Thursday, August 06, 2020


Article Index

VI. African Institutions

A. African Union

The 16th African Union (AU) Summit took place on January 24-31, 2011 in Addis Ababa under the banner, Towards Greater Unity and Integration Through Shared Values and the leadership of Teodoro Obiang, president of Equatorial Guinea. While the electoral standoff in the Ivory Coast commanded much attention at the summit, AU leaders also weighed in on Kenya's request to delay the trial of six Kenyan public figures indicted by the ICC on charges of fomenting post-election violence during 2007-2008. The AU's endorsement of Kenya's position topped off an intense lobbying effort by Kenya to try the suspects locally under a new constitutional framework forged after the recent political unrest. The AU reiterated its contention that the principle of universal jurisdiction was being used to disproportionately target African states before the ICC, and again called for prosecutors to suspend proceedings against President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan.

After initially criticizing the NATO campaign during the ultimately successful Libyan uprising and a failed attempt to broker a ceasefire between rebel leaders and the Gaddafi regime, the AU eventually recognized Libya's new transitional government on September 20 following a period of cautious observation.

The 17th AU Summit, held from June 23 to July 1 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, and officially dedicated to the theme Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development, was preceded by mass arrests allegedly intended to stave off pro-democracy protests in the West African capital. The assembly of AU heads of state welcomed the Republic of Southern Sudan as the newest member of the AU and expressed approval of the democratic political reforms initiated in Egypt and Tunisia that followed popular uprisings in those nations. The assembly also renewed a call to have Hissene Habre tried either in Senegal, where the former leader of Chad has been residing for over two decades, or extradited to another jurisdiction, such as Belgium, to face charges stemming from the torture of political opponents during his dictatorship.

Vernellia R. Randall
Founder and Editor
Professor Emerita of Law
The University of Dayton School of Law