A "culture of conservatism" : How and why African Union member states obstruct the deepening of integration (21 pages)

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during the AU Accra Summit in mid-2007 (African Union 2007), even
though most governments factually refused the implementation of this
declaration. The first loophole African leaders saw, was to refer the
matter to a committee (African Union 2007), and later on to point to an
infringement of the Constitutive Act with the declaration on the United
States of Africa (African Union 2009). The AU Commission subse-
quently suggested that instead of forming the Union Government, the
AU Commission should be transformed into an AU Authority with more
power than the Commission (African Union 2009). The debate provoked
by this proposal became wedged in the question of whether the AU
Constitutive Act had to be amended for the realisation of the AU
Authority. With Gaddafi leaving the AU chair in 2010, and with his
death in mid-2011, the debate effectively stopped, and only very few
people in the member states and the AU regret the abandoning of the


One might wonder why AU member states have endorsed the

Accra Declaration initially even though they are in fact against it. With
reference to Mauritius, an observer noted that the island state sup-
ported the declaration only "because there's no immediate danger of it
happening. And there’s really no opportunity cost in terms of support-
ing it at a theoretical level, while it's still so far down the track, whereas
there may be some immediate opportunity costs in [...] being seen to
vociferously oppose it".


This plausible explanation can certainly be

applied to several AU members, particularly smaller and less influential
states, including those who had been receiving financial aid from Libya.

With regard to unconstitutional change of government, the AU

has adopted a strict policy and automatically suspends the effected
member state from the organisation. While this is seen as an achieve-
ment, there remain some AU member states governed by leaders who
seized power through unconstitutional means but are not criticised by
the AU for this. Moreover, there are different approaches between
regional economic communities and the AU in their dealings with un-
constitutional change of government. Unlike in the case of Mali, where
the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also
suspended Mali from its organisation after a coup d'état as the AU had
done, the coup in the Central African Republic in March 2013 resulted
in no suspension of the country from the Economic Community of
Central African States (ECCAS). In fact, ECCAS — and most notably
Chad — did little to prevent the coup (see Meyer 2013). Regional

Strategic Review for Southern Africa, Vol 36, No 1 Martin Welz

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