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ModernDiplomacy.eu: Time to Relocate to new Headquarter: Why the AU Must Consider a New Home

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Tuesday, 16 January 2024

Ethiopia's recent actions have not only contravened the foundational principles of the AU but have also cast a shadow over its ability to serve as a neutral ground for pan-African discourse.

 

The African Union (AU) has long stood as a symbol of unity and cooperation among African nations. Its headquarters, located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, are more than just a physical location; they represent the heart of the continent’s collective ambitions and struggles. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that Ethiopia, with its record of human rights violations and disregard for the AU’s principles of respecting other nations’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, is no longer a suitable host for the AU headquarter.

Ethiopia’s recent actions have not only contravened the foundational principles of the AU but have also cast a shadow over its ability to serve as a neutral ground for pan-African discourse and decision-making. The very essence of the AU is built on mutual respect and understanding among member states, principles that Ethiopia’s current regime seems to be flouting.

Ethiopia’s recent behavior, particularly its involvement in promoting secessionism, are deeply troubling. The country’s deal to recognize breakaway Somaliland is a clear violation of the AU’s principle of respecting the territorial integrity of its member states. This move not only undermines the spirit of African unity but also sets a dangerous precedent for the continent.

This situation demands a bold move: relocating the AU headquarters to a more fitting location. Nigeria and South Africa emerge as viable alternatives, both having the economic means and the political clout to host such a significant institution. These nations have shown a stronger commitment to upholding the values that the AU stands for, including human rights and the sanctity of national borders.

Nigeria, with its large economy and influential role in West Africa, offers a strategic position that could enhance the AU’s reach and effectiveness. Similarly, South Africa’s robust economy and its pivotal role in southern Africa make it an equally compelling choice. Both nations are well-equipped to provide the necessary infrastructure and political environment that the AU requires to function optimally.

The relocation of the AU headquarters is more than a mere change of address. It is a symbolic move that would reaffirm the organization’s commitment to its founding principles. It would send a strong message to the world that the AU is an entity that not only preaches democracy and human rights but also practices them.

The time has come for the African Union to seek a new home – one that aligns with its ideals and aspirations. Nigeria or South Africa could offer this new beginning, a fresh start in a location that respects and upholds the values that the AU stands for. It’s not just about finding a new building; it’s about rebuilding the trust and integrity that form the cornerstone of the AU’s mission.

Ismail D. Osman
Ismail D. Osman: Former Deputy Director of Somalia National Intelligence & Security Agency (NISA) – Writes in Somalia, Horn of Africa Security and Geopolitical focusing on governance and security. You can reach him osmando[at]gmail.com @osmando

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