The organisation of African Unity (OAU) and peacemaking in the 1990's

This brief report describes the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) as a continental peacemaker and explains its inability to advance peace in Africa, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, when Africa was plagued by a series of conflicts. Since its inception in 1963, the OAU has proclaimed itself as the primary agency to intervene in African conflicts, and although it appears to have been written off as an instrument of peace-making, and despite its limitations, it maintains regional order and stability by providing principles for interstate relations. The OAU has evolved to contain ideological divisions in Africa, especially between the Pan-Africanists and the “statists”. Its principles were therefore compromised between unity and independence. The OAU does not exist primarily to act but to limit actions that undermine regional peace and order. African leadership is realizing the threat to regional security posed by internal fractures, which also reflects emerging international consensus that the international community has a duty to intervene on humanitarian grounds in domestic conflicts. Yet misery in Africa demands broader international intervention, as well as resources which the OAU does not have, and the OAU’s future in peacemaking seems complementary to the framework of the United Nations and the Commonwealth.