Organization of African Unity and African Union Engagement with Refugee Protection: 1963-2011
(2013) 58 African Journal of International and Comparative Law 50
45 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2016
Date Written: 2013
This paper consolidates knowledge of OAU and AU engagement with refugee protection from the time of the continental organisation's founding in 1963 up to the end of 2011. It begins with an overview of each organisation. The paper's third section is devoted to what was the first and remains perhaps the most significant achievement in the field of refugee protection: the drafting and adoption of the 1969 OAU Convention on the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa. Section four relates to OAU engagement with refugee protection subsequent to the adoption of the Convention in 1969, beginning with OAU refugee protection bodies. Each is addressed in turn, beginning with the Commission of Ten on Refugee Problems in Africa. This is followed by the Bureau for the Placement and Education of African Refugees and then the Coordinating Committee. Select special refugee protection initiatives, in the form of conferences and summits, are then addressed. A final sub-section relates to legal instruments in addition to the 1969 Convention of relevance to refugees and adopted under the auspices of the OAU, namely the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The fifth section of the paper relates to the AU, the OAU's successor organisation. It begins with a discussion of AU refugee protection bodies: the Permanent Representatives Committee’s Sub-Committee on Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons; the Coordinating Committee on Assistance and Protection to Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons; and the Department of Political Affairs’ Division of Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees and Displaced Persons. The second sub-section focuses on select special refugee protection initiatives, again in the form of conferences and summits. Finally, an additional legal instrument of relevance to refugees and adopted under the auspices of the AU – the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa – is discussed. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, having been formed under the OAU and persisted under the AU, is the subject of the paper’s last substantive section. This is followed by a final concluding section.
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation