The advent of the African Union (AU) can be described as an event of great magnitude in the institutional evolution of the continent.
On September 9, 1999, the Heads of State and Government of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) issued a declaration (the Sirte Declaration) calling for the establishment of an African Union, with a view, inter alia, to accelerating the process of integration in the continent to enable it play its rightful role in the global economy while addressing multifaceted social, economic and political problems compounded as they are by certain negative aspects of globalisation.
The main objectives of the OAU were, inter alia, to rid the continent of the remaining vestiges of colonization and apartheid; to promote unity and solidarity among African States; to coordinate and intensify cooperation for development; to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states and to promote international cooperation within the framework of the United Nations.
Indeed, as a continental organization the OAU provided an effective forum that enabled all member states to adopt coordinated positions on matters of common concern to the continent in international fora and defend the interests of Africa effectively.
Through the OAU Coordinating Committee for the Liberation of Africa, the Continent worked and spoke as one with undivided determination in forging an international consensus in support of the liberation struggle and the fight against apartheid.