Transregional Comparative Lessons in Pursuit of Sustainable Development
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Werner Scholtz and Jonathan Verschuuren
Chapter 2: Introduction to regional environmental law of the African Union
The Organization of African Unity (OAU) came into existence on 25 May 1963 when the OAU Charter was signed by 32 African governments in Addis Ababa, an event that was strongly influenced by the decolonization process and which the OAU promised to pursue with absolute dedication under the banner of promoting the unity and solidarity of African states in the post-colonial era. The principles and purposes of the OAU placed special emphasis on the need for the defence of sovereignty and territorial integrity, the eradication of colonialism, the promotion of African unity and solidarity, non-interference in internal affairs, cooperation for defence and security, and the condemnation of subversive activities by neighbouring states. Adherence to the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) was also not forgotten. But in the end many objectives, most notably the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, became the sacrificial lambs in the interest of upholding, at all costs, the principles of territorial sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs. Economic development and the eradication of poverty on the continent were equally neglected, providing a cause for another desperate attempt at addressing these vital issues through the establishment in 1991 of the African Economic Community by the adoption of the Abuja Treaty, a sequel to the ambitious Lagos Plan of Action for the economic development of Africa, adopted by an extraordinary OAU Summit in 1980.
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