration on Development of Agribusiness and Agro-Industries in Africa, March 2010
  • Sirte Declaration on Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security, July 2009
  • Sirte Declaration on Challenges of Implementing Integrated and Sustainable Development in Agriculture and Water in Africa, February 2004
  • Declaration on Employment and Poverty Alleviation in Africa, September 2004
  • Plan of Action for the Promotion of Employment and Poverty Alleviation, 2004
  • Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa, July 2003

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:

  • Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods
  • Declaration on Nutrition Security for Inclusive Economic Growth & Sustainable Development in Africa
  • Decision on the Report of the Chairperson of the NEPAD HSGOC
  • Decision on the High Level Work Program on Climate Change Action in Africa
  • Second Biennial Review Report of the AUC on the Implementation of the Malabo Declaration - February 2020
  • Second Biennial Review Report of the AUC on the Implementation of the Malabo Declaration (French) - February 2020
  • Synthesis of the Malabo Declaration on African Agriculture and CAADP, June 2014
  • Inaugural Biennial Review Report Implementation of the Malabo Declaration: 2017 Progress Report to the Assembly – Highlights on Intra-African trade for agriculture commodities and services, January 2018

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.

  • 16 Infrastructure Projects for African Integration, August 2016
  • One-Stop Border Posts (OSBP) Sourcebook 2nd Edition, May 2016
  • Infrastructure Development within the Context of Africa’s cooperation with new and emerging Development Partners, 2015

Energy: The Energy sector Plans of Action cover key areas including energy technologies, policies, regulations and infrastructure development. There are several on-going projects at the continental and regional levels including PIDA, the AfDB New Deal on Energy, and the following:

  • AUC Bioenergy Programme Development in Africa 2010-2016
  • African Energy Commission Report on AFREC Activities to the STC, March 2017
  • Africa Bioenergy Policy Framework and Guidelines, August 2013
  • Resolution on the Africa Bioenergy Policy Framework and Guidelines, November 2012

Information Society: In the emerging markets of Africa, the potential of communications technology to advance economic growth and deliver social benefits is arguably greater than anywhere else in the world. Full and inclusive access to information and communication technology (ICT) services has the potential to generate economic growth and wider social benefits, such as more competitive economies, socially inclusive growth, and more equitable development.

  • Science Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024
  • The Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa (2020-2030)
  • AU Declaration on Internet Governance and Development of Africa’s Digital Economy - January 2018
  • Guidelines on the harmonized use of the digital dividend in Africa: Policy, technical and regulatory procedures - November 2017
  • French
  • 9th African Union Private Sector Forum Report: Accelerating Africa’s Industrialization through Digitization & Youth Technopreneurship, 13-15 November 2017
  • Strategic Framework for Communication and Information Technology Development in Africa: The Comprehensive ICT Strategy for Africa 2015-2025
  • AU Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection - 27 June 2014
  • Conference of African Ministers in Charge of Communication and Information Technologies (CITMC): Abuja Declaration - August 2010
  • CITMC Oliver Tambo Declaration - November 2009
  • Report on the Conference of Ministers of Telecommunications and Posts - June 2008
  • CITMC Cairo Declaration - May 2008
  • CITMC Report of Ministers’ Meeting, Cairo - May 2008
  • Reference Framework for Harmonisation of Telecommunication, ICT Policies and Regulation in Africa - May 2008
  • Plan of Action for the Development of the Postal Sector in Africa - May 2008
  • CITMC Report and Declaration adopted in Cairo - April 2006
  • African Regional Action Plan on the Knowledge Economy: A Framework for Action - August 2005

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.

  • Model Law on Access to Information - April 2013
  • African Platform on Access to Information Declaration - September 2011
  • Economic Benefits of Open Data in Africa - AfDB, March 2017
  • Regional Anti-Corruption Programme for Africa 2011-2016
  • African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption - July 2003
  • 3rd STC on Finance: Progress Report on Statistical Development in Africa - January 2019
  • African Statistical Yearbook 2017 - AfDB, AUC and UNECA
  • African Charter of Statistics - February 2009
  • African Charter on Statistics: Status list as at June 2017
  • Standards and Guidelines for the Implementation of the African Charter on Statistics - December 2012
  • Model Statistics Law in the Context of the African Charter on Statistics - 2016
  • Methodological Guideline Integration of the Principles of the ACS and SHASA in the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics - December 2012

Transport: The AU transport programme aims at ensuring that the Transport Sector contributes to the attainment of AU Agenda 2063 aspirations. In reaching this goal, the Department of Infrastructure and Energy is taking the following key actions: i) Harmonisation of sector policies, standards and regulations; ii) Facilitating development of infrastructure in major regional transport corridors; iii) Alignment of the activities of the department with AU Agenda 2063 aspirations; and iv) Monitoring and facilitation of implementation of policies, strategies and major continental integration infrastructure projects.

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).

  • Progress Report on Implementation of Transport Plans of Action, March 2017
  • Transport Policy Paper: Delivering sustainable transport for realising AU Agenda 2063, February 2017
  • Decision on the Adoption and Implementation of the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (2050 AIM Strategy), January 2014
  • 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy with Annexes, 2012 version

Tourism: The AUC is pursuing the formulation and implementation of a continental tourism policy and strategic framework in the context of Agenda 2063, whose goal is to make Africa the most preferred tourist destination in the World as well as market Africa's tourism attractions in cross-border packages under a “Brand Africa” of tourism products and services; and Harmonisation of policy, strategic and regulatory frameworks for the tourism sector aligned with the AU/NEPAD Tourism Action Plan and the 2014 Seychelles Communique with the AU Continental Tourism framework.

  • African Tourism Strategic Framework 2019-2028: Executive Summary
  • Rationale for the Continental Tourism Framework and African Tourism Organisation - April 2019
  • Progress Report on Implementation of Tourism Action Plan - April 2019

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.

  • Decision on the Framework for a Renewed UN-AU Partnership on Africa’s Integration and Development Agendas, 2017-2027
  • Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security, April 2017
  • UN Ten-Year Capacity Building Programme 2nd Triennial Review, March 2014
  • Review of the Ten-Year Capacity Building Programme for the AU: Report of the UN Secretary General, February 2011
  • UN-AU Cooperation Framework for the TYCBP First Triennial Review, 2006-2009
  • Cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union: Resolution adopted by UN General Assembly, September 2009
  • Letter and Declaration on Enhancing UN-AU Cooperation Framework for the Ten Year Capacity Building Programme, November 2006


Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel +27 21 880 2010