The African Union (AU) is an intergovernmental organization with 53 member states (cf. below) that was established on 9 July 2002 and succeeded the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The Assembly of the African Union is the semi-annual meeting of the heads of state and government of its member states. The AU's secretariat is called the African Union Commission (it will be renamed as African Union Authority). It is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and acts as the executive and administrative branch of the AU. It must be distinguished from the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. The main objectives of the AU are to accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent; to promote and defend African common positions; to achieve peace and security in Africa; and to promote democratic institutions, good governance and human rights.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, based in Banjul, Gambia, is a subsidiary organisation, reporting to the African Union. It is tasked with promoting and protecting human rights and peoples' rights throughout the African continent.
Its main legal text of reference is the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights that entered into force 1986. The Commission interprets the Charter and considers individual complaints of violations of the Charter.
The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights is a regional court that rules on African Union states' compliance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.
As of 1 December 2009, the African Union member states are:
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, The Congo, The Democratic Republic Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, The Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Swaziland, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, The Sudan, Tunisia, The United Republic of Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia, Zimbabwe