37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union

Apr 26, 2024 | Articles, Publications |

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37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.

The 37th Summit of the African Union, an organisation that brings together 55 countries of the African continent, was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 17 and 18 February. This meeting is the 37th ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union. The Assembly is the supreme policy and decision-making body of the AU. It is composed of all Heads of State and Government of the Member States.

The Assembly determines the AU’s policies, sets its priorities, adopts its annual programme and oversees the implementation of its policies and decisions. The central theme of the meeting was “Educating for the 21st Century: Building Resilient Education Systems to Increase Access to Quality and Relevant Inclusive Learning in Africa”.

Members and guests present

Forty-nine African countries participated in the Summit. Thirty of them were heads of state and government and the rest were vice-presidents and other high-level officials. As invited members, leaders of 6 non-African nations and heads of 13 international organisations were present. Among them were Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abulgeit, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the Arab League and representatives of other organisations. Israel, which wanted to present its views on the Gaza war, was not allowed to participate.

Themes and issues addressed

  Educating for the 21st century:

  • The need to build resilient education systems for greater access to inclusive, lifelong, quality and relevant learning: increasing the continent’s literacy rates, but also improving the conditions of teachers, taking advantage of ICT capabilities to facilitate access to quality education, accelerating gender equity processes in education, strengthening the study of science and mathematics and promoting education for peace, among other points.
  • Digital transformation of Africa.

   Geopolitics:

  • Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip: The Summit expressed the African community’s unanimous rejection of Israel’s offensive in Gaza. Moussa Faki said Israel’s offensive was the “most flagrant” violation of international humanitarian law and accused Israel of having “exterminated” Gazans.
  • Statement rejecting the US economic blockade of Cuba.
  • Brazil’s President Lula Da Silva gave the opening speech, stressing the need to strengthen relations with the countries of the continent by strengthening diplomatic and commercial ties. “I come to reaffirm the partnership and the bond of our country and our people with this sister continent. Africa’s struggles have much in common with Brazil’s challenges. We, Africans and Brazilians, must chart our own paths in the emerging international order…”. -Regional integration: He emphasised the importance of creating strong regional and continental platforms: “These platforms are essential to address national development challenges from geopolitical, logistical and security points of view and praised the African Union for its accession to the G20, considering it “an important milestone” on the world stage.

    Armed conflicts in Africa and the struggle for peace:

  • Issues related to armed conflicts within the continent were addressed with concern and different positions:
  1. Conflicts such as the one in Sudan between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF)
  2. New advances in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by the powerful rebel group March 23 Movement (M23), which Kinshasa accuses of being backed by neighbouring Rwanda.
  3. A commitment to dialogue to mitigate tensions between the coup juntas that lead Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali and the rest of the countries in the region.
  • Progress, challenges and prospects for the continent’s development and a pressing need for increased commitment to achieving the goals of Agenda 2063 “for a transformed and prosperous Africa”.
  • Ensure food sovereignty on the continent.

The Assembly

Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, HE Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, HE Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the Prime Minister of Palestine, HE Mohammad Shyyyeh, and the outgoing President of the Union, the President of the Union of Comoros, HE Azali Assoumani.

The need for renewed efforts to improve the conditions of violence and armed conflict on the continent and to achieve peace and security for all Africans was strongly emphasised.

On the international scene, the rejection of Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip was strongly marked, so much so that the Israeli delegation tried to present its views on the Gaza war, but the African Union (AU) did not allow this group to participate in its 37th Summit in Addis Ababa. In addition, the rejection of the decades-old US economic blockade of Cuba was declared for the first time.

On the other hand, much emphasis was placed on the need for the continent’s countries to have a greater presence on the international stage as a bloc. Both from the speeches of African leaders and invited members. This was the case of Lula Da Silva, who expressed his support for greater relations with the countries of the continent, strengthening diplomatic and commercial ties. The Assembly once again called for the African Union to become a permanent member of the United Nations.

Education, sustainable development, peace, progress, technological transformation and food sovereignty were the themes that appeared in most of the opening speeches and in the different instances of the Summit. Regional integration and cooperation with other blocs also featured strongly on the Assembly’s agenda. Undoubtedly an important point of the summit was the launch of the Second Ten-Year Implementation Plan of the AU Agenda 2063: “The Africa we want”, which sets out the main guidelines for development and integration.

Information sheet

Organisation / Organisation: African Union (International Organisation)

Description: The African Union (AU) is a continental body made up of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African continent. It was officially launched in 2002 as the successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU, 1963-1999). Mission: To promote Africa’s economic growth and development by advocating citizen inclusion and greater cooperation and integration of African states. Summit: The 37th Ordinary Summit was held on 17-18 February 2024. This is the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union. The Assembly is the supreme policy and decision-making organ of the AU. It is composed of all Heads of State and Government of the Member States. The Assembly determines the AU’s policies, sets its priorities, adopts its annual programme and oversees the implementation of its policies and decisions.

Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Theme / Title of the Summit: “Educating for the 21st Century: Building Resilient Education Systems to Increase Access to Quality and Relevant Inclusive Learning in Africa” (Linked to SDG 4).

Participating Members: 49 African countries were represented, with 30 of them attended by heads of state and government and the rest made up of vice-presidents and other high-level officials.

Invited members:

Leaders of 6 non-African nations and heads of 13 international organisations: Among them were Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abulgeit, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the Arab League and representatives of other organisations. Israel, which wanted to present its views on the Gaza war,1 was not allowed to participate.

  1. The African Union (AU) did not allow Israel to participate in a summit of AU member states in Ethiopia, according to a senior African official. “The Israeli delegation tried to present its views on the Gaza war, but the African Union (AU) did not allow the group to participate in its 37th summit in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia,” reported Qatar’s Al-Jazeera on Wednesday. According to the senior official on condition of anonymity, the African Union also objected to the participation of the director general of Israel’s foreign ministry in the meeting. “The Israeli delegation tried to convince some African countries to support Israel’s membership of the AU as an observer member,” he said. However, Al-Mayadeen’s sources confirmed that the Zionist mission is secretly taking part in the event.

 

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