Summary of 27th African Union Summit

16 August 2017, 3:22 PM

Greetings of peace and blessing from URI-Africa. This is to share with you that The Republic of Rwanda hosted the 27th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) from July 10-18, 2017, the theme of which is "2016: Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women".

The Assembly took place in the newly constructed Convention Center in the capital city of Kigali. Colorful visuals adorned major streets with messages that popularized the vision of the AU development framework known as Agenda 2063. 

The Summit officially kicked off on July, 13 2016 with the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) with a call for Solidarity, Pan-Africanism, Self-Reliance and Independence for a United Africa. The PRC is made up of Ambassadors of AU Member States, and discusses agenda items in preparation for AU Summits, which is submitted to the Executive Council for adoption.

July 13, 2016

The 29th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council started on July 13, 2016. The Ministers of External Affairs and other ministers or authorities designated by the governments of AU Member States deliberated on the different reports of the Specialized Technical Committee (STCs) ministerial meetings organized by the AU Commission during the last six months.

July 17-18, 2016

The 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union took place on July 17-18, 2016 with the presence and participation of H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union; H.E. Mr. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commissioner and the eight AU Commissioners. A group photo of the Heads of States was taken after the opening ceremony of the Summit.

The Summit concluded with the election of the Chair of the AU Commission, the deputy and 8 Commissioners.

The African Passport

Aspirations 2 and 7 of Agenda 2063 respectively underscore an Africa that is 'integrated' and 'united', and the unveiling of the African Union's African Passport during the Summit realizes this key plank of Agenda 2063, which emphasizes greater continental integration and popularizes Pan-African unity. 

Freedom of movement has been a longstanding focus among Member States, as enshrined in previous agreements such as the 1991 Abuja Treaty, which established the African Economic Community. Common passports have already been adopted in several regions, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

The electronic African passport will be available to the first group of beneficiaries that include: AU Heads of State and Government; Ministers of Foreign Affairs; and the Permanent Representatives of AU Member States based at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The passport will be available to AU citizens, including those in the Diaspora from Member States, by 2018. The national and regional passports will be replaced by the African passport.

Meeting this milestone is designed to facilitate free movement of persons, goods and services around the continent in order to foster intra-Africa trade, integration and socio-economic development.

The African passport will eliminate the need for travel permits or visas, which are often granted after a lengthy and rigorous appraisal. 

The Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr. Dlamini Zuma, described this initiative as both symbolic and significant, calling it a "steady step toward the objective of creating a strong, prosperous and integrated Africa, driven by its own citizens and capable of taking its rightful place on the world stage."

Written By

URI Director of Global Partnerships, URI Representative at the UN and the African Union, URI-Africa Regional Director, Former Ambassador