Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Ben Saul
Chapter 42: Counter-terrorism and Pan-Africanism: From non-action to non-indifference
Security was catapulted to the fore of Pan-Africanism only after the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on 25 May 1963. Independence forced African states to concentrate on internal dynamics while the external aspects of living in a community were largely relegated to the OAU. The OAU provided an embryo for Pan-Africanism, political activism and a cult for the development, codification, propagation and protection of African norms. The prevalence of conflicts and political instability with spillover effects in the newly independent states underscored the primacy of security if the new community were to survive. For the first time, the new states committed to harmonize their policies on, inter alia, cooperation for defence and security. The Charter of the OAU also enumerated principles that member states should adhere to for promoting peace and security, which was limited to conflict management and resolution. The Charter however, fell short of addressing terrorism and never identified it as a threat to the continent, even though it had been a contested issue in the anti-colonial struggles. Colonial powers branded liberation fighters as terrorists and regarded the OAU as the political centre or an umbrella organization of terrorist groups. Africa’s initial understanding of the term ‘terrorism’ was therefore associated with colonialism. From this prism, terrorism was viewed as a colonial tool that was used to undermine the legitimate struggle against colonial oppression in Africa.
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