The Assembly is the African Union’s (AU’s) supreme organ and comprises Heads of State and Government from all Member States. It determines the AU’s policies, establishes its priorities, adopts its annual programme and monitors the implementation of its policies and decisions.
The Assembly is mandated to accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the African continent. It may give directives to the AU Executive Council and Peace and Security Council on the management of conflicts, war, acts of terrorism, emergency situations and the restoration of peace. The AU Constitutive Act provides for the Assembly to decide on intervention in or sanctions against Member States in specific circumstances. The Assembly delegated this mandate to the Peace and Security Council when it became operational in 2004.
In addition, the Assembly:
• Appoints the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission
• Appoints the Commission Commissioners and determines their functions and terms of office
• Considers requests for AU membership
• Adopts the AU budget
• Receives, considers and takes decisions on reports and recommendations from the other AU organs
• Establishes new committees, specialised agencies, commissions and working groups as it deems necessary.
Under the Rules of Procedure, it may also:
• Amend the Constitutive Act in conformity with the laid down procedures
• Interpret the Constitutive Act (pending the establishment of the Court of Justice)
• Approve the structure, functions and regulations of the Commission
• Determine the structure, functions, powers, composition and organisation of the Executive Council.
The Assembly may delegate its powers and functions to other African Union organs as appropriate.
Provisions governing the Assembly’s composition, functions and powers, voting and procedures are contained in articles 6 to 9 of the Act. Section 1, rule 4, of the Rules of Procedure elaborates further on the Assembly’s functions and powers.
The AU Assembly is the successor to the earlier Assembly of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which was established in 1963. The OAU Assembly initially consisted of 32 Member States, all of which had achieved independence by 1963. A further 21 states joined gradually over the years, reaching a total of 53 by the time of the AU’s creation in 2002. Morocco withdrew from the OAU in 1984. South Sudan joined the AU as its 54th member on
27 July 2011.