Much talk, few results? African Union summit ends

Hailemariam Dessalegn, prime minister of Ethiopia, is the new African Union chairperson. Photo by: Eric Miller / World Economic Forum / CC BY-SA

A weeklong African Union summit ended Monday without a peace deal for the conflict-ridden Congo, but with a call for pan-Africanism and new pledges by foreign donors to support the continent’s development.

Negotiations between U.N. and African officials in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, failed to produce an agreement by the end of the summit on Jan. 28 because of a disagreement over who - the United Nations or African Union - would lead a special intervention brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern provinces, which for years have been besieged by sympathizers of the so-called March 23 Movement. Violence boiled over in December when M23 members temporarily seized areas in North Kivu province, prompting several aid groups to withdraw international staff.

The summit’s theme was “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance,” but much of the attention was on the conflicts in the DRC, Sudan and Mali, which was also the focus of a donor conference on Jan. 29 in the Ethiopian capital. Other major themes included pan-African trade and climate change responses. Several agreements were signed on the fringes of the meeting, including:

A variety of positions were filled, including that of the African Union’s chairperson, with Hailemariam Desalegn, prime minister of Ethiopia.

The assembly requested that African Union ministers of health examine the progress made on improving maternal, newborn and child health, map out concrete and innovative strategies at a larger scale in order to adequately address the health needs of African women and children, and submit feedback. It endorsed the offer by Nigeria to host a followup to the Abuja 2001 African Union summit on HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and other related infectious diseases sometime in July or August this year.

African leaders also approved “in principle” a proposal by the Republic of Guinea to create a South-South and triangular Coalition that would help craft a post-2015 development framework for Africa. This coalition, once established, could inform an ongoing process led by the United Nations to craft targets to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, which expire in less than three years.

Read more decisions made at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa. The next African Union summit will take place May 19-27.

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    Rolf Rosenkranz

    Rolf Rosenkranz oversees a talented team of in-house journalists, correspondents and guest contributors located around the globe. Since joining Devex in early 2008, Rolf has been instrumental in growing its fledgling news operation into the leading online source for global development news and analysis. Previously, Rolf was managing editor at Inside Health Policy, a subscription-based news service in Washington. He has reported from Africa for the Johannesburg-based Star and its publisher, Independent News & Media, as well as the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily.